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Mr. Anderson
Sep 25, 2002, 10:16 AM
Ok, this is something to sit up and take notice of. http://www.cnn.com/2002/TECH/ptech/09/22/micro.fuel.cells.ap/index.html

Once this hits main stream in several years it will change portable devices dramatically. Just the thought of never having to worry about plugging the TiPB in makes me happy....and why stop there? You could have almost any powered device run on these things. Imagine a PowerMac that had a fuelcell for a power source, light fixtures, everything that takes batteries now. This is great stuff! :D

D

oldMac
Sep 25, 2002, 10:43 AM
But also a lot of hassle...

1) First, these things won't be cheap

2) You can't recharge them

- After they run out of juice, you have to buy a new "methanol pack". How is this less convenient than a disposable battery?
- The company estimates that they will last about 10x longer than high-end batteries.
- Assuming this is true (not exaggerated), then an oft-used cell phone battery will then last about 2 weeks and you buy another one
- For an oft-used laptop, that means you'd have to replace (aka, buy) the battery after every 30 hours of use

Gaz
Sep 25, 2002, 10:46 AM
Mmmm looks interesting but it would create lots of waste and be expensive for things like laptops as you would need to buy cells fairly regularly?

I could see this would be really good for things that use regular batteries thou.

Damn it!!! oldMac has just made the same points as me grrrrr....

Mr. Anderson
Sep 25, 2002, 10:54 AM
Of course, but its just a start. As the technology progresses, they will get more efficient and last longer. Just like the batteries used today are much more longer lasting than ones used 10-20 years ago. And the price will come down eventually - it will take a while for it to enter the main stream - I was just looking at the potential.

D

shadowfax
Sep 25, 2002, 11:21 AM
i fail to see the problem with getting refills. it doesn't seem like you would have to buy a new battery, just the methanol supply. i am sure they would set it up so you could buy methanol refills as easily and cheaply (actually much moreso, methanol is not exactly hard to get) as you get gasoline... i see every walmart and every airport and so on and so forth everywhere selling them... and as far as the "packs" go i am sure they would (if we are not dumb freaking americans like we are about glass bottles) give you discounts for returning them to get refills. this is NOT going to be that much more expensive. if it were, it would never be successful.

Gaz
Sep 25, 2002, 11:50 AM
Unless there's a way to recharge them they would not be that great alternative for laptops. As a suppliment to what we have now but not a replacement.

The fact that i can plug my Tibook in without having to go to the shops everytime I want to take on the road is a huge plus.

It would be cool thou to buy a battery thou if mine ran out.

shadowfax
Sep 25, 2002, 12:08 PM
since when would fuel cells disable plugged in use? we are talking about having a bunch of small refills to a battery system fuelled by methanol; this would be inexpensive and have the advantage of lasting (now) 30 hours before you have to change out. i think that is much preferable to having to plug your laptop in every 4 hours (for a pb) or every hour or two for anything else. this is a phenomenal technology, why make assumptions about how inconvenient you are sure they would inevitably make it.

Gaz
Sep 25, 2002, 12:31 PM
Ok calm down. I was just questioning your point. I just wanted to provoke a dicussion.

From what I read it wasn't clear about things like recharging. I assumed (wrongly it would appear) that the methanol would run out after use and require refilling. i understood this to be a physical thing which standard electric main can't do. Obviously if they want to put it in phones this has all been thought about.

I'm not questioning the price. This clearly has great potential. As I said from what I originally understood would be a great suppliment (ie as well).

Sorry to get worked up but it's been a long day.

TMay
Sep 25, 2002, 01:29 PM
...that when I actually read some stuff about fuel cells (at least in this case) you probably have a cartridge that contains methanol (probably something like those cheaps cigarette lighters) that can be replaced when necessary, so for all practical purposes, these fuel cells will produce power as long as you can keep supplying methanol cartridges.

