Green-ITInnovationMobility

Toshiba Launches USB Methanol Fuel Cell

The device allows for speedy charging of two handsets from one dose of methanol

Japanese tech giant Toshiba has announced the Dynario – an external fuel cell for mobile phones and other devices which the company claims can charge two handsets from one refil of methanol.

The fuel cartridge will be launched in Japan in a limited edition of 3000 units and will only be available via the company’s direct-order web site – Shop1048, the company said.

“The power consumption of mobile electronic devices, including mobile phones, has greatly increased with added functionality, including TV reception and Internet connectivity,” the company said in a statement. “As a result, battery exhaustion has become a major concern. Dynario’s direct methanol fuel-cell delivers almost instant refueling that untethers electrical equipment from AC adapters and power outlets.”

According to Toshiba, once the device is fueled – via an injection of methanol from its dedicated cartridge – Dynario starts to generate electricity that is delivered to the mobile phone or a digital media player via USB. “On a single refill of methanol, which can be made in around 20 seconds, Dynario can generate enough power to charge two typical mobile phones,” the company said.

Toshiba added that the Dynario also included a lithium-ion battery charged by the fuel cell to store electricity.

In April, The U.S. Department of Energy awarded mobile operator Sprint $7.3 million (£4.9m) in funding for fuel cell technology. The grant funding will be used to expand the number of Sprint mobile sites that rely on hydrogen fuel cells for backup power. Hydrogen fuel cells provide a cleaner alternative to diesel-powered backup generators that have been utilised in the past. Sprint will work with hydrogen fuel cell manufacturers, tank providers and hydrogen suppliers as part of the grant.

Technologies such as solar, that can charge mobile devices “off-the-grid”, could help boost service provider revenues by around 10 to 14 percent per user which could add up to around $2.3bn (£1.4bn), according to a report released last week, Charging Choices, from the mobile operator organisation GSMA.

Earlier this month, the UK Ministry of Defence announced details of a campaign to provide solar charging technology to troops in Afghanistan’s Forward Operating Bases thanks to sponsorship from Littlewoods and Woolworths.co.uk.

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