Canon Develops Tiny Fuel Cells for Digital Cameras

October 25, 2005 by Jeff Shepard

Canon Inc. (Tokyo, Japan) announced that it has developed tiny fuel cells that it hopes will start replacing conventional batteries to power some of its digital cameras and printers in three years. Canon is aggressively investing in the development of new products, keen to cultivate new growth drivers as the digital camera market slows and competition in the printer and copier markets heats up. The move is also in line with its plan to cut procurement costs by bringing more production of key parts in-house.

While most of the development of tiny fuel cells is currently focused on devices that derive hydrogen from methanol, Canon is working on a system that supplies hydrogen directly from a refillable cartridge. Canon's system would be environmentally friendly because fuel cells that extract hydrogen from methanol emit some carbon dioxide as a byproduct. Fuel cells that use only hydrogen do not. The company has developed three prototypes. One is relatively large and would likely be used in a compact printer, another is the right size for a digital camera, and the smallest is about 3 cm x 4 cm (1.2 in x 1.6 in) for smaller mobile devices.

Canon has not yet decided on how to sell the product, but would likely refill the hydrogen cartridges at Canon outlets.