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Machine Design

Miniature engines to replace batteries

Engineers at Birmingham University, England, have developed tiny engines that may replace standard batteries in mobile phones and laptop computers. The micro engines are said to have over 300 times more energy than ordinary batteries, and are lighter and smaller.

Engineers at Birmingham University say tiny engines only a few millimeters wide may replace standard batteries in as few as six years.

Also, they can run for two years on a single squirt of lighter fluid.

One issue engineers faced was how to deal with the heat produced from the tiny engines. The engines became so hot they burned themselves out and couldn't be reused. Heat-resistant materials such as ceramic or silicon carbide solved this problem. Other applications for the mini engines include driving microair vehicles for military operations and microrobots for reconnaissance, communication relays, and microcameras.

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