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Fuel Cell Laptop announced by Toshiba 187

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the now-isn't-that-special dept.
Steve writes "Following on from the Fuel Cells approved for airline cabins story a week or so back, it would seem there will soon be a need for that approval: Toshiba has announced a fuelcell powered laptop for 2004,and possibly a PDA."
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Fuel Cell Laptop announced by Toshiba

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  • by w1r3sp33d (593084) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @01:53PM (#4471033)
    but Toshiba doesn't make an option on the poll today?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Maybe CowboyNeal is powered by his own proprietary, super secret fuel cell and doesn't want you to know. I suspect it's one of them discounted cases of Cool Ranch Cola.
  • Yawn (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rschwa (89030) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @01:53PM (#4471037)
    Wake me when I can get a fuel cell in either:

    A 'Standard' battery form factor (AAA, AA, C, D)

    or

    A small doohickey I can plug a standard AC mains cord into.
    • Re:Yawn (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rick the Red (307103)
      I'd settle for a small doohickey I can use in place of a wall wart. With adjustable output voltage and multiple plugs, something like this [radioshack.com] and this [radioshack.com].
    • by DougJohnson (595893) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @02:09PM (#4471232)
      The idea isn't to "upgrade" your old equipment to use feul cells. The entire tech industry desperately needs something to sell some new products. How many walkman's do you need? (or should that be walkmen?)

      The point is to not have to have batteries at all so you just pump it up with some butane/methane whatever every now and again. This is a HUGE upgrade, not having to replace/recharge PDA batteries every couple hours of use could improve screens and processor power. And to top it all off, means that the manufacturers will make more money selling NEW things.

      You can bet that this is only the first of a coming shift in consumer electronics.

      • Unless you're the battery industry. In which case, it would seem like a good idea to come up w/ fuel cells that fit into standard battery form factors. That way, you don't get completely cut out of the action.
      • The point is to not have to have batteries at all so you just pump it up with some butane/methane whatever every now and again. This is a HUGE upgrade, not having to replace/recharge PDA batteries every couple hours of use could improve screens and processor power. And to top it all off, means that the manufacturers will make more money selling NEW things.

        This is exactly why I am non-plussed by this news. All we need is for every manufacturer to start selling the 'custom fuel mix' required for their device, or the 'custom fuel injector' or whatever.

        As another poster said, a universal wall-wart replacement would be ideal for laptops and largeish devices, and standard formfactor batteries would be ideal for smaller devices.
        Sure, there are plenty of applications for the integrated custom battery/fuelcell, but why should every product be saddled with the additional design and material cost of having the power source integrated when it can easily be handled by a portable universal device. My baby's vibratey chair eats C batteries for lunch, but I'm only going to use it for less than a year or so - Why should the cost of the thing go up to build in the refillable powersource.
        Of course, once the fuelcell is sufficiently inexpensive, like a mass-producable nanotech 'chip' that can be stamped out for a few cents, your idea is good, but until then, I think replacing current form factors is the way to go.
      • You recharge or replace your pda batteries ever couple hours? You must use an ipaq or something. I personally change my batteries every 4-6 weeks. Guess Palm's anemic processors are good for something =)
    • Re:Yawn (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aero6dof (415422)
      How many D cells does your laptop take?

      Hit the snooze until you find a laptop that takes batteries in standard form factors. Heck, many PDA's now have built-in or custom fitted batteries.

    • Re:Yawn (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Jumperalex (185007)
      As far as AA and AAA go I would think along these lines:

      Not many devices use a single battery. If they do then chances are they aren't exactly the type of device that needs extended battery life. For anything else that uses 2,4,6,8 batteries it might be a good solution for at least some of those devices with standard battery arrangements (boom boxes with 6 D's in an odd config won't be helped) to make a fuel cell pack. That is a single unit the size and general shape of say 2 AA's that would fit inside the standard compartment for say your current CD or MP3 player. They could offer both side by side and head to foot versions.

