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Samsung Electro-Mechanics has developed a micro-fuel cell and hydrogen generator that runs on water.
Since micro-fuel cells can generate up to three watts of electricity, they could be used in mobile devices. The new fuel cell could power a handset for ten hours, twice as long as rechargeable batteries.
When the handset is turned on, metal and water in the phone react to produce hydrogen gas. 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.
The basic idea is a catalyst splits the water into hydrogen and oxygen without the need for additional energy, and the pure hydrogen is used in a thin film fuel cell producing two watts, enough to charge a cell-phone in 120 minutes. It is probable that this isn’t a true catalyst and must be occasionally replaced.
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.
Later handsets will be developed that don’t need the hydrogen cartridges to be changed, and would only need to be filled with water. So time will come when you’ll need to put some water in your cellphone and you’re good to go.