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Fuel Cells/Micro 070330


 (March 2007)
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DMFCs appear to be the technology of choice to power consumer-portable device applications although  research and innovation into other fuel cell types are being ramped up. These are already underway, and microfuel cells currently being developed are showing efficiency rates close to 40 percent or more.  (Source: “World Micro Fuel Cell Market for Consumer Portable Deivces” by Frost & Sullivan.) +
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  Will Micro Fuel Cells Be Hybrids?
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Each year of this milenium, the world has been promised fuel cells to replace batteries. Of all the possibilities, fuel cells for portable electronics may be the first to market. (See BD #119, 1-4.)  Roadside soothsayers enthusiastically announce the death of batteries because of these long running and refuelable power sources. But underlying the hype, physics still dominates the real world, and micro fuel cells have poor high power delivery charactersitics. The cellphones and laptops, which fuel cells are to power, have thirsts for bursts of power in addition to the long run quiescent needs. To really provide the total energy and power bursts, Matsushita is pursuing a hybrid approach. As shown here, the fuel cell is connected to the back side of a loptop notebook. This prototype model was demonstarted at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show. The fuel cell occupies about 24 cubic inches and is externally attached in this prototype demonstrator. The average output is 13 Watts, with peak delivery of 20 Watts. Under control of a power management system, the high power Lithium-ion battery and the fuel cell work together to operate the notebook for up to 20 hours. No promise of the deleivery time of the hybrid system was announced.

Because high concentrations of methanol are used, the fuel cell design requires safe methanol packaging and international regulations covering methanol handling for use in sensitive areas such as aircraft cabins. With many small and start-up businesses pursuing a variety of configurations, it is important to know how a global battery provider such as Matsushita/Panasonic envisions the future market configurations. (Staff Photo) BD +
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 (Feb 2006) Angstrom Power, achieves record density and power for a micro hydrogenTM fuel cell.  Angstrom demonstrated a fuel cell system that provides 3 Watts peak power and 1 Watt average power with an energy density of over 300Whr/liter in a 25cc form factor.  This is a passive fuel cell system which requires no pumps, valves or heaters.  Startup is instant and requires no battery assist.  The system can operate independently as a power source for portable electronics.  Angstrom Power is located in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  
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 The International Electrochemical Commission (IEC) forms working group (WG 10)  to create standards for micro fuel cells.  The group will be chaired by Dr. Fumio Ueno of Toshiba.  WG10’s task is to set up an international standard for compatibility between the fuel cell cartridges.  The first meeting is scheduled to begin on September 20th, 2004 in Chicago.  Contact IEC for more information.
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 (June 2004) ABI (Allied Business Intelligence) projects micro fuel cell (MFC)  technology will power nearly  15% of the world’s laptop computers as early as 2012.  ABI Research projections also indicate that a trial production of 2,000 units next year will be used in PDAs and notebooks in Japan and the U.S. One of the studies significant findings is that if micro fuel cells are going to enter commercial markets in a small way in 2005, manufacturers must demonstrate their prototypes along with efficient refueling and replacing cartridges before the end of 2004.  

Will consumers adopt MFCs? Mass market acceptance may be restrained if refueling or replacing carries a high cost.  But the model has worked for the inkjet printer and ejectable razor industries such as Gillette, BIC and Tokai who are showing interest in distribution.   (Information is from ABI’s research study, “Micro Fuel Cell: Market Challenges and Opportunities for Cameras, Laptops and Wireless/Mobile Devices,” www.abiresearch.com.)
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 (April 2004) Stanford University increases fuel cell efficiency.  The task was accomplished by shrinking the channels (and adding more channels)  that deliver  the hydrogen. Based on a microchip etching process, the channels, with a dimensional width  of  20 micrometers, were bored.  The engineers, Suk Cha and Fritz Prinz, used a fuel cell  containing  a polymer based proton exchange membrane.  Hydrogen (not methanol) was and must be used in this application.  
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 (Febuary2004) Micro Fuel Cell Regulations & Compliance will be held on four different  dates on four different locations in 2004.  The next meeting is in February, 23-24 in Irvine, California, followed by a March 25-26 meeting in Washington, D.C. For information see the following website: http://www.cbinet.com/events/HS411/Index.html.
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 (Oct, 2003) Micro Fuel Cells Taget Battery Replacement In Handhelds

To replace a handheld battery, a fuel cell, with fuel must occupy 12 cm3 and deliver 300 mA at 3.6 V. Standard fuel cells require surface areas of 60 cm2 which would leave a fraction of a cm for thickness. To obtain the needed performance in a smaller size, STMicroelectonics is experimenting with buried microchannels and nanoporous layers fabricated of silicon. Funded by the National Research Porject and the Italian Government, the work is being done with ST and 5 italian companies.

Reference: Electronic Design, Oct 13, 03, p 25
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 (Feb 2006) Angstrom Power, achieves record density and power for a micro hydrogenTM fuel cell.  Angstrom demonstrated a fuel cell system that provides 3 Watts peak power and 1 Watt average power with an energy density of over 300Whr/liter in a 25cc form factor.  This is a passive fuel cell system which requires no pumps, valves or heaters.  Startup is instant and requires no battery assist.  The system can operate independently as a power source for portable electronics.  Angstrom Power is located in North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  
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 The International Electrochemical Commission (IEC) forms working group (WG 10)  to create standards for micro fuel cells.  The group will be chaired by Dr. Fumio Ueno of Toshiba.  WG10’s task is to set up an international standard for compatibility between the fuel cell cartridges.  The first meeting is scheduled to begin on September 20th, 2004 in Chicago.  Contact IEC for more information.
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 (June 2004) ABI (Allied Business Intelligence) projects micro fuel cell (MFC)  technology will power nearly  15% of the world’s laptop computers as early as 2012.  ABI Research projections also indicate that a trial production of 2,000 units next year will be used in PDAs and notebooks in Japan and the U.S. One of the studies significant findings is that if micro fuel cells are going to enter commercial markets in a small way in 2005, manufacturers must demonstrate their prototypes along with efficient refueling and replacing cartridges before the end of 2004.  

Will consumers adopt MFCs? Mass market acceptance may be restrained if refueling or replacing carries a high cost.  But the model has worked for the inkjet printer and ejectable razor industries such as Gillette, BIC and Tokai who are showing interest in distribution.   (Information is from ABI’s research study, “Micro Fuel Cell: Market Challenges and Opportunities for Cameras, Laptops and Wireless/Mobile Devices,” www.abiresearch.com.)
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 (April 2004) Stanford University increases fuel cell efficiency.  The task was accomplished by shrinking the channels (and adding more channels)  that deliver  the hydrogen. Based on a microchip etching process, the channels, with a dimensional width  of  20 micrometers, were bored.  The engineers, Suk Cha and Fritz Prinz, used a fuel cell  containing  a polymer based proton exchange membrane.  Hydrogen (not methanol) was and must be used in this application.  
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 (Febuary2004) Micro Fuel Cell Regulations & Compliance will be held on four different  dates on four different locations in 2004.  The next meeting is in February, 23-24 in Irvine, California, followed by a March 25-26 meeting in Washington, D.C. For information see the following website: http://www.cbinet.com/events/HS411/Index.html.
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 (Oct, 2003) Micro Fuel Cells Taget Battery Replacement In Handhelds

To replace a handheld battery, a fuel cell, with fuel must occupy 12 cm3 and deliver 300 mA at 3.6 V. Standard fuel cells require surface areas of 60 cm2 which would leave a fraction of a cm for thickness. To obtain the needed performance in a smaller size, STMicroelectonics is experimenting with buried microchannels and nanoporous layers fabricated of silicon. Funded by the National Research Porject and the Italian Government, the work is being done with ST and 5 italian companies.

Reference: Electronic Design, Oct 13, 03, p 25
BD