Apple has been working out a way to keep its portable electronics alive for days, and weeks even, before having to refuel. And the magic is in the fuel system, according to patent filing that emerged on Sept 3.
Originally filed in March of this year, the patent filing describes a fuel cell system meant to power a "portable computing device." As noted by 9to5Mac, the patent application's reference to MagSafe connector indicates that the fuel system Apple describes is intended for MacBooks.
The system Apple has drawn up would entails a fuel cell stack and a controller. There fuel cell stack uses a power link to the "portable computing device" and a "bidirectional communication link.
Apple proposes that the communication link could report "how much power is available from the fuel cell system; a state-of-charge of an internal rechargeable battery within the fuel cell system; a temperature of the fuel cell stack," stated the application.
It could specify "a pressure at an inlet of the fuel cell stack; a pressure at an outlet of the fuel cell stack; cell voltages for individual cells in the fuel cell stack; how much fuel remains in the fuel source; and certification information for the fuel cell system."
The fuel cell system Apple envisions would rely on removable cartridges. But because many people wouldn't want to rely solely on power cartridges, MacBooks that use fuel cell systems would also include rechargeable batteries and that prevents a couple of challenges for Apple.
On one hand, a fuel cell system would add more bulk to a laptop line that looks to get significantly thinner now that Intel has finally released its 14nm Skylake M-processors. On the othe hand, the people who would need days and weeks of battery life, need rather than want, they'd likely go for a work-ready laptop with a durable design.
So while the idea of an iPhone or a MacBook that goes weeks on a charge may be intriguing to the masses, the system, in its current embodiment, may be better suited in the fields and forests instead of in cafes and on flights.