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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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