by Mike Masnick

Battery Company Betting On Fuel Cells

from the well,-of-course... dept

Gillette, makers of batteries (among other things), has decided that this fuel cell thing might really have some potential and have invested in a fuel cell company. While I agree that there's a lot of potential for fuel cells, I still get confused when people say that they'll replace rechargeable batteries. In the article, they quote someone from the fuel cell company saying: "Another advantage is that the fuel would come in replaceable cartridges. The user simply snaps in a new one rather than having to wait for a recharge." A huge part of the reason people like rechargeable batteries instead of disposable batteries is that they don't always need to buy new batteries and have them handy for when the old batteries die. While fuel cells may last longer, they bring back that issue of having to always buy more "cells" (which most consumers will simply consider to be "long life batteries" anyway) and have them around. While longer life power is nice, battery companies shouldn't ignore the very reason people like rechargeables.

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  1. identicon
    Mark Murphy, 23 Sep 2003 @ 1:16pm

    Cartridge vs. battery size

    I had read that, for a laptop-sized device, the fuel cartridge would be perhaps the size of a ballpoint pen refill. In that case, carrying spare cartridges is much easier and less expensive than carrying replacement rechargeable batteries for long airplane flights. Depending on the duration of the trip and the cost/hour of using the cartridges, you might also skip schlepping the AC adapter/battery charger.
    In a way, it's kinda like the arguments between battery-powered cars and fueled cars, just with the status quo being inverted. Battery-powered cars are fine so long as you aren't going very far and are in position to get recharged when needed -- fueled cars are more flexible in this regard.
    What would be slick, if space permits, is to give the laptop both a short-life battery and the fuel cell. That way, if you unplug and wander around the office for a meeting, you are using the battery, but the fuel cell is available for extended periods away from AC power.

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