Samsung shows off fuel cell for notebooks

Samsung unveiled a prototype of a fuel cell that can run a laptop for 15 hours or more and may come to the market in 2007.

Like fuel cells for MP3 players devised by Toshiba and others, the Samsung fuel cell runs on liquid methanol. The methanol passes through a specialized membrane, which extracts electrons.

The fuel cell has an energy density of 200 watt hours per liter. Since notebooks consume around 15 watts to 10 watts on average, which means around a 15 hour run time. (200 watt hours divided by average watts.) It can provide a maximum output of 50 watts.

Samsung's fuel cell, however, is big. While Toshiba's is smaller than an asthma inhaler, Samsung's holds around 200 cubic centimeters, roughly the same volume as a small milk carton.

Toshiba's fuel cell is also passive, meaning it doesn't have a fan. So far, other notebook fuel cells developed by other companies have required fans to circulate the methanol. It is unclear if Samsung's has a fan.

The news of Samsung's presentation was reported by The Joon Gang Daily, a business newspaper.

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    Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.

     

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