There is probably a life limit on fuel cells of x thousands of hours as I suspect that they degrade.

big
Sep 25, 2002, 01:44 PM
ugg, it's just scary to think of adding more fuel to the gas fire....and make my mac run of it? odd...

shadowfax
Sep 25, 2002, 05:38 PM
originally posted by big
ugg, it's just scary to think of adding more fuel to the gas fire....and make my mac run of it? odd...

what gas fire? the one your car is burning up at god knows how many gallons per hour of driving it? i am sure you could power your laptop for years on the gas you use on a few commutes to work. furthermore, while methanol is currently derived from natural gas because it's the most economically sound thing to do, it can be made from a bunch of *renewable* resources...

originally found at http://www.methanol.org/fuelcell/fact/climate.html
Methanol can be made from any renewable resource containing carbon, such as seaweed, waste wood and garbage. Renewable sources of hydrogen can be converted to methanol by reaction with carbon dioxide, which can even be extracted from the atmosphere. Converting hydrogen to liquid methanol makes it readily available at ambient temperature and pressure.

i certainly agree that there is a life limit on fuel cells--that far oustrips your laptop's life. there's a limit on how long everything lasts--not to mention those lovely Li-ion batteries we use now. they deteriorate gradually, decreasing the life of the battery as you recharge and reuse it.

sorry if i seem "huffy;" i'm really not. this idea is just potentially so much more environmentally sound than metal-based batteries.

but yeah, gaz, no hard feelings. at the bottom of that artical it describes how this fuel cell technology creates electron current by separating the protons and electrons and making them flow through a wire... so it's the same effect you get from plugging your laptop in. they are inherently compatible, although you are probably right that the battery won't link to an alternative power source like the Li-ions, because it can't recharge.

this stuff is cool, but perhaps pointless to debate since we won't see it till 2004 at the earliest. i hope they go back and make batteries for the old TiBooks!

big
Sep 25, 2002, 05:48 PM
hmmm, I would be fine with it if it were as convinient as plugging it in. So what would I do, wjen the battery gets low, just pour a little juice into it? literally no wires! That could be very cool!

If it could run a powerbook or iBook, why not a G5? (he he)
if that's the case, let's stop growing so many cows, grow a few thousand acres more of corn or beans, and make methanol for just about everything (I think you can make methanol from these).

Especially Cars! that would rock....plug in/methanol vehicles.

though what kind of waste are we talking here? How does that work?

rainman::|:|
Sep 25, 2002, 06:57 PM
you people simply refuse to read an entire article, don't you? :)

yes the cell would have to be replaced. this isn't a chemical reaction that can be reversed with electricity.

as for waste, it produces about a drop a day, that evaporates.

i agree that it would be less convenient in its current state... but as was said, as it gets refined, it should prove to be an interesting innovation...

i'm curious to know how long the cells can be stored and still produce a charge, as opposed to batteries which eventually lose theirs. i could see the first practical application being an emergency flashlight for your home/car... and heater, for that matter. i live in iowa, where the winters can be harsh, i'd definitely pay for something that could keep me from freezing to death if my car broke down in a snowstorm...

:)
pnw

shadowfax
Sep 25, 2002, 08:28 PM
au contraire, i read the article and then some, lol. that was almost exactly what i was trying to say--about how convenient this would be when it goes to market. it will be way cooler than our dump Li-ions, and it will be competitively priced. as far as emergency stuff, though, i don't see that happening at first. they have been using methanol power cells in huge ways, namely in cell spaces of like an acre or something. this is a shrinking technology--i would expect to see it on laptops, camcorders, and other large portable devices first. on the other hand, they may be fast to produce smaller, lower-power cells than are needed for laptops &c that produce enough for flashlights and stuff.

TMay
Sep 25, 2002, 10:18 PM
"And no more recharges. When a fuel cell runs out of methanol, just snap on a replacement fuel cartridge"

It doesn't say how long the fuel cells last(how many refuelings), though it is still my guess that impurities in the fuel will cause it to degrade over time.

shadowfax
Sep 25, 2002, 10:20 PM
and then you buy a new spark plug!

edit: finally i am a "member!"

unreg
Sep 26, 2002, 02:14 PM
The next great power source could be carbon microtubes. Much work is being done in this area. Next time I see the good dr., I'll ask about progress and rechargeability.

