This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

May 08, 2002

Miniature Fuel Cells Show Hope for Portable Electronics

Fuel cells offer an advantage over many other power sources by producing a lot of power in a small volume. Several companies are now trying to squeeze fuel cells into smaller and smaller spaces, allowing them to potentially provide a long-lived power source for cell phones, laptop computers, and other portable electronic devices.

One such company is Manhattan Scientifics, Inc., which is developing a miniature fuel cell powered by sodium borohydride. In mid-April, the company claimed to have boosted the power of its miniature fuel cell to at least six times better than lithium ion batteries. See the Manhattan Scientifics press release.

An example of the competition is Mechanical Technology Inc., which unveiled its methanol-fueled miniature fuel cell in mid-March. In late April, the company received an award of $500,000 from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to further develop the technology. See the March 7th and April 25th press releases from Mechanical Technology.

Researchers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have developed their own solution to the problem: a flat fuel cell, also powered by methanol. The fuel cell group at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has proven that the cell will work - now they just need to make it smaller. See the JPL press release.