Here's an interesting technology press release which may well effect digital cameras: Scientists at Motorola Labs and Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a new, miniature fuel cell that may one day replace the traditional batteries that now power everything from cellular phones and laptop computers to portable cameras and electronic games.
The energy density of these new fuel cells is 10 times that of conventional rechargeable batteries. At the same time, they will be significantly lighter in weight and less expensive to purchase.
The new fuel cells, each measuring about one inch square and less than one-tenth of an inch in thickness, are powered by liquid methanol (wood alcohol) and can easily be installed into numerous existing and future electronic devices. Use of the fuel cells, for example, could safely power a cellular phone for more than a month and eliminate the need for battery chargers and a/c adapters.
"Manufacturers are constantly developing new features for portable electronic equipment that require more power and longer operating life," said Bill Ooms, director of Motorola's Material, Device, and Energy Research. "These fuel cells have an amazing ability to produce energy for longer periods of time while weighing far less than conventional batteries."
The new fuel cell uses a reservoir of inexpensive methanol that, when combined with the oxygen in the air, produces electricity. Since fuel cells have low voltage outputs, typical designs normally would require stacking several cells together to increase voltage. However, Motorola Labs has designed unique circuitry that efficiently converts the low voltage of a fuel cell to the higher voltage required to replace conventional batteries and directly drive portable electronics.
This "air breathing" fuel cell was developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The highly simplified and miniaturized design eliminates the need for air pumps, heat exchangers and other complex devices that previous fuel cells required and therefore disqualified them from successful use in today's small portable electronic products.
It's envisioned that the methanol required to run electronic devices could be packaged in small, inexpensive cartridges and purchased at the same locations consumers now purchase traditional batteries. The technology has the same consumer-friendliness as batteries: the quiet and clean conversion of a material's chemical energy into electricity.
Motorola Labs, together with members from Motorola's Energy Systems Group have assigned a research team to Los Alamos to form a center of excellence that plans to drive this new technology into the marketplace.
The advanced direct methanol fuel cell technology base at Los Alamos National Laboratory was created with support from the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and the Defense Science Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The University of California operates Los Alamos National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy.
Motorola, Inc. (NYSE: MOT) is a global leader in providing integrated communications solutions and embedded electronic solutions. Sales in 1999 were $30.9 billion.
How It Works
A fuel cell converts chemical energy directly to electrical energy. The basic concept of a fuel cell originated in 1839, but practical applications came from NASA in the early days of space flight.
Many kinds of fuel could be used in a fuel cell. The most active fuel for fuel cells is hydrogen. Recently, methanol has been considered as an alternate fuel because it has a higher energy density than hydrogen (that is, more energy for a given size and weight compared to hydrogen).
A direct methanol fuel cell converts the energy in methanol directly to electricity and operates at normal room temperatures. A catalyst (typically a mixture of platinum and ruthenium) is used to react a dilute mixture of methanol and water to form carbon dioxide, protons, and electrons, which provide the electrical current. The protons are conducted through a proton-conducting organic membrane to another platinum catalyst where the protons combine with oxygen from the ambient air to form pure water. Some of the water is recycled back to mix with the methanol, and the excess water evaporates as water vapor in the air.
The key technical challenges of fuel cells are to make them at a cost lower than rechargeable batteries. Also, the entire fuel cell system needs to be miniaturized to fit into today's small portable electronic equipment. Of course, one wants very high efficiency in the conversion of methanol to electricity and a very long operating life for the system.
For more detailed information on the general topic of fuel cells, a booklet is available from Los Alamos National Lab entitled "Fuel Cells - Green Power". It is available on the Web at http://www.education.lanl.gov/resources/fuelcells/ .
Photographers who fly frequently in the US may want to finally invest in that TSA Pre-check status: in standard security lines, cameras and all other electronics larger than a smartphone will need to be placed in a separate bin for screening.
Images have appeared which claim to show Nikon's forthcoming D850 DSLR, the development of which was announced this week. If genuine, the pictures indicate that the D850 will offer illuminated controls and a tilting LCD screen, but no built-in flash.
To celebrate the Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64 lens' successful Kickstarter campaign, Lomography has announced a chrome-plated version of the lens in Nikon and Canon DSLR mounts.
