A recent patent application filed by computer giant Apple reveals what might be the company's next big thing: hydrogen batteries.

Hydrogen batteries work by splitting water into its core chemical components, then using those chemicals to generate electricity, but for many years the reaction was too volatile for most commercial applications.

Scientists announced in 2008 that they had finally discovered a way to conduct the reaction in a much smaller container, free from the corrosive effects that marred previous attempts. They also learned how to create hydrogen batteries that can store vast amounts of electricity in very small containers.

Those discoveries played a key role in influencing Apple to look at hydrogen cells as the potential next generation power source for mobile electronics, and this latest patent filing is not their first.

Apple's latest patent seems to carry the technology even further, suggesting that some day soon, hydrogen batteries will be lighter and more energy efficient than today's portable electricity storage, potentially giving mobile electronics a charge for weeks at a time.

The application also makes an interesting note about the power of consumer opinion, suggesting that because the people want renewable energy, Apple will strive to give it to them.

"Our country's continuing reliance on fossil fuels has forced our government to maintain complicated political and military relationships with unstable governments in the Middle East, and has also exposed our coastlines and our citizens to the associated hazards of offshore drilling," Apple's application reads. "These problems have led to an increasing awareness and desire on the part of consumers to promote and use renewable energy sources."

According to Apple Insider, the company has been eyeing hydrogen for some time, even filing a patent last year for a simpler version of a hydrogen cell. The firm has also repeatedly considered using solar cells for its mobile devices.

This video is from The Huffington Post, published Dec. 26, 2011.

(H/T: The Telegraph)