Next Step for Longer Laptop Battery Life – Direct Methanol Fuel Cells?

When I think back to the first articles we ran on Laptopical about the next generation notebook batteries, DMFC or Direct Methanol Fuel Cells, it feels like a hundred years ago, when in fact it was just over 12 months. In one article we predicted that these next generation fuel cells would be with us in about 2 years. Well, it’s always nice to get something almost right, and certainly with something as ground breaking as this.

The recent CeBIT conference has just wrapped up in Hanover, Germany, and as the cleaning staff trash the discarded flyers, free discs and coffee cups something far more intangible is left in that huge complex of dreams for companies and contractors.

Taiwanese hi-tech firm Antig were the first to announce that their methanol powered fuel cell batteries will be available to consumers early 2007. They revealed their brand new prototype, that for the moment fits into the media bay of your laptop, the home usually reserved for your CD or increasingly standard these days your DVD drive.

Once installed these batteries will run off Methanol cartridges. Rather than hold a charge like normal batteries, the methanol leaks out in a controlled manner, creates a chemical reaction within the complex machinery housed in the battery, and produces the electricity needed to run your laptop.

These cartridges at the time of launch will be widely available, affordable, and legal for planes on international flights. This legalization has been updated for an expected first quarter 2007 launch.

So how much life are we expecting to get from these early direct methanol fuel cell devices. Well conservative estimates quote about nine hours without a charge, certainly enough for any business person during their busy day, and about double what a fully charged lithium-ion battery can achieve at the moment.

Certainly the prototype isn’t pretty, but that’s the point, it’s a prototype. As soon as Antig get this into retail stores you can be sure it will look the bee’s knees and have the longevity that we all need.

OK guys, now what if I wanted to work all weekend, how about that for a next step?

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By Ian Bandy – Laptopical

Wednesday, March 29, 2006