Saturday, October 20, 2007

Now THAT'S Innovation: Water-Power

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In one of my recent posts I wrote about the LG Voyager and called for more innovation. I got it!

Get Ready for Water-Powered Cell Phones
In 2010 your mobile phone may be powered by water. Samsung Electro-Mechanics announced Thursday that it has developed a micro-fuel cell and hydrogen generator that runs on H20.

"When the handset is turned on, metal and water in the phone react to produce hydrogen gas," explained Oh Yong-soo, vice president of Samsung Electro-Mechanics' research center. "The gas is then supplied to the fuel cell where it reacts with oxygen in the air to generate power." Other fuel cells need methanol to produce hydrogen, while Samsung's needs only water.

Since the micro-fuel cell can generate up to three watts of electricity, it could be used in mobile devices, the company said. The new fuel cell could power a handset for 10 hours, twice as long as rechargeable batteries.

Oh said water-powered handsets are expected to hit the market by 2010. "If the user uses the phone for four hours a day on average, they would have to change the hydrogen cartridge about every five days," Oh said. "Later handsets will be developed that don't need the hydrogen cartridges to be changed, and would only need to be filled with water."

Samsung Electro-Mechanics unveiled the new technology at the 2007 Korea Electronics Show at the Korea International Exhibition Center in Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province.

Now one issue is do you really want to walk around with a tiny version of the Hindenberg in your purse or pants?: Inventors Create Water-Powered Cell Phones

In all fairness, I did find this article about a water-powered cell phone that was written in 2006: Japanese Develop Water-Powered Cell Phones. So, who came first? Honestly, I don't think that it matters.

However, in finding info on the water-powered phones I found this 2005 article: Urine-Powered Batteries Developed for Cell Phones. BTW, you don't get around the gas issue. It seems all of these power souces might explode under the wrong circumstances, but conventional batteries explode too. This is a great point about urine-powered batteries:
If it works, it would be great for hikers and 3rd world countries where plugging in isn't very easy but, um, relieving oneself is.

I also found an article talking about urine-powered medical devices for diabetes. I'm diabetic. I'd be willing to switch and leave batteries behind.

Keep innovating - I really do need to divide this blog into categories because I love blogging gadget stories.

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  1. Dumping batteries make a lot of sense- even the recyclable ones are essentially disposable products (lifespan of about a year or so depending on use in the shortest cases), not to mention they're out and out toxic when they eventually (as they're likely to) reach the landfill.

    Finding energy in greener sources that are recognised in organic sciences would certainly be welcome.

  2. I agree and I actually think the urine batteries are an even better idea ;) Since that was announced two years ago, I'm wondering where they are in the R&D process.


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