RIM Awarded Patent for the Placement of Fuel Cells in BlackBerry Smartphones

15 Mar 2012

Research In Motion, the Canadian developer and manufacturer of the popular line of BlackBerry smartphones, has been granted a patent by the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office) for the placement and integration of fuel cells in its devices.

RIM Patent

The patent Location of a fuel cell on a mobile device (US 8133621), filed on 27th February 2009, describes how a PEMFC placed behind the keyboard, and in front of the printed circuit board (PCB), of a device allows for more natural venting than placing the fuel cell anywhere else in the phone, with the keyboard acting as a ‘porous grill’; the patent also states that in average use the front of a mobile device is likely to be left facing upwards and outwards – a fuel cell behind the back cover, for example, would suffer restricted ventilation – ‘heat will rise through the keypad when the device is left in a cradle or laid on its back’. Furthermore the patent claims that ‘by placing the fuel cell under the keypad, minimal additional space is required to accommodate the fuel cell’.

The patent explains in detail how the fuel cell will work alongside the conventional phone mechanisms such as keyboard dome actuators and microphone assemblies. The patent also describes how the printed circuit board could be integrated with the fuel cell – an idea that is now in real world development at UCL and ICL in London.

Whether the fuel cell device described in the patent will materialise is debatable but yet another major player in the portable electronics sector signalling intent is positive news for portable fuel cells.

Reference: USPTO


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