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Carrier to offer fuel-cell mobiles by March 06

Japan's KDDI peers into the future

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Japanese mobile phone network KDDI will next month demo a pair of handsets both powered by fuel cells. They're prototypes, of course, but the carrier hopes to have versions available for its consumers to try by the end of its fiscal year.

The two phones were co-developed with Toshiba and Hitachi The Toshiba handset is a modified A5509T, which has a direct methanol fuel cell built on the back, above a regular internal Lithium-ion battery.

KDDI fuel-cell phones
KDDI's tweaked Toshiba A5509T (left) and Hitachi W32H (right)

The fuel cell's refillable 7cc tank contains enough concentrated methanol - it's in a 99.5 per cent solution - to provide 2.5 times the operational duration of the regular battery, KDDI claimed.

A Hitachi W32H handset has been similarly augmented, though this time the fuel cell is mounted on the display-side of the clamshell handset. Hitachi's fuel-cell system also uses methanol, though the concentration is no more than 60 per cent, and its reservoir can hold only 3cc of the liquid.

Both cells have a 300mW power output.

KDDI will show the phones at CEATEC, which opens in Japan on 4 October, and are to be presented as "fuel-cell handsets of the near future". KDDI's current fiscal year ends 31 March 2006, so the future could be very near indeed. ®

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