Fuel cell will be able to power notebook for five hours on 5cc of methanol

Fuel cells are one of the most intriguing battery replacement technologies around and are one of the few that is already on the market. Today the fuel cell isn't a viable option for the consumer, but in the future charging your notebook computer could be a thing of the past.

Engadget reports that Panasonic is readying the first fuel cell that will fit into the battery compartment of a notebook computer to go on sale in 2012. The fuel cell reportedly could power your average laptop for five hours on 50cc of highly concentrated methanol. When you start to run low, all you would need to do is squirt some more methanol into the cell to keep working.

The only fuel cell available for consumers right now is the Medis Power Pack. It is far from powerful enough to run the average laptop and is really only suited to charging a cell phone or MP3 player. The Pentagon recently awarded a $1 million prize to the winner of a competition to produce a wearable power system weighing under eight pounds and capable of 96 hours of run time. The winning concept used a fuel cell and a rechargeable battery.

Automakers are keen on fuel cell technology as well with several big automakers working on fuel cell-powered cars right now. Honda is one of the carmakers and has its FCX fuel cell vehicles on the streets for testing already.

The biggest issue for fuel cell cars at this point is the lack of hydrogen fuel stations needed to make the vehicles viable across the country. So far, most carmakers are limiting the vehicles to use by customers in close proximity to a hydrogen fuel station in the southern California area.

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