Hitachi announced that it has developed a prototype personal digital assistant (PDA) powered by a fuel cell that runs about 5 hrs.
The electronics company plans to make the PDA more compact and to extend its operational hours in the hope of launching sample shipments in 2005, a Hitachi official said. At 700 grams, the prototype is more than twice as heavy as conventional PDAs, and Hitachi plans to reduce the weight to a level similar to conventional PDAs, the official said.
A fuel cell generates electricity when hydrogen from fuel such as hydrogen and methanol combines with oxygen leaving pure water as a by-product. The fuel cell used in Hitachi's prototype PDA uses methanol as a source of hydrogen.
While fuel cells are said to be a pollution-free and highly efficient power source, its greater cost compared to traditional power sources currently limits its applications.
The prototype PDA is the latest in a series of fuel cell-based consumer electronics products developed by Japanese consumer electronics companies.
NEC has developed a notebook PC powered by a fuel cell that runs for 5 hrs and plans to extend the operating time to 40 hours for commercial sale in 2005.
Toshiba has developed a fuel cell-based notebook PC that runs for 5 hrs and a hand-held-device fuel cell that weighs 130 grams. Toshiba plans to commercialize them in 2005. (Pinnacor, Forbes.com)
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