The idea of the project was the development and realization of a small, simple and efficient fuel cell system that supplies the famous Raspberry Pi ® credit card-size computer with electrical power. The fuel cell needs pure hydrogen as fuel and produces only water. It makes the Pi portable by replacing a wall adapter or a battery and offers an operating time only limited by the size of the hydrogen tank.
The project started in 2014 as an idea of Timo Kurz. Development of a first prototype was done at Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, Freiburg, Germany in the Department of Fuel Cell Systems in the context of a students' thesis.
For the first version of the raspberryHy system, a planar, self-breathing PEM fuel cell was used together with electronics developed at Fraunhofer ISE, a buffer battery and miniature fluidic parts. The system can be driven with any hydrogen source up to 10 barg.
raspberryHy housing with RaspberryPi ® and fuel cell system inside and all connections. Red: Raspberry Pi, blue: electronics, yellow: fluidics. Dimensions: 145 x 121 x 52 mm. Both pictures: Fraunhofer ISE.
Why should I drive a Raspberry Pi with hydrogen?
- You combine an innovative computer with a highly innovative fuel
- You get an insight how fuel cell technology works in a fascinating real life application
- You make your Raspberry Pi portable
- You become independent of the long charging times of batteries
- By changing the size of the hydrogen bottle, you can easily increase your runtime. Runtimes of days, weeks or more without grid become realistic.
Are there still problems?
Yes, fuel cell technology is still in the focus of R&D to improve lifetime, power density and decrease costs. Specific designed small and efficient components for micro fuel cell systems are still rare.
Furthermore, hydrogen infrastructure is just beginning to grow. At the moment, there are still a few distributers of small hydrogen tanks and / or refilling stations on the market (see here).