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Image courtesy Samsung
Look mom, no wires!

Fuel cell-based notebooks are nothing new to frequent readers of DailyTech. In early June, we reported on Toshiba's early efforts with a fuel cell notebook dock that was able to power a Portege notebook for 10 hours. In October, the company showed off an updated version of its fuel cell dock -- this time with a smaller fuel cell stack that was confined within the footprint of the host notebook.

Samsung is taking fuel cell technology for notebooks to the next level by showcasing a new DMFC (Direct Methanol Fuel Cell) dock that can power a Q35 ultraportable notebook for 8 hours a day for a full month. According to Samsung press release, the fuel cell has an energy density of 650Wh/L and total energy storage of 1,200Wh.

Samsung has also made many improvements to its fuel cell system that reduces noise levels. The new systems has noise levels comparable to current notebook computers which gives Samsung an edge over competing fuel cell designs.

Fuel cell technology has come a long way during the past year. Just last month SAIT and Samsung SDI showed off a prototype fuel cell battery charger that weighs just 5.3 ounces. Likewise, Nokia envisions that fuel cell-powered mobile phones are just a few years away.

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By therealnickdanger on 12/28/2006 12:15:20 PM , Rating: 2
One month of use is impressive, you'll get no argument from me, but why not just sacrifice a week or two of power and make something a lot more portable? I'd imagine this thing is rather heavy. What about refueling? Price?

RE: OK...
By Chapbass on 12/28/2006 12:53:53 PM , Rating: 2
im hoping that they just made it that size so they could get the "one month" timeline in there, and could easily make it smaller to power it for say, a few days.

id love to have one that is mega light and could power my lappy for 3-4 days.

or maybe interchangable capacities? now that would be slick.

RE: OK...
By Netopia on 12/28/2006 7:18:19 PM , Rating: 3
The problem here is that you need a stack of fuel cells to create enough electricity to power the laptop. The bulk of this thing is probably fuel cell stacks and not fuel. The month of fuel is probably what they considered a reasonable size/weigh/time ratio , given the unavoidable initial size and weight of the item without fuel.

The time is (or at least should be) coming when fuel cells are the power sources for nearly everything portable. If global warming and its delirious effects don't kill off, we may see a day of pebble bed nuke reactors/hydrogen/fuel cell based economy.


RE: OK...
By Choppedliver on 12/28/2006 1:23:38 PM , Rating: 2
I don't get it. I buy a docking station to leave on my desk, therefore I don't need a battery because I can plug it in ( I'm assuming most people have power in their house, silly me )

I buy a laptop to take with me wherever I'm going. This is no different than buying a huge battery and lugging that around. What's the point? Am I going to be sitting on a plane or in a meeting with my laptop in my docking station? WTF? Someone help me out here, I am really not getting this

RE: OK...
By masher2 on 12/28/2006 1:30:54 PM , Rating: 3
> "This is no different than buying a huge battery and lugging that around. "

Your large battery will power you for a few hours. This would let you take your laptop on a weeklong business trip, leave behind the power brick, and never worry about swapping batteries. If you're doing a lot of flying or travelling in car/taxi, you just don't have time to stop and recharge.

And this docking station may be large, but its certainly smaller and more convenient than the charging brick and a couple extra-high capacity batteries.

Still, I imagine that the production version of this will be even smaller, and tuned to provide several days runtime, rather than a full month.

RE: OK...
By ninjit on 12/28/2006 5:51:58 PM , Rating: 2
Good luck getting a methanol-based fuel-cell onto an airplane next time you fly - gives a whole new meaning to exploding notebooks we've all already heard about.

I don't see how fuel cells will replace batteries any time soon, it just doesn't seem that practical.

Mostly I can see this having a lot use in the field, military laptops, scientists in Antarctica etc. Having a fuel cell power your equipment vs. lugging around a big generator (even small ones are a pain) would be a huge boon in those kinda situations.

RE: OK...
By masher2 on 12/28/2006 11:47:43 PM , Rating: 1
Next time I fly? No...but they'll eventually be certified safe for airflight. After all, you can already possess ethanol on a flight, so why not methanol?

