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Comments on: Don't Use Batteries; Just Say ''Fill 'er Up''

MTI MicroFuel Cells Inc. is making progress towards creating a methanol fuel cell small and inexpensive enough to power a handheld. These will get their power, not by being plugged into a wall socket, but from a tiny replaceable methanol fuel cartridge. It is still in the prototype stage and the smallest model is currently about the size of a deck of playing cards, but in coming years the company hopes its fuel cells will be far smaller while providing ten times the power as a li-ion battery of the same size.
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HAHAHHA

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/11/2002 1:32:13 PM #
hahahhahahahhahhhahahhahahha
RE: HAHAHHA
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/11/2002 1:34:07 PM #
Why is this so damn funny? Fuel cells are going to provide a good source of energy to everything and be much cheaper in the long run.
RE: HAHAHHA
Timothy Rapson @ 8/11/2002 1:43:08 PM #
I comment the original poster. How many of these "rocket cars will be in every garage by 1960." articles do we read and there is never...OK hardly ever, any followup. I want to see an article pointing out all the predictions of technological breakthroughs of 2-20 years ago that have failed.

One from wayyyyyy back was something called "bubble memory" it would be 1/100th cost of silicon memory chips. Where is it?

Holographic memory? home atomic generators? clothes that display graphics? disposable clothing? the list is endless.

I want to see a real product with this methane power before I get too excited.

Not that it is not fun to dream, but keep in mind dreaming is what we do when we are asleep.

RE: HAHAHHA
mtg101 @ 8/11/2002 1:45:56 PM #
yeah... one day they may - but they'll need to get the size down a heck of a lot from a deck of cards before they're any use for PDAs or phones

---
russ@russb.fsnet.co.uk
RE: HAHAHHA
BUDD @ 8/11/2002 1:46:37 PM #
I agree--we HAVE to start coming-up with alternative power source schemes. The technology seems to be there but the market and the will is weak. I personally can't wait till we turn garbage into fuel (like the Back-to-the-Future Time Machine; I have alot of garbage, you know ;)).

Power worries me most as my weakspot when it comes to my business management plan in an extreme event such as a

RE: HAHAHHA
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/11/2002 2:08:58 PM #
Yeah ... and some day we will have a computer that will fit in the palm of our hand ... ha ha ... oh wait ... that happened. Never Mind.

-Eric

Sober Business Sense
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/11/2002 2:27:10 PM #
I'm not surprised at the negative reaction. Every new technology has been greeted with people who said it would never work. Probably the first guy who brought fire into the cave was told it would get out of control and kill the whole tribe. But Ughugh the Apeman didn't listen to the nay-sayers and thank god. These are the same people who told Columbus that sea voyages were a waste of time and told the Wright brothers that man wasn't meant to fly. No inventor worth his salt has ever listened to them.

Batteries, even li-ion ones, have about reached their max potential and something better needs to be found. I'd like a T665C but I won't buy something that only runs for 2 hours without needing a charge. If someone could find a way to power it for 20 hours (which this fuel cell tech promises), it would be much more useful. Everyone who had an old Palm Pilot or even IIIx and who remembers changing the AAAs every couple of months knows how great it is to not have to worry about power.

As wireless HotSyncing and networking become more prevalent, long lasting power supplies are going to become critical. Charging my m515 isn't a big deal because I have to put it in my cradle every day to update AvantGo. Why bother with wireless HotSync if I still have to frequently charge the PDA in the cradle? And 802.11 won't catch on with handhelds until it will go for more than a couple hours without totally draining the handheld's batteries. If a fuel cell can handle this, sign me up.

If this catches on for electronics, like cell phones, PDAs, GameBoys, MP3 players and so one, you'll eventually be able to buy a standard sized methanol cartridge at a convenience store, like you buy AAAs now. They could even be the size of AAAs.

I don't know if this company will succeed. But at least they are trying, not clinging to the past and ridiculing people who are trying to improve the future.

RE: HAHAHHA
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/11/2002 4:40:45 PM #
"Every new technology has been greeted with people who said it would never work. Probably the first guy who brought fire into the cave was told it would get out of control and kill the whole tribe."

You had to use an example from thousands of years ago? That is not the case today.

"Batteries, even li-ion ones, have about reached their max potential"

That's a safe assumption to make considering they have been a standard source of power for so long.