Nikon just released four new firmware updates, adding features and fixing bugs in the D600, D610, D750 and the KeyMission 80.
It probably hasn't made your landscape photography bucket list just yet, but there's a good reason to visit Idaho. Here are 9 must-visit locations in this beautiful state.
Oops... Adobe accidentally leaked their unfinished Lightroom-powered cloud-based photo editor 'Project Nimbus' to some Creative Cloud users yesterday.
Storm chaser and award-winning photographer Mike Oblinski just released his latest time-lapse, and it is absolutely stunning.
Looking to level up your video capture capabilities without buying a whole new camera? Blackmagic's Video Assist 4K is well worth considering, despite a few flaws and its lack of 4K/60p support.
We're big fans of Fujifilm's fast-growing GFX system, and the GF 110mm F2 lens is no exception. Positioned as the system's classic portrait lens, its optics are just as impressive with non-human subjects as well.
Nikon turns 100 years old today, and the company is celebrating with a wacky music video, some tributes to its history, and a new vision presented by president Kazuo Ushida.
Phottix just released the Premio Parabolic Umbrellas series, replacing their Para-Pro line with a stronger, deeper and better made set of parabolic umbrellas.
The Moto Z2 is Motorola's first dual-camera smartphone and, compared to its predecessor, comes with a number of improvements and new camera features.
Researchers at Stanford have revealed a new '4D camera system' built for robots. The system is based on the same light field tech that allowed Lytro cameras to refocus images after they were taken.
If you want 'beautiful rendition' from your lenses, follow this simple rule: only buy classic low-element prime lenses with lead glass elements—everything else is junk.
In an interview with CNBC, Leica Chairman Andreas Kaufmann said he dreams of a 'true Leica phone,' and hinted at what's next for the Leica and Huawei partnership.
Wildlife and nature photographer Peter Mather tells the story behind this exceptional shot of a mama grizzly and her cub searching for salmon in Yukon, Canada.
Popular YouTube channel TastyTuts has put together this 33-video Beginner's Guide to Adobe Photoshop—a godsend for anybody who wants to learn Photoshop from scratch.
The long anticipated replacement for the popular Rode VideoMic Pro is almost ready for shipping. The price of the upgraded VideoMic Pro+ will be £290/$300 when it goes on sale in mid-August.
A new iOS app called Explorest wants to help you find new locations to shoot. It's limited to Singapore for now, but the app is packed full of useful location scouting features.
Nikon's D850 development announcement is extremely light on details, so we assembled a wish list of upgrades and features we'd love to see.
Nikon has announced the development of the long-awaited replacement to its full-frame D810: the D850. Nikon says that the D850 will build on the strengths of its predecessor and offer 'new technologies, features and performance enhancements.'
Lens manufacturer Voigtlander has introduced a 65mm F2 macro lens for Sony E-mount that it says "rates as one of the finest in the history of Voigtländer."
The UK released a preview of their upcoming drone safety regulations, and it looks like drone pilots will have to both register their device and pass safety awareness tests.
National Geographic photographer Bob Holmes talks about light, and why you need to learn how to 'see' and not just 'look' at your subject.
Photographer Alessandro Barteletti shares the story behind his National Geographic Italia cover, shot with a 10-year-old DSLR and an iPhone flashlight.
Fashion catalog photographers in China have some next-level models to work with. In this video, you see one model hitting 30 poses in 15 seconds as the photographer snaps away.
Photographer Paul Adshead breaks down 11 photography-related smartphone apps he couldn't live without—from a pocket light meter to a lighting diagram app.
Fast-growing Chinese flash brand Godox is teasing a brand new flash trigger... for smartphones. The Godox A1 is a 'phone flash system' that can act as both flash and 2.4GHz trigger.
On July 12, Canon opened its newest Technology and Support Center, designed to serve the motion picture industry, in Burbank, CA. DPReview got a sneak peak and takes you behind the scenes.
The Sigma 14mm F1.8 Art is truly one-of-a-kind. It offers the fastest aperture of any lens that shares its focal length, produces beautiful sunstars and is incredibly sharp to boot. If you're in the market for a fast ultrawide prime, this looks to be the one to get.