Fuel cells are getting lots of attention for powering everything from a laptop computer to future SUVs. The trick to getting fuel cells into our portable devices is to get them small enough that they are easily portable, yet large enough that they can generate sufficient power to operate the device.
Sharp Corporation announced today that it made a breakthrough in direct methanol fuel cells (DMFC) that enabled it to achieve the world’s highest power density of 0.3W/cc. Sharp says that its new technology allows the production of fuel cells of the same volume as current lithium ion batteries but have a significantly increased runtime compared to batteries.
The Sharp DMFC makes its power in the same way as other DMFCs. Power is generated through a chemical reaction between the methanol supplied directly to the power generation components and oxygen from circulating air.
Sharp says that its new design is made up of a grid of laminated reed-shaped cells arranged at fixed, parallel intervals and reed-shaped porous spacers running perpendicular to the cells. The structure is then arranged into a stack structure via microfabrication.
The uniform and continuous spaces created by the grid allow for smooth air flow to provide the oxygen that is required to power the electricity generating reaction. The new DMFC is able to product about seven times as much power as Sharp’s previous fuel cell technology.
Sharp isn’t the only well known maker of electronics introducing new fuel cells recently. Sony unveiled its small complete fuel cell system in early May 2008. Mobion, on the other hand, is showing off a prototype GPS device powered by its fuel cell technology that promises 60 hours of continuous use.
quote: Not if it's from biomass where a lot of methanol is produced nowadays.
quote: The reaction that takes place within the DMFC produces carbon dioxide which doesn't accumulate.
quote: It is correct as written, it produces 0.3 Watts of power ("of power" is assumed when you say Watts) per cc of fuel used up in the fuel cell.
quote: The article is correct as written