Monday, February 23, 2009

Portable Power using methanol

SFC, a company based in Brunnthal, Germany, is developing a fascinating portable electrical power system. Right now, development of the JENNY 600S fuel cell focused on military applications, which makes a lot of sense. Soldiers us a tremendous amount of batteries while in the field. Virtually all of their important combat systems require electricity, from night-vision goggles to communications gear to the iPods they listen to while on the move. This product is a portable device that recharges those batteries using direct-methanol technology.

Since the devices are small (9.92 x 6.73 x 2.91 inches) and very lightweight (only 1.7Kg), it's easy to envision them on cars, campers and even airplanes. I could see an airport kiosk that sells the fuel cells (about .37Kg of methanol) so that a traveler could recharge their laptop and cell phone batteries before getting on the plane. And I could see emergency equipment on all kinds of vehicles being kept at the ready with such a device.

The company already makes products for non-military use. According to their website ...

SFC fuel cells are busy all over the world, from Japan to the Antarctic, generating electrical energy for mobile homes, yachts, vacation cabins, traffic-monitoring systems, observation stations, metering and early-warning devices, electric cars, and lots more. And the number of uses is growing every day. An SFC product was also the first fuel cell in the world to be included as standard equipment in a motor vehicle. It supplies current to the electrical devices on board Hymer S-Class mobile homes.

I suspect it will take a few years for this to make it to the consumer market. But it opens up all kinds of interesting possibilities. I've long held that power is the next frontier in mobile technology. This product could change the shape of that frontier.

SFC Smart Fuel Cell, Inc.: English Home Page

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