UK tech firm integrates hydrogen fuel cell inside iPhone for week-long charge

© Mike Segar
A UK tech company has developed a hydrogen fuel cell so compact they have managed to fit it inside just a slightly modified regular iPhone 6. The technological breakthrough can allow a smartphone to run for a week on a single “charge.”

“To our knowledge this has never been done before,” Henri Winand, chief executive of Loughborough-based Intelligent Energy, told the Telegraph.

“We have now managed to make a fuel cell so thin we can fit it to the existing chassis without alterations and retaining the rechargeable battery. This is a major step because if you are moving to a new technology you have to give people a path they are comfortable with.”

The company’s prototype iPhone 6 contains both a regular lithium-ion battery and a hydrogen cell module that produces electrical current by mixing hydrogen and oxygen. The only byproduct is a tiny amount of water and heat, so the regular model had to be modified to add vents that will let them escape.

Intelligent Energy already offers a $200 hydrogen battery device, called Upp. However like any other similarly bulky gadgets on the market, the whole system is external and just charges the device’s internal battery.

The new prototype iPhone can be “charged” with hydrogen-releasing powder via the a modified headphone jack. For commercial use the company hopes to integrate a separate slot for removable cartridges inside the device.

One such disposable cartridge the company hopes would allow the device to work several times longer than the current lithium-ion models – up to a week of usage on a single charge.

READ MORE: Cheap, fast & pure: Breakthrough method for hydrogen fuel may revolutionize car industry

The company has already hinted that it is waiting for its phone-manufacturing partner to turn the prototype into a commercial product – but refused to comment whether that mysterious partner is Apple Inc.

The company’s corporate finance chief said Mark Lawson-Statham it is all “about how quickly does our partner want to press the button and get on with it?”