In addition to some of the other new battery technologies we've recently featured, there are some portable power generation methods. First, nano-engines could generate electricity efficiently from small amounts of fuel. And second, small fuel cells can producing power from hydrogen gas. Both of these use some kind of fuel (hydrogen, alcohol, or hydrocarbon in liquid or gas form) to run the system and generate electric power.
The miniature engine is the project of a group of researchers at MIT. They recently announced that they have fabricated all the components necessary to produce micro scale gas-turbine engine that could provide 10 times longer life than a comparable weight of batteries (storage per kilogram.)
Creating these micro-turbines uses the same etching technology used to create computer chips. While the individual components have
been developed, the next step is to get all of the components working together
to demonstrate the abilities and effectiveness of the device.
Simultaneously, development is continuing on micro fuel cells as another promising avenue of development. Like larger scale fuel cells being developed for automotive use, these systems produce electricity directly when fuel is supplied to a catalyst. There are already some fuel-cell projects in the works, including cell phone chargers, and portable lights.
The move from power storage to power generation could be a powerful shift for portable electronics as well as for the automotive industry. Creating fuel-powered electric cars might seem like a step backward, but not when the fuel is hydrogen, and the power per kilogram is so very high.
written by Matt, September 21, 2006
written by Hank, September 22, 2006
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