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Samsung DMFC circa 2006  (Source: Samsung)

Samsung DMFC circa 2007  (Source: AVING USA)
Samsung's slimmer fuel cell design can power a notebook for up to a month

Toshiba and Samsung have been working on ways to rid customers of traditional lithium-ion batteries used in notebook computers. Both companies are looking towards fuel cells and the technology is very promising.

Samsung displayed a version of its Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC) in late December that was capable of powering a Q35 ultra-portable notebook eight hours a day for a month. The fuel cell, which contained an energy density of 650Wh/L and total energy storage of 1,200Wh, was contained in a rather large box that was nearly as wide as the notebook and roughly twice as tall.

Samsung has made great strides to perfect its DMFC and recently showcased an even smaller design at its company showroom. Samsung appears to have shaved a few inches off the device in length/width/height. The DMFC now looks to be roughly the size of a couple of extended batteries stacked side by side.

Samsung reports that the fuel cell is still capable of operating a notebook for up to a month.

Despite the advances being made in fuel cell technology, we are still a few years away from fuel cells being commercially viable.

"Though we still need to solve ‘going smaller and sturdier’ issues, I think that we have made a technical quantum leap in commercialization," said SAIT VP Dr. Hyuk Change in November. "Within 2~3 years, the fuel cells including those for laptops currently in development with Samsung SDI will be widely used as it is forecasted to acquire a stable market with lower price lines."



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Questions?
By techfuzz on 8/13/2007 8:57:39 AM , Rating: 3
Anyone know what the purported efficiency of these fuel cells that Samsung has been developing? Also, what is the likely cost? I read a long time ago that these cells would likely cost $1000 each. If that's still true, they've got a long way to go before there is a large enough market to buy them.




RE: Questions?
By nurbsenvi on 8/13/2007 9:26:43 AM , Rating: 2
It may cost $1000 to buy but unlike lithium batteries you can use this almost forever you just need to refill it with methanol...

Think about it 2 liters of ethanol will buy you 1 month of laptop mobility ONE MONTH! not week!

1200Wh is equivalent to having your average hairdryer on for an hour or is enough to run electric lawn mower for 2 hours and a bit...
and no recharging time.

I guess it will be a good idea to invest in Brazil and anything that is related to methanol production... you might be able to triple your wealth.


RE: Questions?
By littleprince on 8/13/2007 9:45:42 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah... Because I wanna lug around 2 kg of Ethanol all day + the components necessary for the cell.

Even if it was small, and i only need a few ml, i'd have to refill everday!


RE: Questions?
By MonkeyPaw on 8/13/2007 10:08:10 AM , Rating: 5
Would you prefer to lug around a big generator as well? A methanol fuel cell isn't for the power business user that only needs a few hours between plug-ins (like you could get something as flamable as methanol on an airplane anyway). No, such a product would be quite valuable if you need a computer where there is no power. Imagine doing research in a remote area, or working in disaster relief where utilities are down (or non-existent). In such situations, a few kg of Methanol would be considered a reasonable burden and necessary for the task at hand.

It would be nice to just plug your laptop into the sand and get power, but believe it or not, not everywhere has readily available electricity, so sacrifices are necessary.


RE: Questions?
By NEOCortex on 8/13/2007 3:19:32 PM , Rating: 2
I seem to remember that the FAA or some other government body putting methanol on the "list" of acceptable chemicals allowed on board a plane for just theses purposes (i.e. DMFCs). The push behind commercializing these kinds of fuel cells is quite strong actually.


RE: Questions?
By Spivonious on 8/13/2007 1:00:07 PM , Rating: 2
Why would I ever need a laptop to run off of battery power for a month?? The most I've ever needed is a few hours.


RE: Questions?
By svenkesd on 8/13/2007 1:25:41 PM , Rating: 2
That statement seems kind of short-sighted. Why wouldn't you want a laptop to run off of battery power for a month. It's more convenient and maybe necessary to have a longer battery life for many people.


RE: Questions?
By Spivonious on 8/13/2007 2:30:50 PM , Rating: 2
Unless this fuel-cell battery is at the same or a lower price than the current Li-ion I really don't see the point of extended battery life. If I'm home, I plug it in; If I'm on vacation, I plug it in when I get to the hotel. When do I need more than 8-12 hours of battery life, let alone a month? Not having to plug it in would be fun, but it's kind of pointless when there's so much access to electricity around us.

Only if I was a researcher out in the field in the middle of a desert would I need a month battery power, and even then I'd probably have a generator along anyway.


RE: Questions?
By hadifa on 8/14/2007 1:19:48 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
If I'm home, I plug it in; If I'm on vacation, I plug it in when I get to the hotel.


The whole point is that you don't need to plug it in. If current laptop's batteries were lasting for a month then you could go to a trip for 3 weeks and not need to plug it in. You wouldn't need to take the adapter and the cable wherever you go.

What if cars could only move for 20-25K before refuel. It would still work because petrol stations are everywhere but it is much nicer to drive for 400K before refuel.

You are right to think we could get away with few hours of battery most of the time but then you can send your "email" by post!


RE: Questions?
By Oregonian2 on 8/13/2007 2:03:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It may cost $1000 to buy but unlike lithium batteries you can use this almost forever you just need to refill it with methanol...


I think one may be able to get a lifetime's supply of LiOH batteries for a grand, at least if one buys discount, and no ethanol required.

Only thing that bothers me is that it seems the battery may be bigger than the laptop. Maybe a little smaller might be good.


RE: Questions?
By Visual on 8/13/2007 9:31:16 AM , Rating: 2
honestly, i can see them selling quite well even at $1000, if they manage to make them small enough, easy and cheap to charge and indeed last you a month (or even a week) on a charge. i'd pay $1000 price premium for a laptop with that much battery life.

and i wonder why they aren't selling the bulkier variants as stand-alone UPS systems or something - keeping up a computer for a week, or seven computers for a day with a single charge seems quite an accomplishment, and its probably quite more efficient than diesel generators or other kinds of power backups.

the important question here is how much a recharge would cost and how easy will it be.


RE: Questions?
By AnnihilatorX on 8/13/2007 1:43:31 PM , Rating: 2
Last time I checked my notebook manufacturer is charging me $600 for a lithium battery replacement which will likely to last 1 year before degenerating again


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