Apple Inc., maker of the iPod and iPhone, is considering powering some portable devices with a hydrogen fuel cell, according an application published in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Dec. 22.

The company notes in its application “our country’s continuing reliance on fossil fuels.” Consumers are more interested in using and promoting renewable energy sources, and these days are evaluating the “environmental friendliness” of electronic products, Apple said.

Application 20110311895, filed in August 2010, covers a fuel cell system for a portable computing device, including a fuel source, a controller and an interface to the device.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, acknowledged in the application that “it is extremely challenging to design hydrogen fuel cell systems which are sufficiently portable and cost-effective to be used with portable electronic devices.”

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