Casio Computer has succeeded in developing a small-scale fuel cell that can be used in portable devices such as notebook computers.
In the fuel cell, a micro-reactor formed on a silicon wafer causes a chemical reaction to reform methanol to hydrogen gas in the presence of a catalyst at a reforming rate of more than 98%. Electric energy is then generated from the hydrogen through a generating cell.
The catalyst used in the micro-reactor was developed under the guidance of Professor Akira Igarashi of Kogakuin University in Japan.
Casio claim that a laptop computer equipped with its fuel cell will be half as heavy and provide about four times the lifetime of a comparable system using a Lithium ion battery.
Casio aims to commercialise the fuel cell in 2004.
In February, researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the US said that they too had developed and demonstrated a laboratory prototype miniature thin-film fuel cell power source.