Researchers at the Arizona State University in Tempe claim to have found a longer-lasting alternative to batteries in portable electronics in the form of hydrogen fuel cells.

For many years engineers have tried to provide an alternative to the conventional atteries for various consumer electronics like laptop computers, digital cameras or ortable music players.

The present day batteries not only provide a very a limited amount of power, but also take hours to recharge, and over time become less long-lasting.

Now the chemists have developed a tiny hydrogen-gas generator that they say can be developed into a compact fuel cell package which can power various electronic devices. Theses batteries boast of providing up to three to five times more energy than that conventional batteries of the same size and weight.

The generator uses a special solution containing borohydride, an alkaline compound that has an unusually high capacity for storing hydrogen, a key element that is used by fuel cells to generate electricity.

The fuel cell system can be packaged in containers of the same size and weight as conventional batteries and is recharged by refilling a fuel cartridge, they say. Research on these battery replacement fuel cells, which they claim are safer for the environment than regular batteries,

"We’re trying to maximize the usable hydrogen storage capacity of borohydride in order to make this fuel cell power source last longer," says study leader Don Gervasio, Ph.D., a chemist at the University’s Biodesign Institute, Center for Applied NanoBioScience. "That could lead to the longest lasting power source ever produced for portable electronics."

Borohydride has shown promise as a safe, energy-dense hydrogen storage solution. Unlike the other fuel sources, borohydride works at room temperature and does not require high temperatures in order to liberate hydrogen.