Toshiba fires up the PC power problem with new methanol-based power source

Toshiba debuts prototype methanol-fuelled notebook at this year's CEBIT show

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By  Mark Sutton Published  March 9, 2003

With Toshiba joining the race to create the market for a portable computer disposable power source, could this signal the end for the rechargeable notebook battery?

Earlier this year both NEC and Hitachi were keen to demonstrate their latest portable innovation, a prototype fuel celled alternative.

Toshiba’s Methanol Fuel cell to be premiered later this week in Germany is reported to offer distinct advantages for the user in both terms of instant power and operating times that have often dogged the business traveler.

The current limitations of lithium-ion batteries have left end users struggling with low resolution graphics, and slower access to software, contrary to the demands of their computer’s high specification capabilities.

The new style disposable batteries hope to remedy this with the breakthrough of its DMFC technology, generating outputs of between 12-20W, it will optimize operating efficiency by reducing waste and conserving any unused power for future use.

Toshiba has achieved this by devising a high concentration method of methanol whereby the fuel tank will be less than a tenth of the normally required size. In addition to this are miniaturized technologies combining an interface and electric circuits to assure an efficient control of the power supply.

Though Toshiba have overcome the problems of weight by a higher concentration of the methanol used, this does create some questions over the safety of the product, and the environmental concerns of creating waste batteries.

Dealers will have a chance to judge for themselves though when the prototype goes on display to attendees of the Cebit Exhibition in Hanover, from the twelfth to nineteenth of March.

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