Today’s laptops or notebooks have a significant obstacle to overcome: short battery life.
Despite the sleek style and rising levels of performance, laptops have never been genuinely mobile.
With batteries averaging around 3 to 5 hours of usable power, most laptops are limited in the time they can spend away from the warm electrical embrace of a wall plug-in.
As most laptop owners attest, you run out of power when you send out all the critical business emails or watch your favourite movie always recorded on the irritation meter. In today’s language – it is awful!
Of course, things are improving, as new technologies come into operation (dual-core processors, hyper-threading) users are getting more battery life from their laptops. But even as laptops become smaller and more efficient, short battery life is still a limiting factor for most laptops. This problem was the hardest hit on gaming laptops that consume a lot of energy.
Try playing a game or watching a battery movie on your favourite beach for an extended period and you will see why laptop batteries are in urgent need of an overhaul. Laptop manufacturers are undoubtedly aware of this problem, and help may be on the way. The solution for the laptop with power problems is already here.
Again, a new technology comes to the rescue. The short battery life for laptops and all portable electronic devices are likely to be resolved by two new sources of energy: fuel microcells and printable solar cells.
Fuel microcells can use fuels like alcohol or methanol and offer ten times the power of conventional batteries using only 1/20 of the weight. They are ideal for laptops or notebooks.
It burns fuel that can be quickly refilled just by refilling your tank or replacing a new fuel cartridge. As everyone knows, recharging a conventional cell battery takes hours; this new battery takes only a few seconds to recharge or refill.
One of the significant leaders in this new technology is MTI with Micro’s Mobion cordless power pack, which is likely to replace lithium-ion batteries. They use direct methanol (DMFC) fuel cells.
Expect these creatures to be in almost 22% of all portable devices by 2011. What if the buying public embraces these new micro-fuel cells; you can kiss your lithium-ion battery farewell long before that date!
Even more promising are printable solar cells that fold or can be rolled up or built into a laptop, providing them with a source of renewable energy and energy. One of the leaders in this new technology is Konarka.
They produce a lightweight, flexible photovoltaic plastic material that supplies solar energy to any device. Since sunlight is not always available, Konarka technology uses all types of light, including indoor light, to produce electricity.
These low-cost printable solar cells can have many applications, including a power source for laptops. Cheap, renewable and abundant.
What we are likely to see in the future is a hybrid of the two technologies, fuel microcells and photovoltaic solar cells, working on a tangent to provide laptops with a never-depleting power source – unlimited power available anywhere, anytime.
Micro fuel cells and printable solar cells will give laptops the freedom and energy they need to be used anytime, anywhere.
These new sources of energy will finally make the laptop genuinely portable. It will also make the Internet genuinely wireless, mobile and available anywhere. Perish the thought!