PolyFuel announced yesterday that they have a working prototype of their methanol fuel cell laptop which they will demonstrating across the consumer electronics industry. The prototype is a Lenovo T40 that uses a direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC). This technology converts methanol to electricity to run the computer.
As consumers are becoming more an more conscious of their impact on the world around us, they are demanding cleaner and greener technology. Fuel Cell technology will be a welcome alternative in the consumer electronics market helping replace those relics with their planned obsolescence and toxic materials.
The benefit of the of the DMFC is that it uses a renewable fuel, Methanol (aka wood or methyl alcohol) that can be refilled. The fuel cell can be made from biodegradable or recyclable material and when it has reached it's end of life does not have to end up in a land fill or a costly hazardous waste processing facility.
A single cartridge can provide 10 hours of battery life and that is most likely not running at full capacity. Researcher's theorize that if they can get the cell operating at 100% capacity they will be able to get 10 times the power of a similarly size Lithium Ion battery.
PolyFuel's prototype battery is slightly larger than the OEM battery for the Lenovo, however it is considerably lighter and currently offers 3x the battery life. There is still no word when they expect these to be to market but they do say that fuel cell powered consumer electronics are feasible within 2-3 years. It is just nice to know that there is a working prototype and that this long anticipated technology is not merely vaporware.