RE: OK...
By TTowntom2 on 1/4/2007 2:40:31 PM , Rating: 2
sure you can take the fuel cell, but what about the methanol tanks?

RE: OK...
By Hawkido on 12/28/2006 1:52:41 PM , Rating: 5
You point is valid for your lifestyle. Too bad the world isn't full of carbon copies of yourself. Then we all could just sit in our air conditioned offices/homes and use our laptops.

However let's look at the other 6 billion people in the world. OLPC for instance... this would be lots better than pulling a cord. How about the military personel running black ops in the field for weeks at a time? What about the construction contractor surveying at new site with no facilities for recharging. Hey all of these are great examples of people not like you. People like this need this technology. Don't think that every product needs to be applicable to 100% of the market, else I will ask you to demonstrate on yourself the proper use of a tampon on the male anatomy. That product only has less than 35% target market.

If it was the label "docking station" that is causing you difficulties, concider this: It is merely called a docking station moreso because of it's looks and the way it attaches to the computer, rather than because of the features it adds to the laptop.

RE: OK...
By TommyBoyz8 on 12/28/2006 4:08:50 PM , Rating: 3
Funny you should mention a Tampon has only 35% (aprox) target market. But are you saying that all of that 35% is women during a menstrual cycle? Don't forget that the military can use tampons. Our president has made war and those excessive gunshot wounds don't cover themselves up. A Tampon can be used to suck up excess bloos loss while expanding to close the gap from more bleeding. There are other uses as well. But thought is funny to bring that up.

RE: OK...
By Lazarus Dark on 12/28/2006 5:48:55 PM , Rating: 2

RE: OK...
By TTowntom2 on 1/4/2007 2:40:54 PM , Rating: 2
I coulda done without that post.

RE: OK...
By rykerabel on 1/8/2007 3:11:45 PM , Rating: 2
um, what is gross about a moisture absorbing lifesaving bundle of fiber that just happens to have a "more common" use?

Life: 1
silly pretensions: 0

RE: OK...
By MonkeyPaw on 12/28/2006 7:18:18 PM , Rating: 2
I'd imagine it would have very good applications for mobile work crews. GIS/GPS teams, researchers/grad students in exotic locales, disaster relief crews, etc. could all stand to have a quick way to set up and get organized. Oh, and don't forget the military. There are still places on earth that lack electricity, and such a fuel cell would be a welcome product to people who have to work in such places. The average notebook user doesn't need this, but there are definitely others that do!

Wow this is cool
By nurbsenvi on 12/28/2006 12:27:53 PM , Rating: 2
So when you recharge this thing you just need to pour in some ethanol and that's it?
that is awesome!!

RE: Wow this is cool
By Shark Tek on 12/28/2006 12:40:22 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe by farting inside a special can or using something similar to what appears on Back to the Future movie. Fruit left overs, etc

RE: Wow this is cool
By therealnickdanger on 12/28/2006 3:06:14 PM , Rating: 2
Mr. Fusion. LMAO

RE: Wow this is cool
By TTowntom2 on 1/4/2007 2:41:23 PM , Rating: 2
Don't hold your breath waiting for it.

RE: Wow this is cool
By bokep on 12/28/2006 1:01:00 PM , Rating: 1
lol something like that

RE: Wow this is cool
By sadffffff on 12/28/2006 3:20:39 PM , Rating: 2
fuel cells are utter rubbish. theyre neat and all, but theyre certainly not viable to widespread use, nor are they any kind of solution to a power problem

RE: Wow this is cool
By devolutionist on 12/28/2006 8:36:07 PM , Rating: 2
Kind of like phones, TVs, cars, and aircraft were utter rubbish when they were being developed.

That's a seriously shortsighted comment and I really hope you were being facetious.

RE: Wow this is cool
By Ringold on 12/29/2006 3:45:24 AM , Rating: 2
I have a feeling they wont be intended for widespread use. Does a typical undergrad, or most grad students, need a month of power? No, not when he/she has to go and BUY methanol to pour in that thing when they can go mooch power all around campus. Like others have said though, a month, or even a few days, of power would be huge to some groups of people.

