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Methanol Fuel Cells at Cebit
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Posted 2005-03-12 12:38 PM
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Toshiba has demonstrated for the first time an operating prototype fuel cell for notebook PCs at the Cebit trade show in Germany.

[The Fuel Cells or] DMFCs are being developed to replace batteries for portable electronic devices and they typically work by mixing methanol with air and water to produce electrical power. Only methanol is required as fuel, and the by-products are heat and water.
The prototype shown at Cebit produces about 20 watts of power and can power an A5-size Portege M300 notebook PC for about 10 hours on a single charge of nearly 100 percent concentration of methanol, according to the company.

Source: InfoWorld

If it is the case that with a notebook PC these days one can expect a battery life of around 3 hours, then on the same ratio a current generation dry cell Lithium Ion powered Handheld PC, connected to a fuel cell of the same physical dimensions could possibly expect to see upwards of between 30 hours and 45 hours!

While in reality a Handheld PC would demand a physically smaller power pack, and there would be obvious complications with weight and security. The technology could really put an injection into the mobile device industry with H/PC style devices offering week long usage for many users between refuelling.
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Posted 2005-03-12 2:12 PM
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Interesting concept...good thing they chose methanol...if they had chosen ethanol the pocketpcs would always be dead....but it might resolve charging issues....low on power, pour in a bottle of Jim Beam.

Seriously though, I wonder what the cost per unit of power is over conventional batteries....

Rich
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Posted 2005-03-12 6:01 PM
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Rich Hawley - 2005-03-12 11:12 AM

Interesting concept...good thing they chose methanol...if they had chosen ethanol the pocketpcs would always be dead....but it might resolve charging issues....low on power, pour in a bottle of Jim Beam.

lol... you'd have a nation of PDA users turning into alcoholics overnight... "One for Ipaq, one for me... one for Ipaq, two for me..."

Imagine the embarassment, though, of walking into a liquor store and explaining that you need a bottle of booze for your handheld... "Have to get 'er drunk before she'll cooperate, eh?"
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Posted 2005-03-12 6:51 PM
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hahaha ... getting her drunk and stuffs ...

I think the cost is important. But this could be a paradigm shift altogether. If notebooks get 30+ hours on a single charge of fuel ... it could break the whole usage patterns!!! what did u say? oh, you mean that's for the ultra-mega-supreme-professional battery pack? The one that cost $300 and $299 per charge??

I just hope the pricing is good. One thing for sure, this won't go down well with solar-fanclubs and also rechargeable-everything-campers. And that includes me ...

But on the upside, maybe the paradigm shift is so great, who cares about rechargeables??
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Posted 2005-05-10 10:37 PM
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I burnt out the low fuel light in my truck because I let my gas get down to Empty way too much. I appreciate the technological significance of the invention, but I don't think I wan;t anything else that I have to "gas up" on a regular basis.
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Posted 2005-05-11 6:48 AM
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For me, batteries are hard to maintain. They die too quickly. I don't get along with them very well.

But if this methanol fuel is reliable I think I can switch. Innovative businesses like Toshiba, take into consideration how lazy customers want to be, so don't worry, they will make things convenient before they mass market them.

Just picture this, instead of plugging your gadget to a power outlet, plug it to a methanol outlet. Buy a year worth of methanol fuel and you'll be sit. Who knows, maybe soon we'll find methanol outlets instead of electricity outlets everywhere!! maybe not.
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Posted 2005-05-11 7:24 PM
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why, what are you doing wrong with your batteries?
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Posted 2005-05-14 6:47 PM
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C:Amie - 2005-03-12 12:38 PM
If it is the case that with a notebook PC these days one can expect a battery life of around 3 hours, then on the same ratio a current generation dry cell Lithium Ion powered Handheld PC, connected to a fuel cell of the same physical dimensions could possibly expect to see upwards of between 30 hours and 45 hours!


Reading the specs of both the Portege M300 and the fuel cell demoed, seems to me that the Portege could run for much longer on a Li-Ion battery of that size. The cell weighed 1kg and was one litre in volume. The Portege's standard 6 cell battery lasts 6 hours. This tech definitely needs more work. (I now have an image in my mind of an H/PC attached to a 1kg one litre fuel cell.)
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