Gelfin
Sep 26, 2002, 02:34 PM
The biggest problem I see with methanol fuel cell batteries is that they are potentially explosive. If the technology is ever to be successful, it will have to be made safe enough for everyday handling (which they claim to have accomplished). But the biggest advantage to a 30-hour battery involves long airplane flights, and that's the one place you'd NEVER be able to take these things. No matter how safe they were made for everyday use, you'll never be permitted to take a container of a compressed volatile gas onto an airplane.

mcrain
Sep 26, 2002, 04:21 PM
A mini-fuel-cell iBrator! I need to get one for my wife!!!

mcrain
Sep 26, 2002, 04:22 PM
Originally posted by Gelfin
The biggest problem I see with methanol fuel cell batteries is that they are potentially explosive. If the technology is ever to be successful, it will have to be made safe enough for everyday handling (which they claim to have accomplished). But the biggest advantage to a 30-hour battery involves long airplane flights, and that's the one place you'd NEVER be able to take these things. No matter how safe they were made for everyday use, you'll never be permitted to take a container of a compressed volatile gas onto an airplane.

No, they certainly wouldn't let you take an aerosol can of hairspray on a plane. heck no...

What planet are you on.

The oxygen above your head is compressed gas, and it's explosive.

shadowfax
Sep 26, 2002, 05:41 PM
originally posted by Gelfin
The biggest problem I see with methanol fuel cell batteries is that they are potentially explosive. If the technology is ever to be successful, it will have to be made safe enough for everyday handling (which they claim to have accomplished). But the biggest advantage to a 30-hour battery involves long airplane flights, and that's the one place you'd NEVER be able to take these things. No matter how safe they were made for everyday use, you'll never be permitted to take a container of a compressed volatile gas onto an airplane.

this is definitely the best argument against the things i have seen so far. if they really are all that volatile, that is. but you don't see the airports bitching about something like cigarette lighters. i am almost positive this stuff is less volatile than that.

but i could be totally wrong. certainly they would be mad about a big propane tank in your luggage. of course, that is intensely compressed. i'd gotten the impression that methanol is in liguid form reasonably stably. i bet it would take a LOT of methanol cartridges to put a dent in an aircraft.

i think the premise for this is that fuel cells are supposed to be designed to take as much power as possible from a small amount of fuel. i would think these would be in like FAA rated cartridges--i e, they would be rated to withstand air pressure at 30,000 ft without leaking. and even that is stupid. if the cabin depressurizes, chances are you've got a lot more to worry about than 200 or so methanol cartridges on your airplane.... like maybe the multi-thousand gallon fuel tank on the plane itself?
everything about airplane travel is dangerous--traveling at 550 mph, travelling 30,000 feet off the ground, the fact that the plane was designed by humans, the fact that the plane has enough flammable liquid in it to destroy the plane many times over... it's a matter of making those risks negligible through sound, safe design and inspection.

i really think they will let them on planes; just a matter of designing nice cartridges.

phampton81
Sep 26, 2002, 06:15 PM
The way I understand the article these methanol catridges would be exactly like an everyday cigarette lighter, not compressed, but in liquid form. If that is so, I don't see why they wouldn't be allowed on airplanes right away. It is already clear that the cartidges wouldn't cost much because there is simply nothing to them, just the case and methanol, you could easily keep 3-4 on you or in your laptop bag and be good to go for nearly a week, remeber that most of the time you will be using your laptop you should be near an outlet, therefore you would only be using these in transit.

Spock
Sep 26, 2002, 09:21 PM
A SWITH AD: " i was on a long flight, I pulled out my PC notebook and started to wath a DVD half way into the movie my battery goes dead, that's when I noticed that the guy beside my had already wathed 2 dvd's on his New Fuel cell Powerbook.

mcrain
Sep 27, 2002, 10:41 AM
Originally posted by Spock
A SWITH AD: " i was on a long flight, I pulled out my PC notebook and started to wath a DVD half way into the movie my battery goes dead, that's when I noticed that the guy beside my had already wathed 2 dvd's on his New Fuel cell Powerbook.

And there was this weird humming coming from under his wife's blanket... a fuel celled iBrator!