British tech firm Intelligent Energy has demonstrated a revolutionary new iPhone battery made from a hydrogen fuel cell, so we thought it was about time to dispel some myths about hydrogen power.
Is it safe?
Hydrogen, undeservedly, has gained a reputation as being unsafe. Because of this, people have been wary of hydrogen power since the first commercially available hydrogen fuel cell cars were introduced a few years ago. If you type in ‘are hydrogen cars…’ into Google Search, the first autocomplete option is ‘… safe’.
In fact, although hydrogen requires a lower temperature to ignite, its density makes it less liable to explode in the open air as it rises quickly, unlike heavier carbon gases.
What are the advantages?
When burned with oxygen (your standard exothermic reaction) hydrogen only produces water as a waste product, making it one of the most ecological fuels out there. Petrol and diesel produce carbon dioxide, which is one of the most harmful greenhouse gases.
Hydrogen can produce a huge amount of power. The most famous hydrogen-powered vehicles are NASA’s spacecraft, which are propelled out of the earth’s atmosphere by powerful rockets.
So why aren’t we all driving hydrogen cars?
The main issue with hydrogen is producing it. Although it is the most abundant element in the universe, very little exists in its pure form on Earth. This means we have to extract it from oxygen using electricity or even carbon fuels – a laborious and costly process.
Secondly, hydrogen has a very low density, which makes it tough to store enough in a vehicle in order to give it a significant range on a tank of fuel. However, recent advances in hydrogen fuel cell technology have led to new government funding to help public organisations add hydrogen cars to their fleets.
Why would I buy a phone with a hydrogen battery?
It’s a familiar sensation: you’re running late for a party because of transport trouble, so you take out your phone to call ahead – only to find your battery on 1%!
Intelligent Energy’s new fuel cell Upp solves that issue. One fully charged hydrogen battery can run a phone for a week and integrates seamlessly into the phone case. The fuel cell can then be recharged at any point via the headphone jack.
There are limitations, however: hydrogen power is not readily available, so consumers wouldn’t be able to plug into the wall socket like they do usually. Plus, there is still a significant amount of scenario testing to be done to make sure that battery is safe to use.
The main question is, even though 44% of people run out of battery at least once a day, will consumers want to change their power source when they can just plug into the closest socket instead? We’ll have to wait and see…
If you’re constantly on the go, here are 4 things to consider when buying a power bank.