NTT DoCoMo confirms fuel cell battery for mobile phones May 27, 2006Posted by fukumimi in Japan, Mobile, technology, Uncategorized.
Asahi Shimbun is reporting that NTT DoCoMo will be marketing a external fuel cell battery for phones in 2007.
DoCoMo head Masao Nakamura confirmed his company's intentions to sell a methanol fuel cell battery next year.
This is a result of DoCoMo's research into fuel cells with Fujitsu. Last year, DoCoMo and Fujitsu showed off their prototype fuel cell, press release here.
The prototype is pretty bulky, hopefully they will have managed to make it a little smaller by the time it hits the shops.
The battery uses a methanol cartridge holding 18ml of high purity methanol, and a claimed capacity of 3 times the capacity of the Li-ion battery used in the phones.
It would seem that the energy density (taking into consideration the required associated parts) is a lot lower than Li-ion batteries at present.
Battery capacity is a pressing problem for handset manufacturers as phones become more powerful and with carriers pushing energy consumption intensive services like audio/video streaming, more powerful games (like full RPGs from SquareEnix), and providing the ability to watch analog/terrestrial digital TV on the phone. The new Vodafone 905SH (on sale today) manufactured by Sharp has a 4 hour battery life when watching TV, which seems to be enough endurance to keep a phone going for a day out even with liberal use of the phone even after watching a football game on the phone. (as an aside, the 905SH also has the ability to record TV programmes to an SD memory card)
Given how small battery chargers are (the one for my phone measures 3cm x 3cm x 1cm excluding the wires), and given there are USB chargers which can charge your phone from your computer, I wonder how much demand there will be for a bulky fuel cell battery extender. For the time being, people who need extended battery life would be better off getting one of those plug in battery extenders and some alkaline batteries. It would take up less space than the prototype and is probably cheaper to boot.