Research Says Micro Fuel Cells Will Power Nearly 15% of Laptops in 2012
May 13, 2004
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Micro fuel cell (MFC) technology will power nearly 15 percent of the world's laptop computers as early as 2012, according to a recent ABI Research study.

The new power source should be seen in a limited number of laptops and PDAs, and in certain niche applications, in 2005, ABI said. The research firm's projections indicate a trial production of 2,000 units next year, mostly in Japan and in the U.S. Though the technology's initial promise was demonstrated by U.S.-based companies, Japanese firms have taken the lead more recently, ABI said.

After a successful rollout, companies will be able to scale up manufacturing capacity rapidly in successive years, assuming essential codes and standards are in place. Worldwide MFC shipments may then reach 120 million units by 2012, ABI predicts.

"Not everything is a bed of roses in the micro fuel sector," said Atakan Ozbek, director of Energy Research. "Most of the information that comes from companies is still not verifiable due to the emerging nature of the technology.

"This makes it hard to evaluate the sector's true status," he added, "but our research indicates that micro fuel cells will be powering 13.5 percent of laptops by 2012."

Although most of the companies have been secretly showing their working units to product vendors, no major vendor has yet signed a declaration of agreement, ABI said.

One of the research firm's significant findings is that if micro fuel cells are going to enter commercial markets in even a small way in 2005, manufacturers must demonstrate their prototypes along with efficient refueling mechanisms before the end of 2004.

ABI reports that mass consumer acceptance may be restrained if refueling or replacing fuel cartridges carries a high cost. However, the firm says the model has worked for the inkjet printer and ejectable razor industries, and companies such as Gillette, BIC, and Tokai are showing interest in distribution.

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