Researchers advance methane-powered cells for laptops

A methane-powered laptop battery could be a reality soon, due to advances in fuel cell technology made by Harvard University researchers.On Tuesday, researchers announced they had made a miniature methane-powered solid-oxide fuel cell (SOFC) with an operating temperature of less than 500°C.

A methane-powered laptop battery could be a reality soon, due to advances in fuel cell technology made by Harvard University researchers.

On Tuesday, researchers announced they had made a miniature methane-powered solid-oxide fuel cell (SOFC) with an operating temperature of less than 500°C.

"Low temperature is a holy grail in this field," lead researcher on the project Shriram Ramanathan said in a statement. "If you can realise high-performance solid-oxide fuel cells that operate in the 300°C range, you can use them in transportation vehicles and portable electronics," he said.

Typically, SOFCs operate at around 800°C, according to the researchers.

Methane requires less processing than hydrogen, another fuel for SOFCs.

On 17 November, fuel cell company Lilliputian Systems announced that it had entered into an investment and manufacturing deal with chipmaker Intel to help it bring to market a butane-cartridge powered USB charger fuel cell.

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