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Fuel cell firm secures $15.6 million

Fuel cell developer PolyFuel has closed a $15.6 million second round of financing, the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company said Thursday. The company is developing fuel cell technology as an alternative power source to lithium ion batteries for portable electronic devices, such as laptops and wireless phones. The company hopes to bring its "micro" fuel cells to market in 2004.

Fuel cells, an emerging technology that creates electricity through a process that combines hydrogen and oxygen, have generated much excitement as a low-emissions energy alternative for motor vehicles. PolyFuel, a spin-off of the nonprofit engineering research company SRI International, said fuel cells can dramatically improve the usability of portable electronics with a longer-lasting, instantly rechargeable power source.