Toshiba to demo laptop fuel cell


— 12:30 PM on March 5, 2003

C|Net is reporting that Toshiba will unveil a prototype direct methanol fuel cell at next week's CeBit show.

The Japanese electronics company, which ranks among the top notebook makers, said it would present direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) technology for portable computers that can provide about five hours of power with a single cartridge of fuel.

The new fuel cell, about 275 millimeters by 75 millimeters by 40 millimeters (about 11 inches by 3 inches by 1.5 inches), provides an instant power supply for a significant amount of time using replaceable methanol cartridges, the company said.

Toshiba's fuel cell won't be the smallest or the lightest notebook power solution, but the technology does look promising. Miniaturization is one of the biggest challenges facing developers of fuel cell technology for portable devices, so it's impressive that Toshiba was able to shrink the technology this much.

Of course, charging up a fuel cell is quite a bit more involved than plugging a notebook battery into a wall outlet. In fact, the article doesn't mention Toshiba's plans for how users would charge the unit at all. Still, it's encouraging to see the research being done and at least a prototype on display. Toshiba aims to have a commercial version of the fuel cell available next year, but it will probably be some time before we see the technology used in mainstream notebooks.

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