A research and development company has set its sights on one of the Holy Grails of the mobile industry: a fuel cell small enough for a handheld or smartphone.
Fuel cells create power — and lots of it — by converting methanol into water. In fact, fuel cells produce significantly more power than an equivalent size battery.
The current problem is that these systems are all far too large to fit into a pocketable device. At this point, the best ones are at least the size of an entire handheld.
But U.K.-based QinetiQ hopes to make them much smaller.
This company has the backing of the camera-maker Olympus, according to Fuel Cell Today, but it still doesn’t think it will have a marketable product in the near future.
In fact, QinetiQ only expects to have a prototype of a miniature fuel cell ready in 2008, at least two years from now.
At that point, it will take still more time before it can be turned into something ready to be part of shipping devices.
Still, as it has around 20 years’ experience in fuel cell design and development, QinetiQ seems to know what it is talking about.
But, of course, it is hardly the only company working to create a handheld- or smartphone-sized fuel cell. One of the biggest of these is Japan’s Toshiba corporation. But, so far, no one has succeeded, so the market is still wide open.
More information on QinetiQ is available on its web site.