A Methanol-Based Fuel Cell For Your Pocket

MTI MicroFuel Cells sent out a press release that states that by the end of 2009, the company will have a pocket-size charger available for consumer electronics that runs off a methanol-fuel-based fuel-cell technology. MTI promises that you can get up to 25 hours worth of power from a single cartridge. At this early stage it's hard to tell how people will react to the prospect of having potentially, highly-combustible fuel in their pockets. Alas, there is no word yet on just how safe the technology is... For instance, will it be allowed on airplanes?

The press release is below...


- A cord free micro fuel cell charger that provides true mobility -

Albany, N.Y., December 10, 2008 — MTI MicroFuel Cells ("MTI Micro"), the developer of the award-winning Mobion® off-the-grid portable power solutions and a subsidiary of Mechanical Technology, Incorporated ("MTI") (NASDAQ: MKTY) unveiled today a new product intent external power-pack prototype capable of providing up to 25 hours of on-the-go power with each cartridge. This compact and light weight fuel cell charger comes with a removable cartridge that can be swapped for a new one when depleted. Each additional cartridge gives consumers another 25 Watt-hours of power. With the Mobion® charger, for the first time, consumers can envision a world where power is instantly available where ever they are, when ever they need it.

The new Mobion® self-sufficient power pack includes a USB interface, allowing the prototype to also be used as an independent energy source for a variety of purposes, including for recharging mobile phones, digital cameras, portable media players and other handheld electronic devices on the go.

With the amount of power from one small cartridge, the charger is designed to fully charge an average cell phone battery over 10 times; for an average user, this could power a cell phone for approximately one month, play 10,000 thousand songs or watch over 100 hours of video on their popular MP3 player, or take over 6000 pictures on a high end professional digital camera. In addition, the charger is designed with smooth edges for an easy grip comfortably fitting in the palm of one´s hand, and has interactive LED lights and easy-to-swap cartridges for intuitive use.

"Our Mobion® product strategy is in line with what consumers on-the-go need. On average, in the U.S., mobile professionals carry 3.4 portable electronic devices with them, and are now buying a universal charger to conveniently recharge all their device batteries." said Peng Lim, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of MTI. "However, these conventional chargers still need to plug into an electrical outlet to recharge once the energy is used. Our Mobion® charger allows consumers to charge their devices anytime, anywhere by eliminating the need to plug their devices or Mobion charger into a wall outlet and wait for a recharge — our Mobion® charger generate electric power on the go and provides true mobility."

At the core of MTI Micro´s compact charger prototype is its proprietary third generation Mobion® Chip, a design architecture that embodies a reduction in the size, complexity, and cost of fuel cell construction. These changes drive improvements in reliability, manufacturability and low cost products. The Chip is based on 100% methanol fuel, passive, direct methanol fuel cell technology, and integrates a power module with fluid conditioning that allows the system to run in a wide environmental range including temperatures from 0oC to 40oC at any humidity level — an industry standard and a requirement of many OEMs who want to integrate fuel cells into their products. In laboratory testing, this third generation Mobion® Chip demonstrated power of over 62 mW/cm2 while producing more than 1800 Watt Hours Per Kilogram (Wh/kg) of energy from the direct methanol fuel feed.

"These chargers have been built using processes developed to increase throughput efficiency, intensify our testing, and increase reliability and consistency among units", said Jim Prueitt, Vice President of Engineering and Operations. "We are committed to ensure a process that delivers the engineering and manufacturing rigor necessary to make consistent, reliable products."

MTI Micro has plans to launch a product by the end of 2009 and pursue the consumer market with target applications which include hand-held communication, and other power-hungry portable electronic devices that can benefit from Mobion® extended run-time, cord-free rechargeable power packs with continuous access to power anytime, anywhere.