IP Profile: A novel Energy Source for Portable Electronic Devices - Micro Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (micro SOFC)
Portable electronic devices continuously need more power. The miniaturized Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (micro SOFC) is a hybrid power source, directly fueled by butane, with an increased energy capacity and density compared to current Li-ion batteries.
Organization: ETH Zurich
Primary Market: Electronics
Technology Contact: M. Kraak, ETH Zurich
IP Summary Courtesy of M. Kraak, ETH Zurich
The “ONEBAT micro SOFC system” is developed in the Non-metallic Inorganic Materials Group of Prof. L.J. Gauckler, ETH Zurich (Switzerland) in collaboration with other Swiss academic institutions. Anja Bieberle-Huetter, PhD, the Project Manager explains to NWN: “We have tackled many challenges already and we’re now looking for industrial partners with extensive know-how in MEMS fabrication and packaging to construct prototypes for field testing.”
The main problems with state of the art batteries are low energy density, long charging time, dependency of electricity net, and degradation. Therefore, micro-SOFCs are ideal for the market for different kinds of portable electronic devices. With high energy density and simple butane cartridge replacement, they are an attractive alternative energy source and lead to complete independence of the electricity net. Micro SOFCs also have a 2-4 times higher energy densities compared to other miniaturized fuel cell technologies e.g. Polymer Electrolyte Membrane Fuel Cell (PEMFC) and Direct Methanol Fuel Cells (DMFC).
It shall be noted that butane as a fuel for electronic devices is allowed in aircraft cabins according to ICAO guidelines of 2007, thus enabling many different types of applications. The necessary fuel cell replacement cartridges will be cheap and a 3$ butane cartridge will last for about 10 hrs operation time in a standard laptop. The project team has overcome the technical problems with respect to membrane production and use of membrane materials, gas conversion and operation and thermal management of the device and they are looking forward entering an industrial partnership to integrate these subsystems in the first prototypes.
Fields of application:
- Portable electronics for e.g.: Handhelds, PDAs, Notebooks
- Small portable industrial devices
- Micro SOFCs have a high potential for travelling and military applications