Toshiba Dynario: A DMFC fuel cell for devices
Toshiba will finally commercialise their first solution of a combustible methanol (DMFC) fuel cell in Japan, allowing you to recharge small electronic devices.
For many years now fuel cells have been under development, but there are a lot of objects to overcome before the technology can be commercialised: miniaturisation, finishing, cost, production and distribution...
Fuel cells have for a long time been seen as a successor to Lithium batteries, with the evolution of their performance taking longer than other mobile technologies which is a great restriction for many current uses.
In relation to mobile telephones, which have been particularly invigorated due to the permanent addition of new functions, the battery life remains a great limitation and source of frustration for users who have to continually manage the use of their available options like WiFi connectivity so that the battery life can make it through the day.
Current efforts have mostly been aimed at improving existing technologies, like adding dynamic management circuits for energy consumption and trying to reduce power leaks.
The first miniature solution from Toshiba
While waiting for fuel cells to be integrated directly into mobile hand sets, Toshiba is looking to sell the Dynario in Japan, with this being their first external fuel cell capable of recharging mobile phones when you don’t have a power point near by.
Dynario is presented as an external mobile phone charger, with it using a methanol DMFC base (Direct Methanol Fuel Cell) which combines methanol and oxygen from the room to produce electricity.
Its real advantage over external lithium batteries is that its can be recharged in less than 30 seconds by simply filling up its methanol tank. To assure the recharging system works optimally, Dynario has actually been created as a hybrid system, with the energy that is produced by the DMFC fuel cell being stored in a Lithium battery before it is delivered to the mobile device. This assures that the electricity flow to your hand set is constant.
A first real step for fuel cells
It goes without saying that this is just a first step in getting fuel cells out of development laboratories, with numerous technical constraints having been overcome by implementing standard solutions. Toshiba has also announced that this product has a series limited to 3000 units.
There is still a lot of work to do before a complete fuel cells can be mass produced, although this release displays that the Japanese group is now capable of providing sufficiently up to date technology which can lead to commercial release.
The Dynario fuel cell will be sold from the 29th of October for 29800 yen (approximately $328), while the methanol cartridges produced by Toyo Seikan Kaisha will be sold in five packs for 3150 yen (approximately $35).
Dynario’s size will be 150x74.5x21mm, with it weighing 280 g and coming with a 14ml tank. The concentrated methanol cartridges will be 50 ml, allowing you to recharge the fuel cell multiple times. Toshiba has indicated that their system will provide enough energy to recharge two standard mobile phones.
Dynario will perhaps not yet drastically change the way we use the technology, but it does provide a real solution to the problem related to the limited battery life of mobile gadgets, with it being relatively simple to use and of a compact size.
|ABI: Dramatic growth of Augmented Reality on smartphones|