Intelligent Energy Planning Phone Batteries with a Week-Long Life

A U.K.-based energy technology company plans to develop a fuel cell power source that could keep a smartphone running for a week or even longer on a single charge. Intelligent Energy revealed earlier this week that it had signed a £5.25 million ($7.6 million) joint development agreement for such a technology with an unnamed "emerging" smartphone original equipment manufacturer (OEM).

A fuel cell-based battery, which stores energy in the form of hydrogen, could help to eliminate some of the limitations that currently plague the main type of battery for cellphones: the lithium-ion battery, according to Intelligent Energy. In addition to lasting at most a day or two before needing a recharge, today's smartphone batteries are also prone to overheating.

Intelligent Energy has already developed and taken to market a hydrogen fuel cell power pack for recharging smartphones off the grid. The Upp cartridge (pictured above), currently available in the U.K., is a fuel cell that provides a user around five smartphone charges and can then be exchanged for a refilled cartridge that the user must purchase.

No. 1 on Wish Lists: Better Batteries

This isn't the first time a company has looked at using hydrogen fuel cells to power personal electronics. Last year, for example, Apple filed a patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for its design for a "portable and cost-effective fuel cell system for a portable computing device."

Longer-lasting and more easily accessible power for electronics is definitely at or near the top of most device-owners' wish lists. A survey done by Fortune at the 2015 CES in Las Vegas, for instance, found that the feature smartphone owners wanted most was "improved battery life." In fact, 33 percent of those surveyed chose better batteries, compared to 16 percent who named the second-most desired improvement: faster processors.

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