Toshiba unveils mobile Methanol Fuel Cell

Posted on Sunday, October 05 2003 @ 23:05 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
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.

Main Specifications

Product Methanol fuel cell directly connected to portable devices
Output Average 1 watt
Size 100 x 60 x 30mm (140cc)
Total Weight 130 g (with fuel cartridge)
Operating hours Approximately twenty hours with 25cc of high concentration methanol fuel
Cartridge weight 30 g (with 25cc of methanol fuel)
Cartridge size 30 x 60 x 20mm
Fuel Methanol

About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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