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Toshiba exec: Micro fuel cells unready for market

Posted: 22 Aug 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:micro fuel cells? Toshiba exec? mainstream market?

A Toshiba Corp. executive said micro fuel cells are not expected to break into the mainstream market in the next several years, despite continued R&D efforts.

"I don't think that we will see much until the end of the decade," said Stephen Marlow, executive VP for Toshiba's U.S. chip unit, Toshiba America Electronics Components Inc., regarding micro fuel cell shipments entering mass markets.

A micro fuel cell is supposed to replace the battery in a notebook PC, cellphone or other handheld devices. The fuel cell is an electrochemical device that converts the chemical energy of fuel, such as hydrogen or methanol or some patented fuel, into electrical energy.

But the technology is taking longer than expected to hit the mass markets. Among the hurdles for fuel cells include environmental issues, infrastructure problems and others, Marlow said. Standards are another issue in the arena.

Micro fuel cells are expected to constitute a $12 million market in 2006 and are predicted to reach $112 million in 2011, according to a report by Innovative Research and Products.

In 2005, Toshiba announced that it has developed two prototype direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) units. In what could be an interim solution, Toshiba is also working on a so-called "power brick," resembling a universal power supply unit based on DMFC technology. The ''power brick'' is a system that could support and power multiple peripherals, according to the Toshiba executive.

- Mark LaPedus
EE Times

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