Although micro fuel cells are close to being commercialized, technology research firm ABI believes that certain issues need to be resolved first before widespread use can occur. For micro fuel cells to gain wide scale use and acceptance, regulatory approvals must be granted for final product designs for early niche markets, and then the products for these early niche markets must be deliverable through a small, established distribution network. It is difficult, however, to ascertain the true status of companies‚ R&D progress in the field, according to the research firm.
"As long as technical issues such as water management, volumetric energy density, and complete packaging exist, it would be challenging for micro fuel cell companies to deliver their products in 2004," says Atakan Ozbek, ABI’s director of Energy Research.
According to public announcements, two Japanese companies, Toshiba and NEC, will introduce micro fuel cells in 2004. Japanese wireless giant DoCoMo also made statements announcing that it will roll out micro fuel cells in its 3G handsets in 2004.
"I certainly believe that it can be achieved by the end of 2004; however, we have not seen any major developments in recent months by certain bellwether companies yet," continues Mr. Ozbek. "In addition, the essential framework of codes and standards from the regulatory landscape is also largely incomplete."
ABI’s final update on the micro fuel cell market expects the first commercial micro fuel cell products in laptops and in niche markets to appear in the 2004-2005 time span, with 5,000 units. The firm expects global shipments to reach 200 million units in 2011.
to Daily News