Toshiba has a prototype of a Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC) that is small enough to fit in portable electronic devices.
Many long-time handheld users look back with nostalgia to the days when their handhelds ran for weeks or even months on a pair of AAA batteries. Batteries simply haven’t kept up with the increasing power demands made by color screens, faster processors, and wireless networking.
A potential solution is methanol fuel cells. These convert methanol into water and electricity, and can power electronics for much longer than batteries can.
Unfortunately, methanol fuel cells are mostly still on the drawing board, and most of the working models are much too large to fit in a handheld.
However, the BBC is reporting that Toshiba is showing off a prototype for a DMFC that is just 2.2 inches long, 0.87 inches wide, and 0.18 inches thick. It weighs 0.30 ounces when filled with a methanol and water solution.
While this is larger than typical handheld batteries, this fuel cell supplies much more power. Toshiba says the 100 milliwatts it provides is enough to run an MP3 player for about 20 hours
Toshiba expects these to hit the market next year.
This isn’t the first prototype DMFC that this company has shown the world, but previous versions were significantly larger.
Thanks to Stephen Trew for the tip.