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Hitachi Readies Fuel Cell for PDAs 205

Posted by michael
from the fill-'er-up-with-unleaded dept.
Anuj Jain writes "The Register is reporting that Hitachi and Japanese cigarette lighter maker Tokai will ship a direct methanol fuel cell system for PDAs in 2005. The prototype has already been built. The two companies believe they can develop the prototype into a device the size of a AA battery. Hitachi first demonstrated its fuel cell system back in March. NEC is also known to be working on a similar system of its own, as is Toshiba. Unlike Hitachi, they are targeting the notebook computer market. In October, Toshiba showed off a PDA-sized version of its fuel system that can recharge a mobile phone. Another article here. Light on details, but cool photo in the Reg article!"
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Hitachi Readies Fuel Cell for PDAs

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  • by Space cowboy (13680) on Friday December 12, 2003 @01:49PM (#7702792) Journal

    Yep, that'd be the hydrogen :-)

    Simon.
    • Recharge? (Score:5, Funny)

      by medscaper (238068) on Friday December 12, 2003 @01:58PM (#7702926) Homepage
      ...methanol fuel cell systems...


      Tech : No, sir. You should NOT try to recharge them like that...

    • by Erioll (229536)
      But it isn't pure hydrogen. They are reforming Methanol, which if I remember correctly, is CH3OH. A lot of us know that the products of the Hydrogen-Oxygen fuel cell is just pure water, but what OTHER products are there for this process? The carbon at least has to be accounted for somehow. I've never seen that answered anywhere. If anybody has a link or something, that would be appreciated.

      Erioll
  • Early Adopter? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by l810c (551591) * on Friday December 12, 2003 @01:50PM (#7702804)
    After reading this [pcmag.com], not sure if I will be.

    Also, the thought of a liquid methanol next to all those hot electronics make me wince.

    Akmed to airport security: "I told you, I'm a laptop battery salesman..."

    • Re:Early Adopter? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kris Thalamus (555841) * <.selectivepressure. .at. .gmail.com.> on Friday December 12, 2003 @01:58PM (#7702933)
      Even if the amount methanol in these AA size cells poses no risk, I still think manufactures should consider changing the changing the name of the devices to something other than "fuel cell"; If, for no other reason, than to quell the paranoia of the litigation prone public and the sensationalist press.

      It's a sad state of affairs, but PR and marketing can make all the difference to the acceptance of a nascent technologh.
    • Re:Early Adopter? (Score:5, Informative)

      by ivan256 (17499) * on Friday December 12, 2003 @02:04PM (#7703031)
      Last I checked, they served 80 proof alcoholic beverages on airplanes. These things use a 20% methanol solution. They're way safer than a nip from the bar cart.

      There is zero chance of one catching fire in your pocket too. You can't say that about the LiIon cell in your Tungsten T3.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 12, 2003 @02:10PM (#7703116)
        I wouldn't recomend drinking methonol.

        Well I might, depending on what kind of person you are. But in general I wouldn't.
        • Re:Early Adopter? (Score:4, Informative)

          by pla (258480) on Friday December 12, 2003 @03:12PM (#7703873) Journal
          I wouldn't recomend drinking methonol.

          I think he meant more that it won't catch on fire, rather than you can safely drink it. The ethanol comparison only referred to relative concentrations of the flamable substance (40% served as drinks, vs 20% in fuel cells, neither of which will light on fire).

          For a comparison of safety of chemicals involved, modern batteries contain things that will not only will harm you if ingested, but they will burn skin on contact. Methanol might dry out your skin (like an astringent), but comes nowhere near an actual caustic burn.
          • Re:Early Adopter? (Score:2, Informative)

            by Your Pal Dave (33229)
            Methanol might dry out your skin (like an astringent), but comes nowhere near an actual caustic burn.


            One problem with methanol is that it easily soaks right through your skin into your bloodstream. According to one MSDS I have read, the potential exposure level through skin absorption can be comparable to that of directly inhaling methanol vapors.

            Be careful!
      • Re:Early Adopter? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by GoofyBoy (44399)
        They also have cutlery on planes that can be used as a weapon but you can't bring your own stuff on board.