"I'd like a T665C but I won't buy something that only runs for 2 hours without needing a charge."

exaggeration, possibly circumstantial?.. yep

"Everyone who had an old Palm Pilot or even IIIx and who remembers changing the AAAs every couple of months knows how great it is to not have to worry about power."

This is only not having to worry about power in one way (time). You could say the same for a clie with a li-ion (accessibility).

"you'll eventually be able to buy a standard sized methanol cartridge at a convenience store"

Not likely considering the design/varying sizes of these products.

"not clinging to the past and ridiculing people who are trying to improve the future."

huh?

RE: HAHAHHA
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/11/2002 6:21:04 PM #
"hahahhahahahhahhhahahhahahha"

Dude, what rock have you been under for the last couple of years ?
We got fuelcell based cars & buses driving around here in Europe !
Geesh.

RE: HAHAHHA
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/11/2002 7:13:18 PM #
To the guy who thinks thatīs not the case today for technology to be received by unsupportive people, but only by cavemen:

Have you ever heard of Tom Watson saying that there was no market for more than five or six computers in the whole world?

Or Bill Gates saying that w64 k should be enough for us all?

Thank God we didnīt pay attention to them...

RE: HAHAHHA
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/11/2002 7:52:05 PM #
Looking for and exploring alternative sources of energy is paramount in the society we live in now. But I feel we have learnt our leasons and found our limits of fossil fuels. Sure we can get energy from it and refine it, but we should be looking at cleaner sources. ie Hydrogen fuel from water, solar, magnetic, and yes even nuclear. Nuclear cells make sense, this stuff is contained naturally in pockets in our planet, why not contain it in smaller safer quantities? Air has energy, there is massive magnetic energies within our environment.
BUT HAVING SAID THAT, DAMN GOOD ON THEM FOR THE RESEARCH THAT MAY LEAD US TO EFFICIENT ENERGY.

BRUCE

RE: HAHAHHA
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/11/2002 8:51:11 PM #
>> I'd like a T665C but I won't buy something that only runs for 2 hours without
>> needing a charge.

> exaggeration, possibly circumstantial?.. yep

People, haven't we learned yet that you can't say anything negative about any Sony model whatsoever? Everything Sony does is godlike and without flaw. Who cares if ED tested the T665C and found that with the backlight on full, it gets just over 2 hours of battery life. (Check his review) and the NR series Memory Stick slots are totally ****ed. We Sony fanatics are willing to ignore those pesky facts and continue to obsessively worship at the Sony altar.

RE: HAHAHHA
sfdh66787 @ 8/11/2002 9:51:09 PM #
Agreed on the Sony comment, darn you Sony, why does your stuff have to be so good?

Alex

RE: HAHAHHA
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 6:15:49 AM #
HAHAHHA guy, you are an ass.
Go learn to walk upright.
RE: HAHAHHA
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 11:53:22 AM #
>>>
I want to see an article pointing out all the predictions of technological breakthroughs of 2-20 years ago that have failed.
<<<

Popular Science does this every so often.

>>>
One from wayyyyyy back was something called "bubble memory" it would be 1/100th cost of silicon memory chips. Where is it?
<<<

Bubble memory works fine -- we don't see it because someone thought of something better: Flash memory.

>>>Holographic memory?

These exist; they are used primarily for image storage and pattern matching in specialized applications. Currently, the setup is a bit big and delicate (and pricey) for PDAs.

>>>Atomic home atomic generators?

There are obvious reasons these aren't available for homes! However, hand-sized atomic power plants are commonly used on space probes, and other remote instrument packages where other power sources are impractical.

>>>clothes that display graphics?

Coming, but not yet generally available...

>>>disposable clothing?

Ever heard of Tyvek? (sp?) (Think FedEx envelopes) This is commonly used in disposable lab clothing and haz-mat suits. (It's also a great vapor-barrier in house building applications.)

>>>the list is endless.

It is, but I think we more than make up for it with the sucess of the "sucesses:"

Think of the laser -- when it was invented, it was called "a solution without a problem;" we know now that the laser is one of our most useful and versitile inventions.

>>>
I want to see a real product with this methane power before I get too excited.
<<<

These exist. For one thing, there are 10kw home power fuel-cells in limited production today. These are about the same size as a 10kw gas generators, but virtually silent. There does not seem to be any technical barrier to using these any more (now that membrane-based methods for extracting the hydrogen from conventional fuels exists -- this is the key enabling technology for "micro" fuel cells, by the way).

Most of the ideas that "seem" to be failures have either been eclipsed by better technology, or they have been found to practical for only certain applications. Just because a technology has been superceded or used in a different (maybe less visible) way does not mean it is a failure.

-Brett

Morons abound
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/13/2002 2:56:06 PM #
> "I'm not surprised at the negative reaction. Every new technology has been greeted with people who said it would never work."

I can't believe how stupid some of the comments on PIC are. Just because many new, worthwhile technologies have been initially ridiculed provides absolutely no reason to believe that ridicule can in any imaginable way be used to argue for the potential value of a new technology. I suggest the original poster take a basic statistics class covering Bayes Theory. Many new ideas are considered stupid, erroneous, or confused, and the fact is that most of them are. That a few turn out to surprise their detractors is wonderful, but I'd suggest it's more valuable to continue being skeptical, particularly of ideas backed by startup companies. Caveat emptor.


RE: HAHAHHA
alchemist @ 8/13/2002 5:31:04 PM #
I think this is great news... an effective fuel cell that runs on a "clean" fuel, methanol, which can be obtained from fermentations, using no fossil fuel at all... Can't wait to see this thrive!

_________
alchemist

Solar-Powered PDA's

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/11/2002 1:46:10 PM #
I'm still waiting for Solar-Powered PDA's. We have calculators like this - where is the PALM?
RE: Solar-Powered PDA's
BUDD @ 8/11/2002 1:50:15 PM #
I bought one of those photovoltaic recharge pannels with a connector for my Visor Edge. It takes forever to charge in direct sunlight. You really need to daisy-chain 2 or 3 of them together to get it done (and they are expensive). I guess the power requirements of a calculator are so much less than a PDA with a 33mhz processor. But I agree, solar would be about the best if they could pull it off. A hydrogen fuel cell I would think would be even better (just take your PDA over to the sink and fill it up like a squirt gun...seriously).

RE: Solar-Powered PDA's
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/11/2002 2:43:29 PM #
There are solar batteries for cell phones now. It's definitely feasible for handhelds.
RE: Solar-Powered PDA's
PenreeSoft @ 8/11/2002 2:59:56 PM #
Check out the solar chargers from Tech Center Labs at www.talestuff.com

Nicholas J. Penree
PenreeSoft
http://www.penreesoft.com
RE: Solar-Powered PDA's
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 11:42:04 AM #
Most pocket calculators (I'm not thinking of the sophisticated graphing kind) take very little power, and are able to run off the very small current provided by Amorphous (sp?) solar cells. These solar cells are relatively cheap and perform well in indirect light, but are pretty inefficient (about 7% conversion rate, I believe).

Silicon (and GaAs?) technologies such as those used on satelites are faily high as I recall (>25% conversion rate), but they are very expensive.

So the long and short of it is that running your average color PDA from Amorphous cells would require a speparate panel about a foot or so square, while Silicon cells might be the same horizontal size as the PDA, but cost as much as the PDA itself.

-Brett

RE: Solar-Powered PDA's
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 7:34:46 PM #
>(just take your PDA over to the sink and fill it up like a squirt gun...seriously).

I'm not sure about that -- my understanding is that a hydrogen / oxygen fuel cell burns hydrogen and oxygen to produce energy, and creates water as a waste product. Filling such a fuel cell with water would be like trying to run a steam engine with wood ashes.

Original story

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/11/2002 2:25:39 PM #
RE: Original story
Ed @ 8/11/2002 2:53:10 PM #
Actually no, I never saw that EE Times story before you pointed it out, but thanks for the additional info. You can read the press release on these fuel cells here if you want more:
www.mtimicrofuelcells.com/article.cfm?a_id=4065

Other articles on MTI's fuel cells:
http://c.moreover.com/click/here.pl?j44584757

http://199.97.97.16/contWriter/cnd7/2002/08/09/cndin/0463-0026-pat_nytimes.html

---
News Editor

Li-ion is just not good enough anymore

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/11/2002 2:26:31 PM #
but first, I hope they can really implement replaceable li-ions on PDAs while we wait for fuel cells. i am looking forward to this technology since li-ion is just not enough for small pdas anymore esp the clies.


GS

RE: Li-ion is just not good enough anymore
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/11/2002 6:10:18 PM #
err...they already have. The Toshiba e740 Pocket PC has a removable li-ion battery (its built-in 802.11b really sucks up the juice). You can swap it out for another normal-capacity battery or a bigger and heavier high-capacity battery.

Palm, Handspring, and ESPECIALLY Sony should take a hint and design their future PDA's to have removable batteries. If Pocket PC can have it then there is no reason that a Palm can't have it.

RE: Li-ion is just not good enough anymore
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 3:27:58 AM #
those u mentioned are pcc. this is a palm OS website so you should try to assume that im talking about palm OS.
RE: Li-ion is just not good enough anymore
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 4:19:02 AM #
> but first, I hope they can really implement
> replaceable li-ions on PDAs while we wait for fuel
> cells. i am looking forward to this technology since
> li-ion is just not enough for small pdas anymore esp
> the clies.

Like in the Handera 330?

RE: Li-ion is just not good enough anymore
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 11:14:01 AM #
> those u mentioned are pcc.
> this is a palm OS website so
> you should try to assume that
> im talking about palm OS.

Whether its a Palm or a PPC all future PDA/s should have removable li-ion bateries as a standard feature.

You shouldn't bury your head in the sand and pretend PPCs don't exist. Like it or not, PPCs compete with Palms in the PDA market. Pointing out that that a PPC has a superior (and commonsense) feature that most current Palms lack shouldn't be considered sacrilege, even on a "palm OS website". With Palm OS 5 just around the corner, I expect the new palm handhelds to match PPCs feature for feature. I can no longer accept anything less from the palm platform.

RE: Li-ion is just not good enough anymore
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 10:47:54 PM #
No, I don't think so. I bring my TRGpro everywhere because it works ALL THE TIMES BY ITSELF. What's the point to bring a PDA with extra stuff such as batteries or additonal expansion slut? Why not to get an sub-notebook if you are willing to carry that weight?
RE: Li-ion is just not good enough anymore
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 11:44:32 PM #
Sooner or later the battery in your TRGpro is going to wear out and you will have to send the unit to Handera to get the battery replaced. Wouldn't it just be easier if you could just slide the old battery out and slide a new one in?
RE: Li-ion is just not good enough anymore
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/13/2002 3:46:33 AM #
> What's the point to bring a PDA with extra stuff such as batteries or additonal expansion slut?

Hehehe, he said expansion slut....

Confused

abosco @ 8/11/2002 3:17:00 PM #
I'm a little confused about this statement:

"The company's latest prototype can provide 0.24 watt-hours per cubic centimeter of fuel consumed and is projected to yield up to five watt-hours of energy content."

Does that mean it has a constant run time of five hours? I'm not very good on the subject of watts so can you explain how long this prototype can give power to a pda in layman terms, please? I see that it is connected to the SPH-I300, so how long did that run before the fuel cell ran out?

_____________________________________________
Why do we park on a driveway and drive on a parkway??????

RE: Confused
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/11/2002 4:36:57 PM #
This is the energy equivalent to five watts (5 W) of power expended for one hour (1 h) of time
RE: Confused
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 5:47:49 AM #
The definitions are:
1 joule = the energy generated when 1 ampere of electrical current, passes through an electrical potential drop of 1 volt. Energy = Volts x Current.

1 watt = 1 joule/second.

So joules is a quantity of energy, and watts is the RATE of generation of energy. Watt = Energy / second.

To compare to a lithium ion cell that provides 3.5v for 1500 mAh (milli amp hours) which converts to approxamatly 5.25 Watts.

flammable palm

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/11/2002 5:08:45 PM #
some people really need to get busy!
can't wait to see the lawsuits for 3rd degree burns.
heh!
RE: flammable palm
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/11/2002 5:48:11 PM #
Grow up. palms are not for kids like you. get a cybiko or something.

why

UZI4U182 @ 8/11/2002 10:43:15 PM #
I think this is stupid to put in PDA's. I would rather use rechargeable lithium so I wouldn't have to keep buying these little fuel thingers. IF you're some super-rich person who wouldn't mind, be my guest. But I'm not a super-rich person, and I would rather use the lithiums. Even if i was super rich, I would still prefer lithiums. They work great for me.

--Devan--

Steam Powered Palm

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/11/2002 10:53:48 PM #
I don't care about this..

steam powered but be so much better

now THAT is something I'd pay real money for
maybe it would work well with my laptop too

RE: Steam Powered Palm
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 12:29:01 PM #
yeah, heck all you need is some wood and water, plus a turbine and a pressure vessel...

hmmm, and the great thing is it will fit in two suitcases making it easy to take with you.

RE: Steam Powered Palm
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 10:59:02 PM #
or maybe coal power would be better

I'd definitely pay for that instead of steam power.. steam power is inefficient

RE: Steam Powered Palm
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 11:24:52 PM #
Maybe they should mate them with one of those keen hand-cranked generators. You could use it anywhere, and never need to recharge anything. The only downside is that your Starbucks coffee hand would be tied up with the crank, thus damaging the buisness of Starbucks. It still would be a sight to see a bunch of yuppies sitting around grinding their PDAs like slaves.
RE: Steam Powered Palm
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 11:52:17 PM #
yeah...like a yuppie organ grinder...the only thing missing would be the monkey with a tin cup to collect spare change from passersby ;)
RE: Steam Powered Palm
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/13/2002 8:01:55 AM #
or how about something that connects the PDA to either a regular bicycle or a stationary bicycle and is powered by peddling?

And all you in this thread call yourself hi-tech???

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 4:36:47 AM #
This thread is proof that any new energy technology introduced on the market creates an almost knee-jerk reaction to supress it. This is due to the overwhelming vested interest it that threatens from the manufacturer to the end user.

This is a good idea. Will it work out? New energy technologies have always been a big risk due to feasability but most of all, political pressure.

The DOD/DOE calls this field "Energy Density Technology" and it considered very strategic toward National Security. There are battery technologies 10 to 100 fold more efficient than Li-Ion but is classifed for exclusive military use right now. FYI, Li-Ion were used all the way back in the 60's by the US military.

Sometimes guys like this get a big fat government contract and the patents are classified. Other times, it is reviewed as not a threat and is passively allowed on the civilian market.

Either way, forget PDAs, if this is cheap enough you could make a killing selling this stuff for electric cars!

Steve

'Bout time!

Strider_mt2k @ 8/12/2002 6:07:25 AM #
Fantastic idea!
Sure it's a little clunky, but it's just out. It'll be refined with time.
Anyone who would laugh at this is a luddite at best.


strider_mt2k@yahoo.com

Keep living the future!
Strider_mt2k @ 8/12/2002 6:11:28 AM #
BTW:
Ed, please keep posting articles like this!
Keep bringing us the latest stuff and don't listen to the luddites!


strider_mt2k@yahoo.com

Wet spot

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 11:13:18 AM #
The products of this type of cell other than energy are water vapour and CO2. I wonder if the device that a fuel cell might eventually power will require protection from the water produced?
RE: Wet spot
Ed @ 8/12/2002 11:24:52 AM #
Apparently, that's one of the main improvements in this latest prototype: MTI found a way to get rid of the water produced without tiny internal pumps. Check out its site for more details, though they are patenting the technology so they don't give many details.

---
News Editor

Good work!

PIC mobile user @ 8/12/2002 11:59:46 AM #
wow! in that way, I think I don't need to worry on recharging of PDAs.

Practical Limitations

I.M. Anonymous @ 8/12/2002 10:59:00 PM #
Not everyone uses their PDA in climate-controlled offices and warm California parks. I work in a cryogenic lab with an ambient air temperature set at 26 Farenheit. My colleagues and I have to swap in warm, charged batteries every hour. I have read that the processes involved in a fuel cell are very dependent on temperature, more so than batteries. I have to ask if this technology will really help me in my job.
RE: Practical Limitations
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/13/2002 12:12:53 AM #
err...no, but you can freeze yourself and have them unfreeze you when the world finally invents a battery technology that is suitable for your job.

Have you seen Ted Williams around the water cooler at work? Oops! Sorry, I forgot. You can't have a water cooler at work because it's 26 degrees Farenheit and a battery technology hasn't been developed to keep the water in the water cooler from freezing.

RE: Practical Limitations
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/13/2002 3:50:07 AM #
> Have you seen Ted Williams around the water cooler at work? Oops! Sorry, I forgot. You can't have a
> water cooler at work because it's 26 degrees Farenheit and a battery technology hasn't been
> developed to keep the water in the water cooler from freezing.


Um.... ok.

The original poster was bringing up a valid point about the dependancy of fuel-cells (and batteries) upon temperature. You manage to tur this into an attack on him and his working environment.


Ed, please get rid of the anonymous posting. Please!

RE: Practical Limitations
I.M. Anonymous @ 8/13/2002 1:41:14 PM #
> Not everyone uses their PDA in
> climate-controlled offices

It’s the middle of summer (at least in the northern hemisphere it is). Unless you work in Antartica, at 26 degrees Fahrenheit isn’t your lab climate controlled? ;)

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