Fuel Cells to explode in 2006 – Not literally

Fuel Cells to explode in 2006 – Not literally


Fuel cells have been touted as a long-lasting, instantly renewable power supply for mobile devices, but up until now, unfortunately, they still remain unseen in the marketplace. NanoMarkets, a market research outfit company, believes the solution is just around the corner.

Developments in the marketplace will make 2006 the take off year for mobile fuel cells, and by 2010, the market will be worth US $1.6 billion and US $2.7 billion in 2012, predicts the report.

Absence of a power source that can supply power with many hours between charges is a ticklish issue for makers of ubiquitous computing and smart phones. Nokia has cancelled one smart phone product due to battery-related problems. Japan’s mobile phone makers will add power-hungry digital broadcast tuners to their mobile phone models. Fuel cells are seen as a way to meet increasing demands for future power hungry devices.

Until recently, it was a tug of war between batteries and fuel cells. Now, new a paradigm is emerging. Fuel cells will be introduced initially as portable rechargers for existing batteries or in hybrid fuel cell battery combos in which fuel cells provide long-lasting power and batteries deal with power spikes. Even in 2010, more than 80 percent of fuel cells will be used in conjunction with batteries, avers the research report.

With the fate of ubiquitous computing at stake, the heavyweights of the electronics and computing industry are backing fuel cells. IBM and Sanyo have announced plans to produce a direct methanol fuel cell for the IBM ThinkPad. Other big players showing interest include 3M, Cabot, Casio, Fujitsu, Hitachi and Johnson Matthey, Motorola, NEC, Samsung, Sony and Toshiba; creator of the world’s smallest Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC).