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Keen on green

Could solar and fuel cell technology power the feature rich handsets of the future? By Mike Richardson.

When it comes to renewable power – whether it is solar power, wind turbines, or even ‘motion of the ocean’ hydroelectric machines – the question is how to harness it and turn it into electrical energy for the power hungry electronic equipment we can’t live without.
Recent product innovations have led portable equipment designers to consider integrating solar and fuel cell technology into their devices to minimising recharges and extend battery life.
“The emphasis on ‘green’ power is gaining momentum,” Linear Technology’s product marketing manager, Power Products Group, Tony Armstrong explained. “Green power is all about how we use the available energy – regardless of what that energy source is – by maximising the usefulness of that energy and minimising how much we actually need to take for correct operation of the end product.”
According to Texas Instruments’ director of portable power management, Uwe Mengelkamp, mobile phone manufacturers are exploring design techniques for miniature solar panels working in parallel with battery cells to extend the time between recharges.
“We’ve put forward the concept that portable devices can take energy from light and translate it into charge for batteries,” he said. “If you compare this to the vast numbers of Li-Ion batteries being sold, then there is a huge market potential."

Mike Richardson

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