Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. today announced the development of a new fuel-cell material technology that enables the use of 30% methanol – highly concentrated methanol – as a fuel source, as well as a prototype power unit that incorporates the technology. This technology enables much higher power capacities for passive micro fuel cells and realizes longer runtimes for mobile devices such as notebook PCs, PDAs and mobile phones.
Micro fuel cells, envisioned for use in mobile devices, generally use alcohol solutions as fuel. In terms of energy density, these fuel cells offer up to 5-10 times the power per unit weight of a Li-ion battery. From the user’s perspective, micro fuel cells have advantages in that they offer cheap and easy means to power electronic devices by simple refueling, enabling continuous use when traveling with no access to the power grid.
Passive systems are best suited for micro fuel cells to help keep the package compact and light, as they do not require fuel pumps or circulatory fans. Thus, in order to obtain long runtimes without such functions, the fuel cells must be able to handle concentrated methanol as its fuel.