Apple looks into a portable battery pack for the iPhone, iPad, Mac laptops

Apple has filed for a patent (number 20180183123) for a portable battery pack for the iPhone, iPad, and Mac notebooks. It’s dubbed “fuel cell system to power a portable device.”

In the patent filing, Apple notes that electronics manufacturers such as itself have become very interested in developing renewable energy sources for their products, and they have been exploring a number of promising renewable energy sources such as hydrogen fuel cells. Hydrogen fuel cells have a number of advantages. 

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Such fuel cells and associated fuels can potentially achieve high volumetric and gravimetric energy densities, which can potentially enable continued operation of portable electronic devices for days or even weeks without refueling. However, it’s extremely challenging to design hydrogen fuel cell systems which are sufficiently portable and cost-effective to be used with portable electronic devices. Apple is working on a solution.

Here’s Apple’s summary of the patent: “This fuel cell system includes a fuel cell stack which converts fuel into electrical power. It also includes a fuel source for the fuel cell stack and a controller which controls operation of the fuel cell system. The fuel system also includes an interface to the portable computing device, wherein the interface comprises a power link that provides power to the portable computing device, and a bidirectional communication link that provides bidirectional communication between the portable computing device and the controller for the fuel cell system.”

Of course, Apple files for — and is granted — lots of patents by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. Many are for inventions that never see the light of day. However, you never can tell which ones will materialize in a real product.