        Also, even if a security guard understands your reasoning, I doubt that you can still get on with "chemicals".
      • FWIW, Methanol does have a lower flashpoint (12C) than ethanol (16.6C). Having them in solutions does help to mitigate the flammability hazards, granted.

      • Re:Early Adopter? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Zardoz44 (687730)
        80 proof means 40% alcohol by volume, and that's mostly Ethanol. Methanol is a different beast.

        See here. [iupui.edu]

    • Dvorak is both a moron and a whore who says whatever companies pay him to say. I wouldn't make any decisions based on what he says.
    • Huh? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Eric_Cartman_South_P (594330) on Friday December 12, 2003 @03:11PM (#7703852)

      Also, the thought of a liquid methanol next to all those hot electronics make me wince.

      I'm sure the though of having 10-20 gallons of GAS! just a yard away from your ass, and forcing the gas into cylinders where it will be mixed with air and EXPLODE thousands of times a second might also make you wince!

      I guess I can cross of full cells for the Palm, and cars from your x-mas wish list. :)

      • and forcing the gas into cylinders where it will be mixed with air and EXPLODE thousands of times a second might also make you wince

        GodDAMN! Let's just do the calculations, there. I'll say thousands = 2000, for arguments' sake. 2000 of times a second for each cylinder firing. So, for a standard rice-burner, let's call it a 4-banger...at 7,000 RPMs, you're talking 14,000 explosions per minute.

        Ok, so for 2000 explosions per second, you'd need at least...what? around 60,000 RPMs. (30,000 or so for a V-8)

        You

  • This is all the more reason for there to be a transparent case option for pda's. How cool would it be to see the board, plus a glow-in-the-dark mod'ed fuel cell? Sweet!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 12, 2003 @01:52PM (#7702833)
    there are four (yes, 4) links to theregister up there. the one with the pic is the first one.
  • by Hell O'World (88678) on Friday December 12, 2003 @01:52PM (#7702836)
    Coming soon, the worlds first combination PDA-cigarette lighter!
  • Competing Technology (Score:5, Informative)

    by Leme (303299) <jboyceNO@SPAMci.redding.ca.us> on Friday December 12, 2003 @01:53PM (#7702843)
    There is also a competing technology being developed using sodium borohydride. You can read about it at Wired, at the following URL , http://www.wired.com/news/technology/0,1282,60305, 00.html
    • by AKAImBatman (238306) <akaimbatmanNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday December 12, 2003 @02:25PM (#7703298) Homepage Journal
      I'd rather have a battery that never dies. Get me a radioisotope with a half-life of 20 years or less, and use a few grams to propel a tiny Stirling engine driving a 3/4" DC generator. That should be good for at least a few watts of power per stack. One stack could power your cell phone no problem. A larger stack (or perhaps parallel stack) could generate enough power to at least recharge your laptop when not in use. Perhaps even provide constant power.

      Screw fuel cells. I want atomic!

      • I don't know if the politically correct police told you or not, but you're not allowed to promote nuclear energy.

        you're supposed to ignore the inescapeable pollution and toxins that fossil fuels and lead-acid batteries dump into our atmosphere, and forget that nuclear power provides at the very least the opportunity for sealed system waste.

        nope, we'd rather be 100% certain that we're asphyxiating ourselves and the planet rather than run the risk of irradiating a designated part of it.

        any talk of a nuclea
        • Damn straight. People have been lied to six ways to Sunday by the eco-terrorists who think nuclear energy is somehow going to magically kill us all. The truth is that:

          1. Nuclear energy is *cleaner* than fossil fuels and battery chemicals.

          2. "Nuclear waste" is a misnomer as that stuff can be reused in devices such as RTGs, SRGs, medical applications, and industrial equipment! The stuff that can't be reused can be reprocessed pretty easily. Currently, the government has shut down nuclear reprocessing for fe
          • by Idarubicin (579475) <allsquiet.hotmail@com> on Friday December 12, 2003 @05:57PM (#7706020) Journal
            Some forms of radiation (e.g. alpha and beta) are not even a serious threat! Alpha radiation is incapable of penetrating the skin. Beta radiation can only do so in large quantities, and then it's akin to getting a strong electric shock. (i.e. Lots of burns and such.)

