Apple granted first Liquidmetal patent

Sat, Jan 22, 2011


2 weeks ago, Cult of Mac reported:

Apple has been granted its first patent related to Liquidmetal, a space-age metal alloy. But the patent isn’t for a new iPad enclosure or iPhone antenna, as experts have predicted. Instead Apple’s Liquidmetal patent is for an internal component of a fuel cell.

Apple’s new patent describes “amorphous alloy” collector plates for fuel cells, an electrochemical battery that uses hydrogen to generate electricity. Although the patent doesn’t reference the Liquidmetal trademark, the material is an amorphous alloy or “metallic glass.”

If you recall, back in August Apple signed an exclusive licensing deal with Liquidmetal to use their metal alloys in their product line. Classified as a “glassy metal”, Liquidmetal is already used in golf clubs, tennis rackets, and perhaps, to an Apple product near you.

So why fuel cells? Cult of Mac theorizes,

Fuel cells are a hot technology in Silicon Valley right now. The technology promises to be cheap, efficient and environmentally friendly.

Miniature fuel cells could power mobile phones for more than 30 days without recharging and notebooks for 20 hours or more…

The problem is manufacturing fuel cells that are a safe, hard-working and reliable over many years. Lots of companies are working on developing the right materials. Because Liquidmetal can be made to be super hard, corrosion proof, and durable, it may prove to be the ideal material for fuel cells.

The collector plate described in Apple’s patent acts as a catalyst for a chemical reaction that separates electrons from hydrogen to produce electricity. Its only byproducts are water and heat. As long as the cell is topped-up with fuel, it will continue to generate power. The process is clean, quiet and highly efficient — up to three times more efficient than burning fuel.



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