Antig Technology to Commercialize Consumer Fuel Cell Products

June 29, 2006 by Jeff Shepard

Antig Technology Co. Ltd., plans to commercialize its direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) technology later this year. The company will formally announce its first DMFC product in the third quarter. Shipments are planned to start in the fourth quarter of 2006, Antig reported this week at the Taiwan Small Fuel Cells Symposium that was held at Taiwan's Institute of Nuclear Energy Research (INER) in Lungtan, Taoyuan County.

The first product will be a 16W standalone power charger that can be used for recharging batteries of handheld devices, such as MP3 players, mobile phones, GPS receivers, PDAs and portable multimedia players, according to Antig. Called Begini (although this name is not yet official), the device may also work as a secondary power source for laptops when they are powered by internal batteries, extending overall battery life. Utilizing 70ml methanol cartridges, the charger provides output voltages from 5V to 17V, having, as one of its features, ability to power electronics devices through the USB interface. The cartridges will presumably be supplied by France-based BIC, but Antig has not yet officially confirmed cartridge suppliers. Without a cartridge, the Begini charger weighs about 800 grams, and its dimensions are 230�70�80mm.

Antig's DMFC solution is based on using printed circuit boards similar to those used by the electronics industry. The DMFC module has a sandwich structure, and a PCB lamination process is utilized for module assembling. It also incorporates, as one of its key elements, membrane electrode assemblies developed by US-based DuPont, with the membranes consisting of a sulfonated tetrafluorethylene copolymer called Nafion. The solution supports SMBus as an interface for system management communications.

When asked about estimated retail prices for its charger and fuel cartridges, Antig noted that cartridge suppliers are currently aiming for US$5, and the Begini device will definitely be priced under US$5,000 that corresponds to the current price level of a similar product from Germany-based Smart Fuel Cells (SFC), which already has some experience in shipping DMFC devices. SFC also joined the conference in Lungtan, and its founder and supervisory board member Manfred Stefener complimented Antig's efforts to pull the DMFC component vendors together to develop the project. He advised Taiwan companies not to be in a rush to develop the DMFC market. Stefener pointed out in a panel discussion that the DMFC industry has a lot of interesting technologies, but it still lacks markets and applications. The industry's first priority should be to search for those markets and applications, he emphasized, and other panelists supported him saying that no DMFC supplier has yet actually demonstrated a clear way to reach the mass market.