Battery life on modern gadgets sucks — so why not power your mobile devices with something a little more potent like, err, jet fuel? That’s the idea of researchers from the University of Utah, who think that fuel cells could efficiently be made to run using the same fuel as fighter jets.
The problem with most fuel cells, you see, is that they run on hydrogen — which can be hard to get hold of and is actually quite dangerous. So a team of researchers has developed an alternative that uses JP-8, a jet fuel used by warplanes that are flying in extreme climates, and one of the safest fuels used in military applications.
The new cells developed at the University of Utah may use enzymes to break down the fuel into electricity — creating no perceptible hear in the process. The cells works at room temperature, even when there are impurities in the fuel. That’s useful, because jet fuel often contains sulfur, which can interrupt the catalysts used in conventional fuel cells. Instead, the new fuel cells use a cascade of catalysts — alkane monooxygenase and alcohol oxidase — to make the process more robust.
Clearly this isn’t the kind of solution that’s going to help us avoid the use of fossil fuels, but it could provide electronics with long-lasting power supplies that can be used in harsh environments, miles away from electricity supplies. [University of Utah via EurekAlert via Engadget]
Image by UK Ministry of Defence under Creative Commons licence