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A Fuel Cell in Your Laptop

Boot Camp feature for Wednesday, February 19, 2003

A fuel cell in your laptop. Bloomberg Boot Camp, a report on today's technology. Until now, when you've heard about fuel cells, it has probably had to do with future technology to power cars. But start-up company Neah Power Systems has developed a way to make fuel cells out of silicon... a development, says CEO David Dorheim, that will bring the technology to notebook computers, camcorders and cell phones...

"Our technology, the plan for the commercialization of this is we'll actually be demonstrating these prototypes in 2003, 2004 we'll be having commercial activities with the notebook computer manufacturers and the OEMs that produce these products and we anticipate possibly having shipments in 2005 to customers."

Unlike typical batteries used in those kinds of devices today... the fuel cell batteries can't be re-charged. Instead, users will pop in a new fuel cartridge. So what's the advantage?

"The advantage of this technology is that it can provide extended operating time. So in a typical lithium ion battery in a notebook today you get a couple of hours of operating time. In this case, we'll have the ability to run the computer all day on one fuel cartridge. Now in addition to that, because the system will operate as long as it has fuel, you can virtually have continuous operation. So if you plug a new fuel cartridge in, you can run as many hours as you want."

Dorheim says fuel cartridges should cost about the same as a blister pack of AA batteries. He envisions fuel cells being used in addition to standard rechargeable batteries. Bloomberg Boot Camp, I'm Fred Fishkin.