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MTI Micro plans fuel cells for digicams

Company says it's working to adapt its integrated methanol fuel cell technology for digital cameras.

MTI MicroFuel Cells is hoping to use its portable fuel cells in digital cameras.

The company, a subsidiary of Mechanical Technology, announced Wednesday that it is already working with a Japanese optics manufacturer to adapt its integrated Mobion fuel cell technology for digital cameras.

Peng Lim and a fuel cell. Methanol goes in. Water, CO2, and electrons come out. Hanna Sistek, CNET Networks

Fuel cells are being explored as potential power sources for everything from data centers to SUVs. Over the years, MTI Micro has designed products for the industrial and military markets, but as of late, the company has been making a big push on the consumer electronics side, with the hope of replacing lithium ion batteries with miniature methanol-based fuel cells.

Last week, the company debuted a prototype of a fuel cell designed for handheld GPS devices. The deal announced Wednesday will further MTI Micro's push into the realm of digital cameras. (MTI already has a fuel cell that snaps onto the bottom of an SLR camera, which the company says can keep photographers shooting pictures for twice as long a regular lithium ion battery pack.)

"MTI Micro has now signed agreements with two global OEMs that operate within two of the three largest consumer electronic segments--mobile phones and digital cameras," MTI Chief Executive Officer Peng Lim said in a statement.

The duo hopes to have prototypes of the fuel cell-based digital cameras out later this month.

Several other companies--including Sony, Samsung, and Motorola--are working on fuel cell technology for consumer products.

And just as gadget makers are increasingly looking to incorporate fuel cells into their products, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced it will allow passengers to carry approved methanol fuel cells and up to two spare fuel cartridges in their carry-on bags.