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September 19, 2005

Toshiba Tests Fuel-Cell Music Players

Courtesy of EE Times

TOKYO — Toshiba Corp. has built fuel cells in small music player prototypes and begun field testing to check their durability and safety.

The prototypes will be shown at CEATEC Japan 2005, to be held Oct. 4 to Oct. 8 in Makuhari near Tokyo.

The direct methanol fuel cells, built into a 75-gram flash memory based music player and a 270 gram hard disk based music player, use 100 percent methanol.

Toshiba developed the first passive DMFC prototype in June 2004 by optimizing the structure of the fuel cell's electrodes and polymer electrolyte membrane. The fuel cell generates 100 milliwatts (mW)-- enough to power most mobile devices using thick methanol--allowing the use of a compact fuel tank. The prototype measures 22 x 56 mm with a thickness of 4.1 to 9.1 mm at the tank.

For the music players, Toshiba engineers modified the last year's fuel cell to design two cell packages, a smaller 23 x 75 x 10 mm package to house a 3.5 ml methanol tank, and a larger 60 x 75x 10 mm package for a 10 ml tank. The smaller cell allows 35 hours of runtime with 100 mW output; the larger cell allows 60 hours of runtime with 300 mW output.

Toshiba built about 100 units of these music players and is now using them for a field test. The production fuel cells will be slightly larger than the prototype because they includes check functions to gather test data and meet the International Electrotechnical Commission's proposed draft safety standards.

Toshiba intends to introduce the compact DMFC products in 2007.

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