KDDI has announced an agreement with Toshiba Corporation and Hitachi Limited to cooperate on research into the next generation of batteries for mobile communication devices such as mobile telephone handsets. The objective of the research is to develop a compact fuel-cell battery that can be used in mobile phones by the end of 2005.
There is a continuing trend for mobile telephones to consume more and more power, as LCD screen functionality increases, and applications become more powerful. With new features such as terrestrial digital broadcast receivers and online settlement systems reaching maturity, it is expected that this trend will continue as users use their mobile phones more and more often. Considering this, increasing battery life, along with reducing power consumption of mobile phones is becoming an urgent issue.
Presently, mobile phone manufacturers are concentrating on increasing the battery life of lithium ion batteries. However, current battery technology has limited capacity to keep up with the rapid increases in mobile phone functionality. Soon, a new battery technology with higher energy density will be needed, and with it, an improvement in power supply technology.
The fuel-cell battery technology being researched here is appropriate for mobile phones in that it has high energy density, is environmentally superior, and can be recharged simply by adding fuel. While already under consideration for automobiles, PCs, and certain household products, are now also thought to be an excellent choice for the next generation of mobile telephone battery technologies. Hence, KDDI has entered into contracts with both Toshiba and Hitachi to cooperate on the development of fuel cell batteries.
Research will cover areas such as miniaturization, ease of use and all technical considerations required for incorporating the batteries into mobile phones. Plans are to complete an external, battery-charger-type model within 2004, and complete a mobile phone built-in model by the end of the 2005 fiscal year. The three companies are already actively participating in national and international standardization and de-regulation efforts related to fuel-cell technology.
KDDI hopes that the incorporation of fuel cell technology into mobile phones will contribute significantly to ease-of-use, as longer usage times for high-performance handsets becomes possible, and recharge time becomes no longer necessary.