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Tiny fuel cell gives double laptop juice

sssss.jpgPolyFuel, a company that makes membranes for fuel cells, says it has made a tiny fuel cell that can give twice the power a laptop needs to run.

Check out this pic for size.

What that means in English is they’ve made a very small fuel cell (funky battery that runs on different, er fuels) that has a lot of power.

This one, they say, provides 500 watts per litre of methanol it uses.

“In layman’s terms, explained Voss, this means that long-running fuel cell power supplies of a size and weight attractive to consumers, and that physically integrate with a laptop in the same fashion as today’s Lithium ion batteries, are technically within reach.

Fuel cells can be thought of as “refillable” batteries. But unlike a battery, which when exhausted must be recharged or discarded, fuel cells will run continuously, as long as there is fuel available.  As conceived by most consumer electronics manufacturers, many of whom have aggressive fuel cell development programs, the consumer would simply “pop in” a replacement cartridge of methanol fuel when necessary. Spare, lightweight, plastic cartridges – made readily available in convenience stores – could be carried in ones pocket or purse. Eight to ten hours of laptop runtime per cartridge is a common industry goal.

The membrane is the heart of the fuel cell, and the various layers of the sandwich are designed to deliver fuel and air to as much membrane surface area as possible, while diffusing away moisture and CO2 byproducts. Certain layers additionally provide a current path to carry off electrons produced at the membrane’s surface. This current is used to power the portable device. PolyFuel’s 56 Watt stack has a volume of just over 111 cubic centimeters (see photo).

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