Fuel cells are one of the items that will change the face of the electronics industry forever once they finally start making their way into electronic devices. Sony unveiled its own ultra-small hybrid fuel cell system that is small enough to fit in one hand.
The fuel cell system measures 50mm x 30mm and combines a fuel cell, Li-polymer secondary battery and a control circuit. According to TechOn this is the first time Sony has shown off a complete fuel cell system that has a control circuit and secondary battery.
Sony says that it expects to commercialize the fuel cell and an engineer from the Sony material Laboratory said, “We have been aiming to mount (a fuel-cell system) in mobile devices and finally reached a level of commercial design.” The fuel cell runs on methanol.
Methanol also powers the Mobion fuel cell that DailyTech covered last week that was integrated into a GPS prototype. However, the Mobion fuel cell is passive and the Sony fuel cell is active with a pump to move the methanol. Sony’s didn’t comment specifically on its fuel cell power output, but does say output can be as high as 3W.
According to Sony, 3W is enough power for a mobile device. The fuel cell is said to be able to run 14 hours in a mobile phone on 10mL of methanol. It’s not entirely clear if the fuel cell will power electronic devices directly or if it will charge the internal Li-ion battery, which will in turn power the electronic device the fuel cell is integrated into. The battery could also be used as a type of backup power system.
quote: I'm a total n00b when it comes to chemistry, so I looked up methanol on Wikipedia. I'm not so sure I'd want to power my kids hand-held games with this stuff: