BASF is going after the future market for fuel cells as a way to power portable electronic devices. The hope is that a fuel cell combined with a storage device would yield a higher power to weight ratio than existing rechargeable batteries and hence longer battery life.
The hydrogen in the cartridge would be subject to 10 times atmospheric pressure-- about the same level as in a butane cigarette lighter, BASF says. The nanocubes provide controlled release of the hydrogen to the fuel cell, the company says. The hydrogen-- fed fuel cells could power portable devices for more than 10 hours, it adds.
However, as a portable power source the hydrogen fuel cells face a competitor in the form of liquid powered fuel cells. There are companies bringing out prototype liquid fuel cells for portable electric power sources. A company called Smart Fuel Cell argues that methanol fuel cells will be more convenient since recharging will be easier.
In April 2002 SFC had presented the first prototype power supply for mobile office applications at the Hanover Fair. Manfred Stefener, founder and CEO of Smart Fuel Cell: "So far we have miniaturised our products every six months by more than 50 %. The recent progress demonstrated now is based upon an entirely new DMFC stack design. Furthermore, we have made every system component smaller in close collaboration with our supplier network."
SFC has furthermore built up the first infrastructure for fuel cartridges. Stefener said, "It is essential that cartridges are widely available for the consumers, for example at filling stations and supermarkets. This is a lot easier to establish for methanol cartridges than for hydrogen-based systems, and we have already realized the complete logistics chain of the cartridges for our first series product."
Update: Another interesting article on recent fuel cell advances can be found here.
|Share |||Randall Parker, 2002 November 24 01:59 PM Energy Tech|