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Apple patents fuel-cell laptop charger

Apple has filed patents on fuel-cell technologies for powering portable computing devices, suggesting that the company is looking into the possibility of producing MacBook laptops with runtimes measured in weeks, rather than hours.

Spotted by AppleInsider, the patents - "Fuel Cell System to Power a Portable Computing Device" and "Fuel Cell System Coupled to a Portable Computing Device" - were filed back in 2010 by the company and point to growing interest in the use of hydrogen as a clean, renewable fuel source for future gadgets.

According to the details in Apple's patent filings, a portable computer powered by a hydrogen fuel-cell system could run for "days or even weeks" on a single fill - a significant improvement on the ten or so hours a standard MacBook battery will afford its user.

The key part of Apple's patent hinges on the use of the battery already located in the portable device to kick-start the reaction in the fuel cell, a novel technique which removes the need to place a bulky and expensive battery in the fuel cell unit itself, reducing cost and weight.

Sadly, there's no news from Apple yet as to whether it plans to bring the technology to market; the company has a history of filing defensive patents on technologies that it may one day wish to implement, and the existence of the patent filings is in no way a guarantee that we'll be seeing a MacBook Hydrogen any time soon.

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