Toshiba makes those yet-to-be-commercialized mini fuel cells smaller


Fuel cells, those electrochemical conversion devices, which are supposed to make the lives of gadget freaks easier, are still a hot topic in the alternative energy sector even though the technology hasn’t penetrated the mass market yet. Toshiba, for example, has been experimenting with fuel cells for quite some time now. And the company has now announced the development of a fuel-cell based cell phone that’s just 22mm thick.

The main achievement here is that this prototype is about 50% thinner than Toshiba’s previous one (which you see in the picture), marking another step towards commercialization in the future. The phone runs on methanol and doesn’t need to be charged.

This new prototype features a fuel cell that can be replaced with conventional lithium ion rechargeable batteries when needed (the earlier model ran on a non-detachable fuel cell). It can be filled with 3.5ml of methanol, which is enough for 320 hours of standby.

Toshiba has worked together with KDDI, Japan’s second biggest mobile phone carrier, in the development of the prototype. KDDI has already said it’s not yet ready to really sell fuel-cell-powered cell phone to end consumers, but this could change very soon. The companies already said they intend to push down the prototype phone’s thickness to 20mm or less, about the same as cell phones that are on the market right now.

Via Nikkei [registration required, paid subscription]