Toshiba Corporation today announced a prototype of a highly compact, direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) that opens the way to the use of DMFC as an alternative power source to recharge batteries for personal devices as small as cell phones, digital still cameras, PDAs and mobile TVs. The new DMFC will provide greater freedom for users to easily recharge the batteries in a mobile environment, whether they are away from home, traveling on business or out on a beach. The new DMFC is small enough to fit in a carry-on bag or even in a jeans pocket as a portable power source.
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.
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