October 29, 2004 Japanese electronics company NEC has shown the latest prototype of a laptop with built-in fuel cell, claiming the prototype has 10 hours life, extending the life of the traditional battery powered laptop by up to 50%. Early versions of the NEC fuel cell laptop have been shown several times over the last two years, but this time the company intends to put a fuel cell laptop on the market in Japan before the end of 2004.
Whatsmore, NEC expects that the efficiency of the fuel cell can be boosted to increase "battery life" to more than 40 hours between refills by 2006.
The compact fuel cell battery is charged by 300 cubic centimetres (half a pint) of methanol and uses a catalyst to break this down into oxygen and hydrogen, generating power and a small amount of heat as by-products.
The first model fuel cell is lightweight on its own, weighing in at only 0.9 kilograms (1.98 pounds), but when built in to the laptop adds 2 kg (4.5 lb) to the overall design.
NEC laptops with the fuel cell battery will go on sale later this year, with similar devices to power mobile phones being developed by Motorola and Toshiba.