Fuel Cell Hype Is Back

from the this-again? dept

For years, we’ve been hearing all about how wonderful fuel cells were going to be and how they would replace rechargeable batteries in things like mobile phones and laptops. This still doesn’t make total sense. The benefit of fuel cells is that they’ll last much longer than traditional rechargeable batteries. That’s a good thing. However, the replaceable nature of fuel cells is a real downside. As we’ve pointed out before, the reason so many devices have moved to rechargeable batteries is because people don’t like the idea of having to buy and tote around replacements for their devices. Being able to recharge is much more efficient. When it comes to fuel cells, though, the most likely situation will be that you’ll have to buy replaceable fuel cell “cartridges” which most people will probably refer to as batteries — since they’ll basically look and act like batteries. Some companies have realized this and backed off the fuel cell bandwagon, but it looks like the hype is back again with Toshiba talking up a fuel cell-powered MP3 player and a research firm claiming the fuel cell market is about to take off. Yes, there’s a place for fuel cells, but just because they last longer, it’s not clear that everyone will rush out and buy them. Having rechargeables is just much easier to deal with than always having to make sure you have a fresh pack of new batteries fuel cells.

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Comments on “Fuel Cell Hype Is Back”

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Mike R. says:

No Subject Given

There’s no need for them to really be throw-away; if they had hydrogen in them, the resulting water could be stored. Hook it up to AC power, and let a reversible fuel cell split the water back in to oxygen and hydrogen. Maybe every once in a while, top it off with water.

Throw-away fuel cells is just a capitalist load of crap.

David says:

Re: Re: AC

All cell phone batteries are charged with DC too. You must use a rectifier/power supply to charge any battery from the wall. Thus a similar charger would be used for the fuel cells if that were how they were intended to be used. The conversion of methanol to hydrogen for fuel cell use can (for now anyway) can be simplified into a much smaller cartridge than a two-way fuel-cell/electrolyzer system. As for refilling, they could operate much like butane cans are used to refill butane lighters, but under much higher pressure (safety would be a concern, and a good mechanism would need to be devised). Remember though that a single cartridge would run your phone for a month, so on trips you wouldn?t need to haul your can around, maybe just another spare cartridge for a very long trip.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Just looking at the pic :rolleyes:

If you look at the picture the person is refueling the “battery” with methanol. That means… “battery” doesn’t get thrown away.

That’s unlikely to be the way the final product is “refueled” as the article suggests. It’s a bit too dangerous for the average user.

At the same time, that could be even worse, because you’d always have to carry around bottles of methanol…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Airports

Yup. http://www.corporatetravelsafety.com/Hazard%20materials.html

Airplanes don’t allow pocket cigarette lighters, so it’s unlikely that they’ll allow methanol refills. 3.5mL of methanol might not sound like much, but that small amount could be used to catch other materials on fire more easily — which isn’t good on aircraft.

Niu (user link) says:

eng lish

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