Toshiba May Bid Laptop Batteries Goodbye

from the yes,-but... dept

There has been a ton of hype in the last couple of years about how fuel cells will eventually replace lithium ion rechargeable batteries. Now,

Toshiba says they’ve developed a working prototype, that they think can be offered commercially sometime next year. Since I own a Toshiba laptop that has, without a doubt, the worst battery life of any laptop I have ever seen, the idea of a long lasting fuel cell is certainly appealing. However, I imagine it will take a few generations before the quirks are worked out. However, more importantly, I’m not sure consumers will rush to fuel cells. Certainly, they do last much longer than standard batteries, but people like rechargeable batteries – since they don’t need to carry replacement parts around with them. The fuel cells require replacement methanol cartridges, which most consumers will think of as “batteries” that they need to constantly buy and replace. From the perspective of an end-user, the question now becomes if I’m willing to have to keep buying “fuel” (literally) to keep my laptop running.

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Comments on “Toshiba May Bid Laptop Batteries Goodbye”

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todd says:

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one more thing: these methanol cells prototypes produce 12 to 20 watts. That’s not enough power to handle most laptops made in the past 5 years.

Check your laptop’s power adapter: chances are your laptop takes 50 watts or more (granted, that is often “peak” which includes powering computer AND charging a battery).

A “top of the line” Dell takes 90W, and even the Dell “Ultra low power” Latitude X200 requires 27W, so Toshiba has some work to do.

Now, the good news is that power output for fuel cells is often just a (linear) function of the surface area of the electron transfer membrane, so if they make these bigger, they *may* work.

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