NEC, Toshiba, Others to Unify Fuel Cell Standards

March 25, 2003 by Jeff Shepard

NEC Corp. (Japan), Toshiba Corp. (Japan), Hitachi Ltd. (Japan) and others have announced that they are working together to unify the technical standards for tiny fuel cells that can be used to power laptops, cellular phones and other portable devices. The fuel cells would be fueled with methanol, a hazardous substance, so the companies believe that the fuel cells must be designed and manufactured under a unified standard to maintain safety.

The manufacturers aim to enable such fuel cells to be used in various mobile devices, and will devise same-size products for each use, like laptops and personal digital assistants. The companies also want to make the standards global by taking the lead in such efforts. A working committee formed by trade groups to which the major manufacturers belong, such as the Japan Electrical Manufacturers Association, the Battery Association of Japan, and the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association, will unify the standard. The committee will begin talks with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in April 2003 and flesh out the details next fiscal year.

Casio Computer Co. Ltd., Canon Inc., Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd., Sharp Corp., Sony Corp., Fujitsu Ltd., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. and Mitsubishi Electric Corp. also plan to take part in the effort.