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back to article Sharp claims record mobile fuel cell power density

Sharp has claimed the crown for the highest power density mobile fuel cell. It delivers enough power per cubic centimetre, it's said, to one day replace standard lithium-ion packs. This time it really will... Sharp's Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC) has a power density of 0.3W per cubic centimetre. That's almost seven times …

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Great on long plane journeys

"What would you like to drink, Sir?"

"Glass of red wine please, and a shot of vodka for the laptop"

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Laptops?

I just cannot wait to refuel my laptop ;)

But what about carrying liquids on airplanes?

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Useful Biproducts?

The cell turns methanol into carbon dioxide and water, effectively turning vodka into soda water at the same time as powering your phone.

Could we wire it up the other way, and have a cell that you plug into a recharger that coverts fizzy drinks into alcopops?

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Meths actually

Unless I read it wrong, this is designed to run on Meths, not drinking alcohol !

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Why on earth....

...would that be a step forward from a battery storing electricity? So now you have to keep a canister of methanol to hand rather than a power pack??

Baffled for now....

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Why on Earth indeed!

The reason is that it takes like 10-20 seconds to refuel a power cell versus 4-6 bloody hours to recharge a fully drained Lithium Ion battery. Also, depending on the way the fuel is produced, it *might* be more environmentally friendly than Lithium as well.

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Re: Meths actually

Nope, it's designed to run on methanol, which is not the same as Meths (or methylated spirit) - Meths is just a contaminated/unpurified mixture of ethanol (CH3CH2OH, like in Vodka) and other stuff, whereas methanol is CH3OH and *much* more volatile - no way you'd get that on a plane. In fact you would not really want to carry methanol around anywhere in great quantities.

Meths, and ethanol, are liquid up to about 78 celsius, and burn fairly slowly and with a relatively cool flame (ouch hot, but not metal-melting hot). Methanol boils on a warm day and will form an explosive vapour very easily in air.

I don't think this is really practical until it can work with ethanol, or paraffin or something a bit less volatile.

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Sony will love this

We're all indoctrinated now to the burning laptop battery. So now it will really "burn"! Can't wait to hear about sony batteries buring up or better yet, blowing up!

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RE; "Why on earth...." - missing the point

I'm sure the point is that whilst a battery is the preferred method for storing and transporting electricity, the fuel cell will provide an extra battery life "boost" alongside the traditional storage methods, for long journeys and extended stays in areas without electricity.

At least, that's what I've always thought, and indeed how it would be most useful... right? Fuel cells would be impractical for everyday use, but would excel in the situations i mentioned above.

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Make it ethanol and rewrite the song

Bartender, give me one for me, one for my battery, and one for the road(ster).

(Looking at a biofuel future when , with drink in hand, one must decide whether to use it to drink, drive, or derive!)

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reminds me of a quote from a webcomic

"Mad Science means never having to say,'what's the worst that could happen?'"

I mean, come on, laptop batteries, flammable liquids, Sony...what could possibly go wrong there?

Flame icon, well, obviously.

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Back to the Future?

At the end of Back to the Future Doc has replaced his U-235 guzzling reactor with a houshold waste munching one. Given that methanol can be made by partial oxidation of biomass could this be Docs new power plant? Shove your potato peelings and tea bags in one end, get CO2, water and juice out the other!

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re: Re: Meths actually

Meths does contain methanol, it's three quarters ethanol (drinking alcohol) and a quarter methanol (wood alcohol) plus a few additives to try to stop you drinking it/give it that lovely purple colour. Methanol is fairly toxic and very flammable, doubt they'd let you take it on a plane, something that ran on butane (lighter gas) would be nice, easily available, easy to refuel

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Tiny, tiny power cells ... with tiny, tiny exhaust pipes

Never mind laptops and PDAs, surely this development could revolutionise power cells for electric vehicles. Much smaller and lighter than at present; less weight to lug around, so better economy; easily replaced - buy them in Halfords when needed. It's about time that a true break-through product such as this was produced. I'm really excited ...

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So they give off CO2?

Isn't this what we are trying to cut down on to reduce global warming? Just waiting for the emissions based laptop tax to kick in...

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@chris

Surely you're not suggesting they'd let you board a plane with a cannister of butane to refuel your laptop?

How about an industry-standard 'refuelling valve' and a gadget on-board (and in the terminal, and on trains, and in shops) that'll refuel your battery for a small fee?

(Note to Sony: patent idea - I called it first!)

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Transporting Methanol...

so about as dangerous as that cartridge of butane in any smokers pocket then...

I think that transporting it is only a problem until a suitable cartridge is developed.

whats the bet that when it is, its AA sized! Then you can refil from an aerosol or buy new cartridges over the counter at any newsagents etc...

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why not distilled water hydrogen PEM fuel cell tech ?

why are they looking to use flamable methanol fuel cell tech for laptops , when theres already distilled water hydrogen PEM fuel cell tech ?

http://www.h-tec.com/education/english/technologie_brennstoff.asp?id=314

http://www.h-tec.com/education/english/sub_produkte/demonstration_exhibition.asp?id=221-

sure hydrogen is more flamable in bulk ,BUT, these units only convert and use tiny amounts at a time compared to the far higher amouts required in carrying Methanol canisters...

and at a pinch you can make your own distilled water for use in these water PEM very easlly.

perhaps it comes down to no margins in it for the distributers, as per petrol there needs to be a profit in it perhaps.

OC in this single PEM case, your average users might not mind paying a premium in less expensive distilled water, as apposed more expensive methanol fuel cell tech running costs.

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