They'll make fuel cells and their target markets will prosper; people that need it will be more productive, and everyone involved makes more money.

The rest of us will think "gee whiz, thats cool stuff, a month of power!" while we continue happily, too, in our own lives with future generations of battery power.

I dont see how that makes them rubbish. They dont have to be viable for widespread use, just use in the target markets, and they *are* a solution to the power problem which faces their target markets: if power was available from a 110v AC socket every 3ft across America, then nobody would need batteries, much less a high-capacity system like this.

RE: Wow this is cool
By nurbsenvi on 12/29/2006 9:24:53 AM , Rating: 2
Of course you would need months of power...

Think about it, a total freedome from the wires
everything is wireless these days so if your laptop can be charged from pouring in some liquid once a month, that laptop is wire free forever.

I just hope methanol is as cheap as patrol so I won't need to pay anymore than $4 bucks a month for powering my laptop.

if this trend continues far enough some day we will all be free from all wires and will be pouring methanol everyware

like your home theater wirelss speakers that only need refuelling every 6 month or your complete wireless OLED monitor!

you could even have a modular computer system that has all it's components seperated, wirelessly connected and spread all over the place!!

with samsung it's not hard to imagine.

What about...
By nortexoid on 12/28/2006 3:57:47 PM , Rating: 2
Why haven't they started making these for wristwatches? I would be quite satisfied if I didn't have to change this blasted watch battery every 784 years.

RE: What about...
By exdeath on 12/28/2006 5:50:49 PM , Rating: 2
I have a Citizen watch with their 'Eco-drive' where the backing of the dial face is basically a solar cell. It's been running for 5 years never skipped a tick. Seiko also has their kinetic energy drive which is basically like those shake lights, keeps charging as you move around all day.

really really low power laptop?
By Lord Evermore on 12/29/2006 8:52:34 AM , Rating: 2
I've been trying to figure this out all week. The "full month" claim requires that the thing average 5W of power draw. Just having the LCD on at lowest brightness is going to use more than that, as well as an idle CPU. Even having everything set to maximum power saving mode, if the 8 hours a day is of actual use, not sitting there looking at it, you can't do 5W. MAYBE if it was entirely idle and the system was allowed to shut off the hard drive and network/wireless and use the CPU HALT function and blank the LCD.

One example: (site's down at the moment but Google cached it). Minimum was 16W for a P-M 2GHz.

By Lord Evermore on 12/29/2006 8:54:19 AM , Rating: 2
Maybe they're being a little less than honest and "8 hours a day" means 8 hours per weekday. Then they could get 7.5W out of it. That's still unlikely to actually be enough.

A full month
By InternetGeek on 12/28/2006 2:15:04 PM , Rating: 2
I'm totally getting one if they can improve it to provide power for a full month (24/7) and not just 8 hours per day. Any regular IT worker knows by instinct that 8hours a day is just not enough.

In my case I have a gaming laptop which I also use as workstation (Web Design/Development). Since I don't travel a lot I don't mind the battery lasting just one hour. Though I would love to be able to work in any place at home without having to plug in.

By bbomb on 12/28/2006 7:50:18 PM , Rating: 2
Are fuel cell botebooks even for sale? Im getting tired of one report after another about them when I doubt we will ever see one in any store. I know I havent seen one anywhere. This is some technology that will never ssee that light of day anytime soon so stop putting out one bragging press release after another.

logging in?
By Lord Evermore on 12/29/2006 8:59:52 AM , Rating: 2
WTF? You need a login to Samsung's site to even view a press release? (which I suppose would be in Korean anyway).

By shaw on 12/29/2006 10:51:45 AM , Rating: 2
If this was out on the market I'd buy it right now. That's more than a comfortable size to me for a month of power! I get annoyed with my Notebook's current 3 hour battery life as is.

Put it on the market already
By Rob94hawk on 12/30/2006 3:42:08 AM , Rating: 2
Sounds like more vaporware to me but if it is released to the public then over time they will get smaller and more efficient as time goes on just like everything else.

Well except for cars anyway. They still suck at efficiency.

"We shipped it on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we rested." -- Steve Jobs on the iPad launch

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