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Fuel cell-powered phones still years away: Nokia

Supply chain issues, apparently

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If the supply chain was ready, we could have fuel cells in our mobile phone handsets tomorrow, according to handset manufacturer, Nokia.

Early last year, the company said it was calling time on developing the technology which it then described as "immature".

But 18-months later, Nokia research centre head Tapani Ryhanen told reporters at a seminar celebrating the 20th anniversary of the facility that Nokia had tested the technology underlying fuel cells and is confident it is ready.

Fuel cells generate electricity as a by-product of the oxidisation of dilute methanol. Although this technology has been well understood, the problem has always been making a small enough cell to provide a phone with decent battery life.

But now, Nokia seems confident it has overcome this barrier: "It is not a technology question, it is more like a supply-chain issue at the moment," Ryhanen said.

The issue that has still to be resolved is how to get the fuel to consumers, Reuters reports. Initially this is the one issue the company said would be reasonably easy to solve: it proposed refilling the cells in much the same way as a cigarette lighter can be refilled when it runs out of butane.

"A few years you would still need to wait," Ryhanen concluded, Yoda-style. ®

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