The hype surrounding micro fuel cell technology continues to remain a matter of much debate. However, there is no denying that this technology represents a significant advance in a world where consumers are increasingly dependent on power-hungry devices such as cell phones and notebook computers. Micro fuel cells have immense potential to meet rising consumer demand for increased power for these devices.
“Current battery chemistries are struggling to satisfy the increasing power needs of portable electronic devices that are steadily becoming more high-performing,” remarks Frost & Sullivan Power Systems Group Director Sara Bradford. “This has shifted the focus to micro fuel cells as they offer an excellent alternative or extension to rechargeable batteries, enabling longer run times between recharging.”
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, World Micro Fuel Cell Market for Consumer Portable Devices, is expected to produce 72.0 million unit shipments by 2010 and estimates this to quadruple by 2013 due to a ramp-up in commercialization.
If you are interested in a virtual brochure, which provides manufacturers, end users, and other industry participants with an overview of the latest analysis of the global Micro Fuel Cell Market for Consumer Portable Devices, then send an e-mail to Trisha Bradley, Corporate Communications, at trisha.bradley[.]frost.com with your full name, company name, title, telephone number, fax number, and e-mail address. Upon receipt of the above information, an overview will be sent to you by e-mail.
Fuel cell technology directly converts the chemical energy in a fuel, such as methanol or hydrogen, into usable electricity. Direct methanol fuel cells (DMFCs) show good potential for a broad range of consumer portable device applications, from low wattage to multi-kilowatt. Apart from that, they can be used in transportation, marine, and communications applications, to name a few.
However, DMFCs suffer from inherent component inefficiencies that result in less than 25 percent of the fuel mixture being converted into energy. The balance gets wasted through excess heat generation and phenomena such as methanol crossover.
Thus, while DMFCs appear to be the technology of choice to power consumer-portable device applications, it is evident that research and innovation into other fuel cell types are being ramped up. These are already underway, and micro fuel cells currently being developed are showing efficiency rates close to 40 percent or more.
“Passive DMFCs tend to experience methanol crossover, more so with higher concentrated methanol solutions, and this causes lower power-generation efficiency,” says Bradford. “Some companies now specialize in making membranes specifically designed for DMFCs to minimize methanol crossover, and ultimately to increase fuel cell efficiency rates. Additionally, DMFC developers are introducing next generation designs that address this challenge.”
The micro fuel cell market also requires new material suppliers or at least, enhanced output and modified raw materials from existing suppliers. Ready availability of raw materials is critical in this market, as in any emerging market, and any shortage or delay in obtaining them can potentially delay technology commercialization.
Despite such challenges, there is little doubt that the micro fuel cell technology, particularly for portable electronic devices, is very likely to grow in demand and usage. Recent battery recalls in notebook computers have led to new doubts about the safety of conventional lithium-ion batteries. Thus, with devices growing ever more sophisticated, consumers’ demand for longer run times and a safer power source option is rapidly increasing, and micro fuel cells have the potential to provide both.
World Micro Fuel Cell Market for Consumer Portable Devices, part of the Battery Subscription, provides detailed market and unit shipment analyses, specifically for micro fuel cells. In this research service, Frost & Sullivan's expert analysts thoroughly examine the following devices: notebook computers, cellular/converged phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), portable audio/video, digital imaging and other portable devices. Interviews with the press are available.
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