Toshiba Corporation has developed two prototype direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) units and begun tests to validate their operation with mobile audio players. Each unit integrates the DMFC that Toshiba announced in June 2004 as the smallest ones available.
The new fuel cell units have an output power of 100mW and 300mW and have been applied to a flash-memory-based digital audio player and an HDD-based digital audio player, respectively
The 100mW unit, similar in shape and size to a pack of gum (23mm x 75mm x 10mm), can power the flash-based player for approximately 35 hours on a single 3.5ml charge of highly concentrated methanol, the fuel that drives the electricity producing chemical reaction in the fuel cell. The 300mW unit is 60mm x 75mm x 10mm and delivers enough power to keep an HDD-based audio player running for approximately 60 hours on a single 10ml charge.
The design of the fuel cell units reflects current moves toward international standardization of micro fuel cells and meets the International Electrotechnical Commission's draft safety standards now under review.
Toshiba's DMFC features a passive fuel supply system that is suited to smaller fuel cells and use with a highly concentrated methanol solution. Fuel cells usually mix methane with water in a concentration of less than 30%, a dilution that supports generating efficiency but which requires a fuel tank that is much too big for portable equipment.
Through durability and reliability tests with the new units, Toshiba will accelerate technology enhancements, including development of production technology, to support integration of DMFC into commercial products expected to appear in and after 2007.
Visitors to the CEATEC JAPAN 2005 will be able to see these new prototypes.