Feeds

Toshiba touts pump-free fuel cell for MP3 players

Fuel is not sold in a forest, nor fish in a lake

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Toshiba has produced a fuel cell with no moving parts. Instead of pumps, the tiny 5.6 x 2.2 x 0.5-0.9cm power pack uses a "concentration gradient" to feed fuel and oxygen to the catalyst-covered electrode where they react to generate electricity.

Toshiba's matchbox-sized fuel cellThe company claims the unit, unveiled as a prototype yesterday, is the world's smallest 100mW fuel cell.

Like other fuel cells, the Toshiba unit is a direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC). Methanol in a ten per cent concentration touches an electrode separated from a second electrode by a polymer membrane. When air is brought into contact with the second electrode, current flows through any circuit linking the two electrodes.

Getting the membrane right is crucial to preventing air and methanol combining without starting a power-generating reaction. Another problem is the need to pack in enough high-concentration methanol to provide either a long running time or to use as small a fuel reservoir as possible before reducing the concentration sufficiently to trigger the reaction.

Toshiba's prototype uses a structure that progressively dilutes the methanol as it passes from the fuel tank to the reaction chamber. The structure causes methanol to flow through the system without the need to drive it with a pump. The downside is that the cell generates less power, but that makes it more suitable for highly mobile applications.

The refillable fuel tank holds 2cc of methanol in 99.5 per cent concentration - almost ten times the concentration required for the power-producing reaction.

The 8.5g cell generates 100mW of power - enough, Toshiba said, to run am MP3 player for 20 hours.

Last October, the company unveiled a 130g DMFC designed to be used to recharge a phone's own battery rather than as a replacement for it. It generated an average output of 1W and can run for 20 hours - enough, says Toshiba, to recharge a typical phone battery six times.

In March both NEC and Hitachi demonstrated notebook-oriented fuel cells, as did Toshiba. Intel-funded start up PolyFuel is also working on direct methanol fuel cells for laptops. So is German company Smart Fuel Cells.

Toshiba expects to commercialise DMFC technology for PCs in 2004 and for smaller handheld devices in 2005. ®

Related stories

Toshiba demos cellphone fuel cell
Toshiba boffins prep laptop fuel cell
Sulphur fuels battery breakthrough
Fujitsu breakthrough slims fuel cell size
Hitachi readies fuel cell for PDAs
NEC, Hitachi prep notebook fuel cells
Fuel cell to power notebooks and mobile phones
Motorola claims alcoholic PC breakthrough

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
TEEN RAMPAGE: Kids in iPhone 6 'Will it bend' YouTube 'prank'
iPhones bent in Norwich? As if the place wasn't weird enough
Consumers agree to give up first-born child for free Wi-Fi – survey
This Herod network's ace – but crap reception in bullrushes
Crouching tiger, FAST ASLEEP dragon: Smugglers can't shift iPhone 6s
China's grey market reports 'sluggish' sales of Apple mobe
Sea-Me-We 5 construction starts
New sub cable to go live 2016
New EU digi-commish struggles with concepts of net neutrality
Oettinger all about the infrastructure – but not big on substance
PEAK IPV4? Global IPv6 traffic is growing, DDoS dying, says Akamai
First time the cache network has seen drop in use of 32-bit-wide IP addresses
EE coughs to BROKEN data usage metrics BLUNDER that short-changes customers
Carrier apologises for 'inflated' measurements cockup
Comcast: Help, help, FCC. Netflix and pals are EXTORTIONISTS
The others guys are being mean so therefore ... monopoly all good, yeah?
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.