Willich-Münchheide, Germany: Working with Aquafairy and Kyoto University, Rohm has developed compact, lightweight, and high-powered hydrogen fuel cells designed to power smart phones and other portable devices. These fuel cells overcome the drawbacks of dry cells, lithium-ion (Li-ion) cells, and direct methanol fuel cells, significantly reducing weight and increasing output power while providing a higher level of safety, according to the company (see the figure).
Fuel cells are made smaller, lighter, and more efficient than conventional storage and rechargeable cells, so they’re expected to drive expansion into new markets and applications. In fact, methanol and hydrogen fuel cells already are extensively used. However, methanol fuel cells have several disadvantages that prevent widespread acceptance. Unlike hydrogen fuel cells, it is difficult to increase power output. Hydrogen fuel cells also require the use of cylinders, making them harder to handle and hindering efforts toward greater miniaturization.
Rohm and Aquafairy have succeeded in solidifying calcium hydride in a sheet configuration using proprietary technologies, generating approximately 4.5 litres of hydrogen from a sheet less than 3 cc in volume (measuring 38 by 38 by 2 mm), providing a power output of 5 Whr. The hydrogen fuel cells are compact and operate at ambient temperatures, suiting them for use in portable devices. They emit no carbon dioxide or hazardous gases. And, they can be disposed of as general waste.
Production is targeted for April 2013.