NEC Unveils Methanol-Fueled Laptop

June 29, 2003 by Jeff Shepard

NEC Corp. (Tokyo, Japan) revealed a prototype of a laptop computer that runs on a methanol fuel cell instead of a rechargeable battery, and said it will start selling it next year. A number of other companies are developing similar fuel cells, which promise to power electronics 10 times longer than the lithium-ion batteries currently in use. Also, users will be able to keep operating their computers by replacing the fuel cartridge or refilling with methanol fuel, instead of recharging the battery.

NEC initially plans to introduce a computer with a fuel cell system able to run for five consecutive hours on a single cartridge of methanol fuel, but also plans to make a PC within two years that can run continuously for as long as 40 hours. NEC rival, Toshiba Corp., reported in March that it had developed the world's first prototype of a methanol-type fuel cell system to run notebook PCs. It also plans to commercialize its product in 2004.