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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fuel-cell powered devices getting closer

Monday, December 1, 2008
Potential tiny fuel cells, powered by combustible liquids or gasses could power a laptop for days between refills. But fuel cells will take another one to two years for commercial use as companies have worked on making them small, cheap and long-lasting, while making sure they don't overheat. Fuel cells, in which a tiny amount of fuel flows into a small chip to generate electricity without combustion, would allow users to skip the wall plug and simply swap out a fuel cartridge to continue listening to music or check e-mail.

Lilliputian Systems Inc., a Wilmington, Mass., firm founded by former Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers, plans to introduce a portable fuel cell late next year for any device that can be charged via a USB port. The cigarette-pack-size charger will use a canister of butane, the same fuel used in cigarette lighters, to juice up an iPod, BlackBerry, GPS device or digital camera. Each teaspoon of the fuel can provide 20 times the run time of a battery of the same size. The charging system would likely sell for $100 to $150 with refill cartridges retailing for $1 to $3. MTI current methanol fuel cell can produce about three times the energy of a lithium ion battery, common in cell phones. And it is aiming further improvements could one day have the cell last ten times longer than lithium.

Panasonic is promising a fuel cell that can power a laptop for 20 hours on a cup of methanol, but the company says it won't hit stores until 2012.

Medis Technologies Ltd. has come out with a 1-watt liquid borohydride fuel cell recharger that can provide 30 hours of cell phone talk time. The 24-7 Power Pack is slightly larger than a deck of cards and can't be refueled, so it has to be recycled once it's exhausted. VIA

Angstrom Power’s G2 portable fuel cell power source.
That can be used to top off any device that charges with a USB connection. Angstrom says that the G2 itself can also be replenished “in minutes,” by using an Angstrom P2 Portable Refueling Cartridge or an R1 Refueling Station, and it can withstand “several charges” before it needs to be refueled. No word on pricing or availability, but it will likely show up before those fuel cell-powered cellphones, which seem to be on track for a release around 2010. VIA

Sony Corp prototyped a fuel-cell system small enough to fit in one hand. The size of the system is about 50 × 30mm, which was realized by combining a fuel cell, Li-polymer secondary battery, control circuit and so forth.
The new fuel-cell system is direct methanol type and uses methanol as fuel. Also, it is an active fuel-cell system, which controls fuel supply with a pump. The system is hybrid type with the output supplemented by a Li-polymer secondary battery. And it can deal with steeply rising peak powers of mobile devices. Also, its use efficiency of energy is high enough that 14 hours of 1seg movie can be continuously played by general mobile phones with 10mL of methanol. VIA

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