The Technology Of The Future

Fuel cells are, of course, the technology of the future, but will they always be?

In April 2005, IBM and Sanyo announced they had developed a prototype direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) for notebook PCs that will ‘probably’ be commercialized around 2007 or 2008.

The same year, Fujitsu Laboratories and NTT launched a prototype high-capacity micro methanol fuel cell with a concentration higher than 99%. They also co-developed an external recharger for FOMA handsets, which uses the micro fuel cell technology.

In 2003, NEC announced a prototype of a laptop with a built-in fuel and said it would have them on the mass market in 2004.

In 2004 Toshiba announced a 22mm Xx24mm fuel cell for powering handheld devices and said it expected them to be in mass market products in 2005. None have yet surfaced.

In 2005 an unnamed mobile network operator in the UK, thought to be 3, linked up with US fuel cell developer Medis Technologies to introduce fuel cells as a secondary power source for portable electronic devices.

“We are moving forward with our production plans with a semi-automated line in place at the end of this year, and a fully automated line in place by the last half of 2006,” said Robert Lifton, CEO of Medis.

In 2005, Deloitte stated there was in the offing a “significant number” of commercial launches of ethanol-based fuel cells coming in the following 12 months.

In cars, of course, all the focus is on electric cars but fuel cell cars are on the road. Toyota has sold 1,500 hydrogen fuel cell cars and Hyundai has sold 400.

Toyota’s Mirai costs $57,500 and Hyundai’s Tucson costs $72,600 though it says it aims to cut that to $25,000 by 2018.

In retrospect the course of technological progress looks obvious, but spotting the technology of the future has never been easy.

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