            Are you smoking crack? Alpha emissions are indeed incapable of penetrating our dead outer layer of skin--but that does not make them harmless. If ingested or inhaled, alpha emitters are extremely dangerous. Alpha radiation is a much more effective mutagen (and consequently carcinogen) than beta or gamma radiation, precisely because it has poor penetrating power. All of the energy each alpha particle carries is deposited along a short path, doing significantly more damage--causing things like double-stranded DNA breaks. One mechanism by which cigarettes may cause cancer is mutations in the lungs caused by inhaled polonium-210 particles from tobacco. (Po-210 is an alpha emitter.)

            Many alpha emitters are also potent chemical poisons, such that their direct toxic effects on exposure (ingestion) can kill more quickly than their radiological ones. (Plutonium, for instance, falls into this basket.)

            People will crush these things inadvertantly, they'll leave them out in the rain, they'll lose them, they'll leave dozens of cells in their office drawers, they'll throw them out with the regular trash, they'll dispose of them by incineration. (All the stupid things that people do with batteries now.)

            Power cells containing high specific activity nuclear materials are an interesting concept, but they do not belong in consumer products--because consumers will do incredibly stupid things with them. Radioisotopes require competent supervision.

            For the record, I am a physicist.

            • And what happens if you drink radiator fluid? Or battery acid? Or take a bite out our of an electronic device?

              YES, people do stupid things. That's called pollution. Haven't you heard all the commercials about properly disposing of your chemicals and batteries?

              Besides, the amount of radioisotope scales with the application. A cell phone would need barely a few grams. A laptop might need a hundred grams. Seal these in the proper container (e.g. Lead), and you'll have an efficient heater. The heater powers t
    • Is it so hard to give a link instead of a broken string?

      Clicky, clicky [wired.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The PDA unfortunately has pop-ups that come up every 5 minutes telling you how smoking is good for you and increases your annual income.
  • EtOH (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zumbojo (615389) on Friday December 12, 2003 @01:55PM (#7702883) Homepage
    Ethanol stores more chemical energy, is easier to make, easier to come by in a pinch (cheap vodka anyone?), and is much less toxic than methanol. Why the hell aren't they using ethanol?
    • Re:EtOH (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kevin Burtch (13372) on Friday December 12, 2003 @02:05PM (#7703038)

      Simple, you can't drink methanol.
      If they made it run on ethanol, moonshine would have to be legalized.
      This is why, when you go to Home Depot to buy a gallon can of alcohol for cleaning or fuel, it's denatured (ethanol mixed with methanol to poison it).
      No, you can't run it on cheap vodka, whiskey, or any other kind of legally sold consumable alcohol, as there's far too many impurities - it would destroy the cell.

      Now making it run on denatured alcohol would be ideal, since it is readily available and extremely inexpensive. I'm not sure it won't run on it, in fact it probably will.

      • Re:EtOH (Score:3, Informative)

        by SilkBD (533537)
        Your argument is questionable, GM has an article about an Ethanol fueled car and station in Missouri: http://www.gm.com/company/gmability/environment/ne ws_issues/news/e85_awareness_103003.html [gm.com]

        • Nope... it proves my point.
          Instead of poisoning the ethanol with methanol, they poison it with 15% gasoline (probably because it's cheaper).
          Either way it prevents people from drinking it.

          My point is that they won't make something that runs on pure ethanol because they can't sell pure ethanol - the dept. of Alcohol Tobacco & Firearms would take issue with that.
      • by gl4ss (559668)
        denaturalized ethanol(that's made to taste like crap, like really really crap).

        they sell it all over the place over here.. when finland joined eu methanol started appearing on wiper fluids & etc(because eu allows it) around here.

        now.. in the middle europe there is no reason for anyone to be drinking wiper fluids when you can get vodka at the same place at comparable prices.

        needless to say that we have ridiculous alcohol taxes only rivalled by even more ridiculous laws at norway..

        well what's a poor s
    • Why not ethanol (Score:5, Interesting)

      by wowbagger (69688) on Friday December 12, 2003 @02:07PM (#7703078) Homepage Journal
      The reason they don't want to use ethanol is precisely BECAUSE it is the same as alcohol.

      If they use ethanol, they have to treat the refills just as they would have to treat vodka - they cannot sell it to anybody under-age, they have to have a liquor license to sell it, they got to prison if they violate the rules.

      That is why you don't see pure ethanol at the gas pump, that is why you won't see ethanol fuel for fuel cells.

      Now, the COULD try to design the fuel cell to run on ethanol, as well, and leave the fact as a "back door" sort of issue, but any fuel they sell will have to be denatured in some form. The easiest way is to use methanol.
      • The reason they don't want to use ethanol is precisely BECAUSE it is the same as alcohol.

        If they use ethanol, they have to treat the refills just as they would have to treat vodka - they cannot sell it to anybody under-age, they have to have a liquor license to sell it, they got to prison if they violate the rules.


        And they'd pay a lot of extra taxes.

        Now, the COULD try to design the fuel cell to run on ethanol, as well, and leave the fact as a "back door" sort of issue, but any fuel they sell will have
    • Re:EtOH (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ThosLives (686517)
      Uhh, it's a fuel cell, not combustion, so using heat of combustion doesn't make much sense.

      My educated guess is that it's more desirable to strip hydrogen off methanol than ethanol to get hydrogen for the fuel cell operation than ethanol. (Desirable here could be cost, package size, efficiency, whatever - I'm no expert.) I do know that you get *slightly* more hydrogen per mass of ethanol (6/46 vs 4/32) than you do per mass of methanol - so i'm not sure. But, methanol is easier to vaporize, might have diff

  • by ivan256 (17499) * on Friday December 12, 2003 @01:56PM (#7702892)
    sufficient fuel to power a handheld device for six to eight hours.

    That's meaningless! Give me some hard data! What's the voltage, the peak and average current ratings, the amp-hours? Can it blink a handheld LED for 6 hours, or run a 400Mhz ARM core with a backlit color display for 6 hours? Is the power density higher than an LiIon battery of the same size? How much does it cost? Can it be refilled in place without turning off the device?

    Seems to me that if this was actually signifigant progress, they'd be telling us all this.
    • Seems to me that if this was actually signifigant progress, they'd be telling us all this.

      Not at all. I think the problem is there are relatively few people who would know or care about those specs. Most people want to know something to which they can relate, like hours of use. You and I know that it's a relatively useless measure, but the general population knows of no other way.

      It's the same reason we get sizes measured in "Libraries of Congress." Nebulous and useless, but people at least think the
  • by G4from128k (686170) on Friday December 12, 2003 @01:58PM (#7702921)
    I wonder how much methanol will be needed to keep modern laptops running? At 50 W power consumption, a laptop consumes about as much energy as half a person. With an energy content of 19.5 MJ/kg MeOH and assuming a 75% conversion efficiency, a laptop needs almost 100 gm of methanol for an 8 hour flight.

    Something tells me that airlines and security people won't like the idea of people carrying 4 ounce cartridges of flammable pure methyl alcohol onboard flights. Even in a "secure" cartridge form factor, the liquid would seem to pose a hazard if a terrorist learns how to open the cartridge and set fire to the liquid.
    • by iantri (687643) <iantri@gmx. n e t> on Friday December 12, 2003 @02:00PM (#7702960) Homepage
      Forks are also a very serious security risk. A terrorist could say, jam his fork from his meal into a passing flight attendent or worse, the captain.

      Therefore, we should ban forks from planes.

      Let's be realistic -- there's only so much you can do.

      • The magnitude of risk doesn't seem to be the criteria being used these days, however. They're confiscating nail clippers for pete's sake. Can we really expect that they'll allow cannisters of a combustible fluid on board?
        • Yes yes we can because the choices are in now way shape or form based on risk. They are based on what the airlines can do to look good while not putting out the people off of whom they make a large chunk of their bank. (business types) That is why they still allow laptops on. Think about it a laptop as a bludgeon is a a *far* greater risk than anything that is banned now that was not banned before 2001. So yes they will allow this through for a couple of reasons. One there is not enough of it to do any dama
      • Therefore, we should ban forks from planes.

        I know you were joking, but they did. About 9 months ago, I was stopped by security when doing the pre-boarding check and given the third degree. It turns out that I had a fork in my backpack that I kept just in case and had forgotten about. They actually made me throw it away before I could get on the plane, and double checked everything I had to make sure I wasn't carrying anything else I could hijack the plane with. (Yeah, because there's no way you could
      • Therefore, we should ban forks from planes

        Shows how long since you last flew; utensils ARE already banned.
    • by ivan256 (17499) * on Friday December 12, 2003 @02:07PM (#7703077)
      It's clear from all the mindless paranoia that we should just ban airlines.

      Or we could all start thinking rationally.... Which one of those is more likely?
    • What the hell kind of laptop are you running that consumes 50W!?

      I've a 47WHr battery and my laptop can last me 3 hours on a plane, easy; or roughly 16W is consumed by my laptop...
      • What the hell kind of laptop are you running that consumes 50W!?

        I agree that most current laptops don't consume 50W (your figure of 16 W is more representative). But it seems that laptop power consumption is on the rise, especially with the advent of "desktop replacement machines". It also seems that one rationale for fuel cells would be to provide larger power budgets for smaller devices (to support 64-bit processors, larger displays, and watt-guzzling graphics chips for gaming). Thus, the 50W is an
    • Something tells me that airlines and security people won't like the idea of people carrying 4 ounce cartridges of flammable pure methyl alcohol onboard flights. Even in a "secure" cartridge form factor, the liquid would seem to pose a hazard if a terrorist learns how to open the cartridge and set fire to the liquid.

      I bet you read the 300 word article and just missed these 30 words:

      The water produced by the electricity-generating chemical reaction is used to dilute the fuel down to the right concentra
      • I bet you read the 300 word article and just missed these 30 words:

        "The water produced by the electricity-generating chemical reaction is used to dilute the fuel down to the right concentration, 3-6 per cent, needed for the reaction to take place."


        Yes I did miss those 30 words, mea culpa, I should have RTFA more closely.

        Yet dilution creates other problems. One of the articles suggests a 20% MeOH concentration. This suggests that with a 50 W device and a75% efficient fuel cell, the poor traveller
    • Something tells me that airlines and security people won't like the idea of people carrying 4 ounce cartridges of flammable pure methyl alcohol onboard flights.

      As opposed to bringing any flammable liquid onboard in a soda bottle? People should already realize that the "extra security" in airports an other public places is an absurd waste of travelers' and taxpayers' time and money. It is possible to kill another person with a simple towel after a few weeks training. Glass from picture frames or many other
  • Cool, but... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Mean_Nishka (543399) on Friday December 12, 2003 @01:59PM (#7702951) Homepage Journal
    While this sounds cool I wonder how practical this will really be.. When I need PDA juice I just pop the thing in the wall and I'm charged. I don't think people will like having to buy methanol cartridges for $5 a shot in order to keep the thing running. To me it's more economical to operate it off the battery and pay the few cents it takes to charge it.
    • When I need PDA juice I just pop the thing in the wall and I'm charged.

      Whoah. You're running CE, aren't you?

      I mean, it's a great use for them, but doesn't that get expensive?

  • CH3OH (Score:5, Funny)

    by whovian (107062) on Friday December 12, 2003 @02:00PM (#7702966)
    (glugg, glugg) Help! I can't see my PDA!
  • This is a fine FYI general info PR type article, but it holds little substance. Real power examples would be helpful. 6-8 hour of PDA battery time really does not mean very much without more detailed battery output or PDA power requirement specs. A black and white palm zaire (sp?) takes much less power than a PocketPC device with a good sized color screen and Wi-Fi. Not to mention does it mean constant use, or average (1.5-2hr) use with 6hr standby?

