Toshiba Develops New Prototype DMFC

June 24, 2004 by Jeff Shepard

Toshiba Corp. (Tokyo, Japan) announced that it has developed a tiny prototype of a direct-methanol fuel cell (DMFC) that could eventually be used in consumer products such as digital audio players and even wireless headsets for mobile phone.

The fuel cell measures 22 mm x 56 mm x 4.5 mm, about the size of your thumb, and weighs 8.5 g. Despite its size, Toshiba claims the cell can power an MP3 player for up to 20 hours using a 2 cc charge of concentrated methanol (99.5%). The cell outputs 100 mW of power. Toshiba describes the fuel cell as a "passive DMFC" that feeds methanol directly into the cell. The company's design avoids direct reactions between methanol and oxygen.

Toshiba expects to offer commercial versions of the cells for PCs this year and for smaller hand-held devices in 2005.