Toshiba Corporation (Tokyo, Japan) will exhibit two fuel-cell audio players at CEATEC Japan, October 4-8. The two prototype audio players operate on direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) units, which Toshiba called the world's smallest fuel cell when it announced their development in June of 2004. The new units are designed to help Toshiba validate fuel-cell operation with mobile audio players and help bring their practical use a step closer.
A new fuel-cell unit with an output power of 100mW is integrated into a flash-memory-based digital audio player. The 100mW unit is similar in shape and size to a pack of gum – 23 mm wide by 75 mm long by 10 mm deep. It can power the flash-based player for approximately 35 hours on a single 3.5ml charge of highly concentrated methanol, the fuel that drives the electricity producing chemical reaction in the fuel cell.
A new unit with output power of 300mW is integrated into an HDD-based digital audio player. The unit is 60 mm wide by 75 mm long by 10mm deep and delivers enough power to keep the HDD-based audio player running for approximately 60 hours on a single 10ml charge.
The design of the fuel cell units reflects current moves toward international standardization of micro fuel cells and meets the International Electrotechnical Commission's draft safety standards now under review.
Toshiba's DMFC features a passive fuel supply system that is suited to smaller fuel cells and use with a highly concentrated methanol solution. Fuel cells usually mix methanol with water in a concentration of less than 30 percent, a dilution that supports generating efficiency but which requires a fuel tank that is much too big for portable equipment. Through durability and reliability tests with the new units, Toshiba hopes to accelerate technology enhancements, including development of production technology, to support integration of DMFC into commercial products in 2007.
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