If you can remember way back to last month (sometimes it's tough for me as well), we saw a zinc air fuel cell from a company called Evionyx that was purported to be environmentally safe, lightweight, and recyclable, along with providing energy up to five times longer battery life than the environmentally about mobile power sources currently in use. Well, it turns out that Evionyx isn't the only company working on zinc air technology. This week, a company called Electric Fuel Corp. announced that it has developed a zinc-air micro targeted specifically at consumer electronics applications. Electric Fuel says that the cells outperform other alternative power supplies like hydrogen, methanol, and ethanol fuel cells that are currently under development. The new zinc-air micro fuel cells are expected to be available for commercial applications as early as the second half of next year and are intended for use in notebook computers, hand-held tools and other power-devouring devices. In one configuration, the new fuel cells have a capacity of 30Ah, measure just 3" (7.6 cm) square, are about a quarter of an inch (0.7 cm) thick, and weigh 3 ounces (90 grams). In a notebook computer application, Electric Fuel says that a power-pack based on the new fuel cells could be expected to last over 16 hours.
Zinc-air fuel cells work by extracting oxygen from the atmosphere to react with zinc metal fuel and produce electricity. Are zinc metal power supplies the wave of the future? Who knows, but with a number of companies working on alternatives to Lithium Ion and acid-based batteries, we can at least expect to see some new options as they compete for their slice of the market.