We've been hearing now for a few years that we'll one day be able to forgo the traditional batteries in our cameras, iPods, and cell phones, in favor of fancy fuel cells, but finally the time has come.
MTI MicroFuel Cells has recently announced the development of prototype camera and integrated cell phone and MP3 player fuel cells, which they showcased at the 4th International Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Expo in Tokyo. Their camera cell, designed to be the size of a conventional grip-style power pack for DSLRs, will last twice as long as its litium-ion counterpart, allowing you to take between 2,800 and 4,000 pictures per "charge." No word on weight, but that's a lot of pictures!
What if you run out of juice? No problem, just open the fuel cell, pour in some methanol (which you'll obviously have on hand for the occasion), and you're instantly back in business. The introduction of this new technology can mean great things for the environment; we won't have so many bloody batteries being tossed out each year, we reduce the amount of toxic metals and chemicals used in manufacturing and disposal, and quite frankly, since the majority of batteries in small electronics go dead over time as they are not being used and must be replaced, it saves money. How can even a rechargeable battery that takes hours to juice up compare to the instant gratification of a fuel cell?
While still only prototypes, the company is tooling to mass produce the cells and promised to have the technology on the market in 2009. And while, at first glance, this seems like it would be greener than batteries, we're still going to have to find a nice clean way to get all that methanol. Sounds to me like corn would be a good first place to look.
written by Tom, April 17, 2008
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