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NEC Develops Improved Fuel Cell System for Notebook PCs
Sep 17, 2003
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NEC Corp. said it has developed an improved methanol-use micro fuel cell system to run notebook personal computers. The newly developed system reportedly has 20-percent greater power-generating efficiency than that of the fuel cell system the Japanese electronics maker announced on June 30.

By refining the packaging, NEC has also reduced the size of the fuel cell module by 20 percent, the company said.

NEC will demonstrate a prototype notebook PC with the built-in fuel cell system at WPC EXPO 2003, an international PC exhibition to be held from Sept. 17 to 20 in Makuhari, near Tokyo.

Fuel cells, which don't generate pollutants, produce electricity via an electrochemical reaction that uses oxygen and hydrogen. Unlike the current lithium batteries that require time-consuming recharging, users of the PCs will be able to continually operate the machines by either replacing methanol fuel cartridges or refilling them with methanol fuel.

NEC plans to introduce by the end of 2004 its first commercial PC that uses the fuel cell system, which will likely be able to run a PC for about five consecutive hours with a single charge of methanol fuel.

The company also aims to commercialize by the end of 2005 an advanced version of the product that can keep PCs running continuously for as long as 40 hours - or 1 week of usual business hours.

This would revolutionize the usability of mobile devices because it would make their operation duration about 10-times longer than that of lithium-ion batteries, which are the current mainstream batteries for notebook PCs. (Reuters)

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