New Technology Powers Fuel Cells

A new fuel cell for notebook PCs, more compact and powerful than competing technologies, could be on the market in early 2006 at a price of around $90, its Japanese inventors claim. Materials and Energy Research Institute Tokyo (Merit) is betting on direct borohydride fuel cell technology, which it sees as cheaper and more compact than the direct methanol fuel cell technology other Japanese companies are developing.

Fuel cells generate an electrical current from a chemical reaction between a hydrogen-containing fuel and oxygen. How much current a cell produces depends on a number of factors, including the exact chemical reaction involved and the area of the membrane which separates the fuel from the oxygen. The length of time which the cell can produce power varies with the nature of the particular reaction and the amount of fuel stored in a reservoir.

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