Downsizing Power Supplies

By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2001-11-12 Print this article Print

About the size of a shirt button, the micro turbine motor was constructed down the river from eWeek Labs at MIT.

About the size of a shirt button, the micro turbine motor was constructed down the river from eWeek Labs at MIT. With a few hours worth of hydrogen fuel, this device could become the heart of a 50-watt power pack with the capacity of a comparable military lithium sulfur-dioxide battery that weighs more than five times as much.

Professor Martin Schmidt, director of MITs Microsystems Technology Laboratory, observed at a presentation last month that those high-density batteries arent even rechargeable, whereas future micro turbine packs will easily be refueled. Other micro-scale rotating devices might have applications in all-optical scanners or switches, replacing many of todays bulky and costly electro- mechanical systems.

You wont find pocket turbine power packs on your next handheld computer, but this technology could soon shrink the size and price of backup power systems or remotely located network nodes that rely today on bulky, inefficient and often toxic batteries.

Peter Coffee is Director of Platform Research at, where he serves as a liaison with the developer community to define the opportunity and clarify developers' technical requirements on the company's evolving Apex Platform. Peter previously spent 18 years with eWEEK (formerly PC Week), the national news magazine of enterprise technology practice, where he reviewed software development tools and methods and wrote regular columns on emerging technologies and professional community issues.Before he began writing full-time in 1989, Peter spent eleven years in technical and management positions at Exxon and The Aerospace Corporation, including management of the latter company's first desktop computing planning team and applied research in applications of artificial intelligence techniques. He holds an engineering degree from MIT and an MBA from Pepperdine University, he has held teaching appointments in computer science, business analytics and information systems management at Pepperdine, UCLA, and Chapman College.

Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel