3 May 2007 - 08:42
  • News Code: 103759

Hydrogen fuelcell technology, usually touted as the next alternative for emission free cars, may be powering the batteries of your notebook computer in the near futureÉand for up to 20 hours at a time. The technology is available now, and could be available throughout the world as early as 2008.

Toshiba is currently testing the advanced technology, and expects to embark on a limited prototype release in the near future. Fuelcell technology is an environmentally ideal energy source, as the only emission released is harmless water vapor; but as researchers have yet to solve the necessary mass/density problems, Toshiba will be putting methane powered fuelcells into its notebooks.

Methanol is stable at room temperature, but the fuelcells will release some carbon dioxide. The upside of these methane fuelcells is that they will allow notebook users up to 20 hours of use on a single battery charge. Toshiba experts say that changing the battery will be similar to changing a print cartridge.

The methane fuelcell solution has some pundits drawing comparisons to a kerosene cooker powering your computer, and are asking whether this new technology will be welcomed aboard tight security airplanes. Experts say that the cooker analogy is really inaccurate as there is no external combustion, and the fuelcells are unlikely to present a security threat. A UN commission has agreed, and based upon their findings the FAA has given the green light for these methane fuelcells to be used on flights within the US.

One key difference between these fuelcells and today’s batteries is that your methane powered computer will produce exhaust. Toshiba experts caution people not to think of the exhaust from a car as their mental image, as these notebooks will only exhale warm moist air. They do expel some carbon dioxide, but the technology is significantly greener than anything available today. Toshiba’s Justin White elaborated, “It’s not like the exhaust fumes from a car; it’s not like the exhaust from a flame. It’s not going to be of any harm to people or any other animals“.

So how much will the new technology cost? MoreÉa lot more! While a conventional battery charge draws only pennies of electricity, new fuelcell batteries will cost several dollars a piece.

Justin acknowledges the high price, but says that there will be a high demand for the product from people working in remote locations, or from people who need a longer than average battery life-time. A confident Justin, explained that the biggest problem facing the release of the new product was having the infrastructure ready to supply consumer demand.


News Code 103759

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