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.