Nokia Testing Fuel Cell Bluetooth Headset

September 19, 2004 by Jeff Shepard

Mobile phone company Nokia Corp. (Finland) announced that it is currently testing 100 fuel-cell-powered bluetooth headsets, and has been since June 2004. The 66 mW fuel cells are powered by liquid methanol and have enough fuel capacity to allow more than 10 hours of talk time. Nokia modified the available Nokia HS-3W headset to use a fuel cell.

Since June 2004, 100 company employees have been testing a modified version of the commercially available HS-3W headset in daily use. The headset uses a bluetooth interface to connect wirelessly to the mobile phone. Instead of the headset's standard rechargeable batteries, which allow talk times of up to four hours, the test versions are powered by a direct-methanol fuel cell. The fuel cell is refueled through a small valve with a bottle of liquid methanol.

The tests are expected to continue through the fall of 2004. Whether the tests will result in a marketable product has been left open. Aside from technical issues, the development of a sales network for methanol is a hurdle for market introduction. In addition to Nokia, electronics manufacturers Casio and Motorola are also developing miniature fuel cells for powering small devices. No products are commercially available yet. Nokia gives no target date for a market entry of its fuel cell device.