PolyFuel Breaks Durability Barrier with DMFC Membrane

November 01, 2005 by Jeff Shepard

PolyFuel Inc. (Menlo Park, CA), a provider of direct-methanol fuel cell (DMFC) technology for portable devices and laptop computers, announced that its hydrocarbon DMFC membrane has passed the 5,000-hour mark in durability testing. The hydrocarbon DMFC membranes have demonstrated higher performance than the older fluorocarbon membrane technology, and have passed the previous durability milestone of 3,000 hours in June 2005.

"Membrane durability has always been one of the key technical challenges faced by fuel cell manufacturers, as it translates directly to the lifetime of a fuel cell," said PolyFuel President and CEO Jim Balcom. "In applications targeted for portable fuel cells, consumers are acclimatized to battery lifetimes in the 2,000-hour to 3,000-hour range for their portable devices. Quite understandably, electronics manufacturers and fuel cell developers see this as a crucial benchmark."

The charge-keeping capability of a typical lithium-ion battery degrades steadily over time and with use. After only one or two years of use, the run time of a laptop or cell phone battery is reduced to the point where the user experience is significantly impacted. For example, the run time of a typical four-hour laptop battery drops to only about 2.5 hours after 3,000 hours of use. By contrast, fuel cells built with PolyFuel’s membrane continue to deliver nearly their original levels of run time well past the 2,000-hour and 3,000-hour marks, and are still going strong at 5,000 hours.