All these demonstrations serve only to show how far the technology has to go. For the record, I think fuel cells have a very important role to play in the energy supply chain, I just don’t think personal electronics is the proper application area. (Pro-sumer and up is a different thing entirely.)

Beyond the issue of size (the cell will continue to shrink during development), laptops and other high-power portable devices already have a significant heat issue, and adding a high-temperature chemical process into the package will not help. We already have people burning themselves from hi-denisty laptop batteries; you could cook your breakfast on a fuel-cell laptop. (Not to mention the fire safety issue.)  

Electronics companies are promoting fuel cells as an environmentally-friendly and convenient alternative to traditional lithium ion batteries.

The technology promises to supplement or replace today’s batteries in laptops. Instead of storing power, fuel cells generate electricity by breaking down methanol via an electrochemical process.

The cells can be recharged by topping them up with methanol from a cartridge.

Recently, Toshiba, Hitachi, Fujitsu, Samsung and Sanyo, among others, have shown prototypes that suggest that the technology is just around the corner.

It has taken time to shrink parts such as pumps to sizes small enough for the fuel cells to be commercially acceptable.

Now, if this were a laptop in a remote area, or was a desktop replacement, that would be a different issue. Fuel Cells (until such time that the core technology progresses to the point that heat is not the issue) are excellent sources of power where renewability of the source, toxicity, or duration of operation is the issue.



  1. Mike Voice says:

    Since first hearing about Segways, I’ve believed fuel cells would be the only thing that would make them [more?] plausible for use by the general public.

    But the article makes it clear that the technology is neither small enough nor powerful enough for that purpose – yet.

  2. Gillz says:

    i dont like the idea of having to buy stuff to keep my notebook running. although i’m sure methanol is cheap and u could probably make it urself if u were eager enough.

  3. bquady says:

    #4 You get free electricity?


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