Toshiba today announced a prototype of a compact direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC). This opens the way to the use of DMFC as an alternative for rechargeable batteries for mobile devices like digital cameras, cell phones, PDAs, mobile TVs, ...
Toshiba led the industry in announcing the first DMFC for portable PCs in March this year. The latest announcement confirms that the company remains a step ahead of its competitors in developing the potential of fuel cells. Toshiba expects to commercialize DMFC for both portable PCs and handheld products within 2005.
Toshiba's new DMFC for portable devices realizes an average output of 1 watt per hour for approximately twenty hours of operation as total on a single 25cc fuel cartridge of high concentration methanol.
Drawing on know-how gained in its work on DMFC for portable PCs, Toshiba achieved the miniaturization necessary for a fuel cell for use with handheld products by minimizing the size of auxiliary parts, such as the fuel tank, the liquid and air transmission pumps, the interface and electric circuits and the DC-DC converter. The methanol fuel is also stored at a high concentration, allowing the fuel cartridge to be reduced to a volume of only 25cc. The fruit of these development efforts is a DMFC with a volume off only 140cc; a DMFC that fits snugly into the palm of the hand.
Toshiba will present the DMFC for portable devices at CEATEC JAPAN 2003 in Makuhari Messe to be held in Chiba prefecture, Japan from October 7 to 11.
Some key technologies
Methanol in a fuel cell delivers power most efficiently when mixed with water
in a 3 to 6% methanol concentration -- a concentration requiring a fuel tank
that is much too large for use with portable equipment. Toshiba overcame this by
developing a system that allows a higher concentration of methanol to be diluted
by the water produced as a by-product of the power generation process. This
technology allows methanol to be stored at a much higher concentration, and
achieves a fuel tank less than 1/10 the size of that required for storing the
same volume of methanol in a 3 to 6% concentration. The current prototype can
operate for approximately twenty hours on 25cc of high concentration methanol.
Toshiba will continue development of DFMC technology, with the aim of product
commercialization for portable PCs and cellular phones within 2005.
||Methanol fuel cell directly connected to portable devices
||Average 1 watt
||100 x 60 x 30mm (140cc)
||130 g (with fuel cartridge)
||Approximately twenty hours with 25cc of high concentration methanol
||30 g (with 25cc of methanol fuel)
||30 x 60 x 20mm