    Interesting none the less, but there wasn't much meat
  • The details (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dassdraugen (729917)
    Duno if it's in the article, but so far Hitachi have manage to produce a prototype with 20% methanol concentration. The proto can run a PDA for about 6-8 hours. They are planning to increase the methanol concentration however, something which should increase the power. The problem now however is what to do with the waste product of the batery, namly water. Not to cool having a leaking PDA in your pocket ;)
    • Re:The details (Score:2, Interesting)

      by manganese4 (726568)
      I think you would only get two water molecules for each methanol consummed. (need to work out the wreaction) Given the similar densities and the original 20% methanol concentration. You will only be looking at a 20 to 30% volume increase. If it is 4 to 1 ratio you would definitely begin to have storage issues. A bigger issue would be to ensure the CO2 gas exit is not plugged. Hot electronicss + pressure + flamable material = new PDA
    • he problem now however is what to do with the waste product of the batery, namely water.

      Uh... drink it?

  • Rechargeable? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by peterdaly (123554) <petedaly@ix. n e t c o m.com> on Friday December 12, 2003 @02:04PM (#7703027)
    Can someone who knows more about this than me enlighten us on whether these things are rechargeable?

    I have a hard time seeing these things catch on if they are one time use.

    -Pete
    • Re:Rechargeable? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You refill them with liquid fuel. Fuel cells covert chemical (usually liquid) into electricity
  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Friday December 12, 2003 @02:08PM (#7703085) Homepage Journal
    When using your methanol based fuel cell system at the campgrounds, always practice safety. Surround your methanol based fuel cell system with rocks to keep the fire from spreading. Be sure when you're done with your fuel cell to put it out with a bucket of water and make sure it has stopped smoking before you leave the area.

    Remember what Smokey the Bear says. Only you can prevent your methanol based fuel cell system from starting a forest fire.

  • Hurry up damnitall! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GoRK (10018) <johnl&blurbco,com> on Friday December 12, 2003 @02:11PM (#7703128) Homepage Journal
    We've been waiting for this since you first told us about it 6 years ago, folks. Hurry up and DO it already. It seems every time there is some article on this it's just to fuel some hype for a new round of investment or something. It's always been 'Next Year!!!" or something like that, but never "Look. Here is a cell phone running on a fuel cell. It cost us $100,000 to build this one, but we're ramping up for mass production and should be ready to start the robots up in 12 months." They always have some vague concept artwork and a giagantic prototype and this 'please give us money' verbiage.

    As for the airplane problem, first, I don't think there will be any regulation or rules on this until it actually becomes a problem. I mean, they still let you carry a cigarette lighter and a bottle of booze onto a plane and that is no worse. The first second someone sets fire to the inside of a cabin, though, how long do you think before no liquor or fire-making devices are allowed as carry on's?

    Now, follow this idea here -- If fuel cells actually exist and are cheap and great AND they have been around long enough and are ubiquitous enough that the airlines have a problem with them it would be highly likely that EVERYONE is walking around with one or more of these things in all manner of electronic gadget they posess. It's also likely that the gadgets have grown increasingly more demanding power wise after the dependence on batteries is freed. Thus, using batteries is really kind of a non option. In order to keep business, airlines would have to do something such as provide reliable and universal alternative power supplies on the airliners or lose business. It's not a problem I'm worrying about. I don't see why people feel the need to keep bringing it up. It's not like we'll even be flying around in planes anymore once these things come to market in about 200 years.
  • Light on details, but cool photo in the Reg article!

    It'd be a cooler photo if the dude spent an extra 15 minutes in 3DS Max. That is approximately the least realistic product pre-viz I've ever seen. I don't hold it against the Reg, because it probably never occured to them that someone would begin to think that it was supposed to be a photo.

    Scuze me.
  • as per usual (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@@@gmail...com> on Friday December 12, 2003 @02:20PM (#7703232) Homepage
    "...last 6 to 8 hours...".

    Then what? Do I buy more cells? Can I plug them into the wall and recharge them?

    At least with my AA's and my Laptop I can just charge them when they die. I've used my AA's [GP1600s] since May 2001 quite a bit and they're still going strong [I'd say they count as environmentally friendly considering if you estimate I would have gone through 4AAs a week for two years that's 416AA batteries or roughly 27lbs of waste].

