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Toshiba develops methanol fuel cell for portable apps

Posted: 06 Mar 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:toshiba? direct methanol fuel cell? dfmc? fuel cell? lithium ion battery?

Toshiba Corp. has announced the development of the world's first prototype of a small form factor direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) designed to replace Li-ion batteries in portable devices such as cellphones, notebook PCs, and PDAs.

The DFMC realizes an average output of 12W and a maximum output of 20W, as well as an operating time of about five hours. The device measures 275-by-75-by-40mm and weighs 900g. It has a nominal voltage of 11V.

The use of methanol is claimed by the company to deliver efficient power when mixed with water in a three percent or six percent methanol concentration. Toshiba developed a technology that allows the storage of this type of methanol concentration into a fuel tank a tenth of the size of conventional storage tanks.

Further miniaturization has also been achieved on the interface and electric circuits that control the power supply, sensors that monitor methanol concentration and liquid level, and quantity sensor, the company said. A miniature dc/dc converter controls these components. Toshiba also used a new material for the cell to achieve a smaller size and allow the miniaturization of the cell stacks.

The DFMC uses the same electrodes as those in Li-ion batteries, allowing it to be directly connected to a PC or other portable device in the same way as a Li-ion battery. It can also be used as an alternative to lithium-ion batteries.

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