The idea of powering gadgets with fuel cells instead of glass is getting new traction as researchers have found a way to increase their rigidity, and make them more efficient and less expensive.
André D. Taylor, an assistant professor of chemical and environmental engineering at Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science, said that using bulk metallic glasses (BMGs) instead of silicon, a brittle and poor conductor, as well as stainless steel, a material that is prone to corrosion, could be the foundation for a "long-lasting, low-cost, and eco-friendly power source for portable electronic devices". According to the scientist, BMGs can be strong as steel, "yet malleable and good at conducting electricity, and thus superior to silicon and steel for micro fuel cells."
The working fuel cell prototype developed at Yale has been made using zirconium and platinum compounds and has a volume of just 3 cm3, but there was no information how much power it provides. Details have been published in the article Bulk Metallic Glass Micro Fuel Cell in the November 26 issue of the journal Small. The researchers said they are now working to increase the capacity of their fuel cell.