    Anyways make a "fuel cell" I can top off with tap water or by plugging into my wall and then maybe I'll consider it [a 1.5v/3Ah AA battery would be nice :-)].

    Tom
    • Re:as per usual (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DaveOf9thKey (599178)

      I'd say they count as environmentally friendly considering if you estimate I would have gone through 4AAs a week for two years that's 416AA batteries or roughly 27lbs of waste.

      As opposed to the 27 lbs. of carbon dioxide created from the coal-burning power plants that provided the energy to your house required to recharge those batteries.

      Six of one, half-dozen of the other.

      Of course, that's just a rough estimate and doesn't take into account whether you've got one of those funky solar-powered rechargi [backcountr...ipment.com]

  • My only grief... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SharpFang (651121) on Friday December 12, 2003 @02:28PM (#7703339) Homepage Journal
    ...Why won't they make this with ethanol.
    Don't you think it would be cool to take a sip from your PDA on cold days?
  • .....use a device they must inconvienently buy refil cartridges for instead of easily plugging it into the wall to recharge?

    Or is the industry just ignoring that little question and is proceeding full steam ahead so the manufacturers can make a lot of money before people wake the fuck up?
  • by tangent3 (449222) on Friday December 12, 2003 @02:32PM (#7703390)
    Are you sure it's safe to have fuel cells available to the public? Have you seen what the fuel cells powering the T101 in Terminator 3 can do when not properly disposed of?
  • All I can think of is a PDA docking station with a 1 gallon can of methanol attached.

    Imagine that bugger sitting on your desk. So much for small and compact.

    -Pete
  • by mykepredko (40154) on Friday December 12, 2003 @02:47PM (#7703571) Homepage
    The companies that sell the ink-cartridge refilling kits?

    Somehow I don't believe that these fuel-cells will be designed to be customer refillable. Following HP, Lexmark and other printer manufacturers, I would expect the fuel-cells to be designed for just one use (return to place of purchase and buy a factory new one).

    Along with this, I'm sure there will be warnings/campaigns stating that home refilling solutions will be dangerous, ruin the fuel cell because of improper chemical ingrediants, have significantly less operating time, void your laptop/PDA's warranty or cause you to grow hair on the palms of your hands.

    Most of the posts I've seen in this thread make the assumption that the cells can be refilled by the user. I would be very surprised if this was the case.

    myke
    • Exactly my thought. I can just see it now, Methonol at only $1600/gallon ($5 per 2oz refill @ 20%). Use anything else and we'll find a way to void your warranty.

      Luckily we'll have ebay, and it'll you'll be able to buy 10 refills for $.99. Of course, it'll cost you $20 in shipping and handling for the 1.5lb package.

  • ... and Japanese cigarette lighter maker Tokai will ship a direct methanol fuel cell
    A lighter manufaturer? Oh no. I can see it now... fuel cells shaped like little hammers, footballs, wrenches, and whatnot all available at the counter of your local convenience store!
  • by fiannaFailMan (702447) on Friday December 12, 2003 @03:01PM (#7703748) Journal
    Hollywood movies in which laptop computers crash off a cliff and explode into flames.
  • 20% methanol solution is NOT FLAMMABLE.
    It's like a stronger wine or quite weak liquor. It just won't burn!
  • The Real Problem is not the technology... But the availability of refilling the fuel cell much like a cigarette lighter and being easily able to find the fuel in stores everywhere.

    If the fuel cell depletes after 6-8 hours and you can't find fuel cells or fuel then it's not gonna sell at all!

    If the fuel cells cost more then a few cents then they won't sell either. I for one will not buy fuel cells for over $1 that only last 6-8 hours! Also there would need to be a recycling program for spent cells.

    Othe
  • It is ridiculous that these high energy density, no memory effect, zero recharge time and very long self-discharge time devices are only being targetted to provide 6-8 hours of PDA run time. An Apple Newton can run on the order of a week with present 2000mAh NiMH batteries as an example.

    As much as progress may benefit from free markets, this is an area where it is being confined to increments just slightly better than currently available products in order to derive maximum profit. This is a revolution tha

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