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Image courtesy BBC News
Toshiba works its magic on fuel cells

The mobile applications for fuel cell technology are slowly starting to come into focus for Toshiba. The company, which began fuel cell development four years ago, has demonstrated a working prototype "dock style" fuel cell which can power a Portege notebook for up to 10 hours.

Toshiba has developed a program which displays to users how much fuel is remaining in the tank. The company has also taken many precautions to ease the concerns over the methane being in such close proximity to the notebook. In addition, Toshiba has made the actual fuel cell unit durable enough to withstand abuse without leaking. "We've dropped it on its front, its back, its edges, and we've found it to be extremely strong," said Tomoaki Arimura of Toshiba's Methanol Fuel Cell Group. But while most of the reaction to the system has been positive, there have been a few downsides found in trial testing. From BBC News:

The trials also highlighted the model's rough edges. The first becomes apparent as soon as it is switched on. There are small but constant whirring noises and the persistent sounds of tiny clicks made by the pump and valves. Some people may find such noises irritating. Feedback from the trials showed that some thought the shape and size of the refills inconvenient.

Toshiba is also working on a "flat-bed" fuel cell which sits under the notebook. The company showed a pre-commercial prototype at CES. Advances have to be made in miniaturization of the fuel pump, valves and other components to make this style of fuel cell viable. The company wants to eventually shrink the components down to the point where they could actually fit within the body of the notebook.

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By eomhS on 6/1/2006 11:44:34 AM , Rating: 2
well if you took the fuel cell out and put a battery the same size as that unit, you could prolly get more then 10 hrs. of battery life anyways...

RE: odd...
By OrSin on 6/1/2006 11:55:02 AM , Rating: 2
Thats actually what I was thinking. A battery that big would be work for 10 hr plus too. And guess what people all power is fossil fuels. Yes we have few sources that are not (solar, wind, hyrdo, nuclear), but in the end 90% of all electric is from coal. I think the thing with fuel cells is that thye have not reached thier limit yeat the way batteries have. Batter technolony is a dead end for chemical induced reactions anyway. Fuels cell will be the future but that future sees to be 10-15 years out.

RE: odd...
By Missing Ghost on 6/1/2006 9:14:37 PM , Rating: 2
90% from coal? you must live in the USA. In my country we have only 2 coal powered power plants. It's more like 90% from hydro. Hydro is efficient if you have the water.

RE: odd...
By Zoolook on 6/2/2006 4:26:07 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah same here, we have about 50% hydro and 45 % nuclear powered electricity where I live.

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