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Toshiba develops first-ever fuel cell for laptop computers

7
joshuawesley
03-07-2003
03:43 PM ET (US)
A direct methanol fuel cell needs to run on about 6% to 10% methanol in water. But that would make the tank far too big. So I think this one gets filled up with "concentrated methanol," and then it uses the water produced by the fuel cell to dilute the "concentrated methanol" to the proper potency. "Concentrated methanol" is probably something between pure methanol and the dilute 6% the device actually eats. Why thy decided to call that concentrated, only they will ever know.
6
TechnophobePerson was signed in when posted
03-06-2003
07:19 PM ET (US)
Like the alcohol you drink, methanol comes in various concentrations or strengths. I suspect Toshiba is using something approaching 100% or absolute methanol (200 proof).
5
BuzzPerson was signed in when posted
03-06-2003
10:59 AM ET (US)
I am a bit confused at "concentrated methanol." Being that methanol is a pure substance, it does not get any more concentrated.
4
Stefan JonesPerson was signed in when posted
03-05-2003
06:27 PM ET (US)
Five hours? Still not long enough. Especially with a larger form-factor.

Gimme ten hours of fairly active operation from a power pack of the same size and I'll buy one for sure.
3
TechnophobePerson was signed in when posted
03-05-2003
05:11 PM ET (US)
I'm waiting for the one the Russians are working on that runs on vodka. It only lasts one hour, but you don't care any more.
2
Jimmy HotepPerson was signed in when posted
03-05-2003
12:37 PM ET (US)
Ah, knew that sounded familiar. Motorola was working on a project back in 2000 to use this technology for high drain portable devices - primarily cellphones where the battery has long been the weak link in handset evolution, but laptops were also on the radar.

This version was a tech transfer project using technology developed at Los Alamos. LANL apparently has much bigger things to worry about these days than whether it's making its skunkworks projects turn a buck in the private sector.

Sounds like the same basic technology. The point of the methanol was an easier way to store the hydrogen for the fuel cell. It took in outside air for oxygen and gave off CO2, albeit in a handset application the amounts of both were considered negligible. They were still in the R&D stage, but the times they were talking about were vastly better than what Toshiba's claiming - a good week for a laptop and up to a month for a cellphone.

Haven't heard any more out of Motorola so the life may not have been as long as they'd hoped, or there could have been other problems alongside the new one Craniac mentions.
1
Craniac
03-05-2003
12:19 PM ET (US)
That concentrated methanol will be a big hit at airports.

"In the news today, several large jets were brought down by Molotov Laptops. Film at 11."

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