NEC, Hitachi prep notebook fuel cells

Does your laptop run on unleaded?

NEC and Hitachi have joined the mad dash to devise fuel cells for notebook computers and other mobile devices.

Both companies separately demo'd their offerings at the Nano Tech 2003 show, held in Japan recently, AsiaBizTech reports today.

Toshiba announced earlier this week that it had developed a prototype fuel cell system. It will show the prototype off at CeBit next week. Like Toshiba, both firms hope to commercialise their products between 2004 and 2005.

All three companies hope to sell alternatives to spare notebook batteries. Ultimately they plan to replace rechargeable batteries with fuel cells.

NEC's system uses what it calls "carbon nano horns" as an electrode. It can pump out 12W of power, rising to a maximum of 18W. The focus of NEC's development work is equipping the fuel cell with monitoring and management systems to ensure smooth, stable power generation.

Hitachi is targeting the PDA market rather than PC applications. Its cell uses metallic nano particles between 1nm and 2nm in diameter as an electrode catalyst.

It's not clear what fuel the NEC and Hitachi fuel cells 'burn', but if they follow Toshiba's example and use methanol, they may run into problems. As a number of Register readers have pondered, how keen will airport authorities and the like be on passengers bringing liquid combustible fuels on board aircraft? ®

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The AsiaBizTech story