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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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Methanol, not Ethanol
By Rhayader on 8/13/2007 10:36:31 AM , Rating: 2
There seems to be some confusion in this thread. First of all, the fuel being used is Methanol, not Ethanol. Methanol is a type of alcohol, and is the main ingredient in windshield washer fluid. Ethanol is a bio-fuel used similar to gasoline.

I used to work for a company which is working with Samsung on DMFC technology. The typical efficiency is about 1 Watt-hour per CC of fuel, which weighs about .87 grams. This means that a 1-liter bottle of fuel, weighing in at 870 grams, could power a 30-watt computer for about 33 continuous hours, or much longer if the machine is only being used a few hours at a time.

RE: Methanol, not Ethanol
By Frank M on 8/13/2007 11:26:48 AM , Rating: 2
Ethanol is also an alcohol, it's the kind we drink.

RE: Methanol, not Ethanol
By Rhayader on 8/13/2007 11:39:05 AM , Rating: 2
That's true, and I thought it was too obvious to point out in my post. I was just describing methanol, not trying to differentiate it from ethanol. Probably could have been clearer about it.

RE: Methanol, not Ethanol
By DesertCat on 8/13/2007 12:20:17 PM , Rating: 2
More on methanol. Methanol is a type of alcohol we don't drink. It can kill you if you do. Even if a person survives drinking a little of it, methanol can make the survivor go blind. For this reason, ethanol (the stuff we can drink) that is intended for industrial purposes and that doesn't want to be subject to the liquor tax is often spiked with some methanol. That way people can't drink it. Sometimes methanol is referred to as "wood alcohol" because it used to be made from wood. These days it's mostly made from natural gas.

If you used one of those little alcohol burners in your high school chemistry class, it was likely running on methanol.

RE: Methanol, not Ethanol
By Treckin on 8/13/2007 12:56:28 PM , Rating: 2
No, It WAS running on methane... totally different...

RE: Methanol, not Ethanol
By Rhayader on 8/13/2007 3:08:48 PM , Rating: 2
Treckin is right, those burners usually use methane, not methanol.

RE: Methanol, not Ethanol
By DesertCat on 8/13/2007 7:28:07 PM , Rating: 2
I wasn't talking about Bunsen burners that use gas. I was talking about alcohol burners. Maybe you never saw or used them? The burners I'm talking about have a glass globe filled with methanol and a wick. Definitely NOT a methane using device.

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