[CS-FSLUG] Fuel-cell powered devices getting closer

Fred A. Miller fmiller at lightlink.com
Tue Dec 2 00:02:43 CST 2008

By Nick Farrell
Monday, 01 December 2008, 10:40 AM

*FUEL CELL-POWERED* gear is a step closer now that the US government has
removed legislation that would have prevented the development.

Technology that allowed tiny fuel cells, powered by combustible liquids
or gasses, which could power a laptop for days between refills, have
been stalled because regulators were not convinced they were safe.

Now the US government has removed a key roadblock when the Department of
Transportation amended its hazardous materials regulations to allow
cells with methanol, butane or formic acid to be carried on airplanes.

Previously it thought that since Methanol and butane were flammable, and
formic acid is corrosive, it was not a good idea to have them on
aircraft, which meant fuel cell development had remained in limbo.

Sara Bradford, an energy and power systems consultant for Frost &
Sullivan said that one of the largest challenges to this market was to
overcome that regulation problem.

Use of fuel cells where a tiny amount of fuel flows into a small chip to
generate electricity without combustion, means that users will swap out
a fuel cartridge to continue listening to music or check e-mail.

Bradford said that such products are now a year or two away, as
electronics manufacturers show more interest and fuel cell makers move
beyond trade show prototypes.

Lilliputian Systems said it will introduce a portable fuel cell late
next year for any device that can be charged via a USB port.

The cigarette-pack-size charger will use a canister of butane, the same
fuel used in cigarette lighters, to power up an iPod, BlackBerry, GPS
device or digital camera.

Mouli Ramani, Lilliputian's vice president of business development said
that a teaspoon of the fuel can provide 20 times the run time of a
battery of the same size.

It will be sold as a charging system pack for between $100 and $150 with
refill cartridges costing $1 to $3. µ


"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties
than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to
control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by
deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks
will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up
homeless on the continent their fathers conquered." Thomas Jefferson, 1802

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