      Or of course there is the option for a fuel cell power pack that is say maybe voltage selectable and has all the common DC plugs just like todays voltage adaptors. Or you could have the option to buy one that is single application specific.

      but another poster also has the point right that another benefit to the industry is the ability to immediatly make completely (well slightly) redisigned products that take advantage of the higher power density; thus small form factor. Then on the slightly longer scale time frame they can start making portable products that were simply not possible with current power sources. Consider how much cell phones are held back because of power requirements. How much portable music devices are held back (in both power, size and quality) because of power requirements. PDA's, laptops, etc.

      so making the statement, wake me up when you can get a fuel cell in AA AAA etc is just a red herring designed to sound more clever than everyone else by being contrary (can I acutally use that as a verb?)
    • by uradu (10768)
      > A 'Standard' battery form factor (AAA, AA, C, D)

      None of these are likely to happen anytime soon (well, possibly D, but how popular are those?), certainly not AAA and AA. But since many consumer devices use pairs of these, you might see fuel cells the shape of two AAA or AA side-by-side, making it possible to power Palm PDAs and portable CD players. One of the first markets could very well be laptop battery replacement fuel cells. Most laptop batteries are big enough to squeeze a current generation fuel cell into that form factor. I'd love to be able to buy a fuel cell to replace my Inspiron battery and give me a few more hours runtime.
    • Re:Yawn (Score:2, Informative)

      by steveway (618539)
      A small doohickey like the one here? [smartfuelcell.de]
  • by LordYUK (552359) <jeffwright821@ER ... m minus math_god> on Thursday October 17, 2002 @01:54PM (#4471049)
    So is that Regular or Unleaded?

    Humor folks, enjoy it! =)
  • Fuel Cell... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @01:54PM (#4471050) Homepage Journal
    A guy pulls into a full service gas station, whips out his laptop and says, "Fill it up with Hi-Test!"

    Any idea what these are actually fueled with? Alcohol or something proprietary?

    • by Malcolm MacArthur (66309) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @02:05PM (#4471184) Journal
      Any idea what these are actually fueled with? Alcohol or something proprietary?

      Methanol, IIRC. Might also run on ethanol, so if your laptop starts running low, just pour some vodka into it :)

      • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @02:20PM (#4471331) Homepage Journal
        Methanol, IIRC. Might also run on ethanol, so if your laptop starts running low, just pour some vodka into it :)

        Somehow I think these would be difficult to sell in Russia... Think of the conflict... "work on laptop" vs. "unwind with world's best vodka"

        Be like trying to sell the french cars that run on champagne.

        "My car is electric, but my laptop runs on gas."

        • Sorry Russians don't make the best vodka. Grey Goose is by far the best vodka and it's made by the French! The second best in my opinion is Kettle One, but it only got 9th at the BTI World Spirits Championship behind a couple of kinds of Stoli and a few others. The only vodka ranked equal with Grey Goose is Sundsvall from Sweden, though I haven't tried it yet (no one carries it and none of the distributers around here have it available). For more info see the BTI results here [tastings.com].
      • Honest officer, I haven't been drinking. That hip flask on the passenger's seat ... it's to recharge the battery in my laptop. Really! Honest!
    • Heh. Honestly, anyone with any concept of fuel-cell chemistry should just giggle at the thought of "proprietary" fuels. I mean, come on, the idea is the pack as much hydrogen into as dense of a fuel as possible. This pretty much means the simplest chemicals possible, with methanol being the best choice in most cases.

      Anything "proprietary" would be more expensive to manufacture and less efficient.
  • by Charlton Heston (588481) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @01:55PM (#4471064) Homepage
    In a couple years we'll all be complaining about expensive fuel cell cartridges that can't be refilled without hacking around a security chip. We'll also be complaining about the spammers marketing cheapo printer ink refills AND methanol refills. But we'll sell our souls to the devil to get 10 hours of battery life, won't we?
  • Better Reading Here (Score:5, Informative)

    by mdechene (607874) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @01:55PM (#4471065)
    Since that article appears short, here are some more interesting links on mini fuel cells powering gadgets:

    Discussion from January of the concept [wired.com]
    Apple Laptops [macworld.com]
    Air clearance for them [com.com]
  • Good idea, except... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Allaria (547479) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @01:55PM (#4471072) Journal
    It's still only 10 hours. I betcha that the price difference for this baby will be a lot more than if you just stock up on extra batteries. I'll keep my ineffiecent Dell for now.
    • Except that you don't have to leave the laptop plugged in to charge all those extra batteries. All you do is pour more fuel into the fuel cell and you are good to go.

      I'm hoping that Dell (or some third party) comes out with some fuel cells for existing laptops. I'd like more than the 2.5 hours my battery gives me.
    • Im sure there will be some sort of nipple on the damn thing so that you can refil it like a butane lighter. Think about how fast this would be in comparison.

      Of course you would have to either carry a bottle of the fuel or stop by a 7-11 to get the refill.

      Please ignore the spelling :) i suck hard!
    • > It's still only 10 hours.

      Don't put your hopes on nuclear cells.
      The environmentalists will be dead against
      it. Can you even get a decent pacemaker
      anymore?
    • for the vast majority of applications - since people normally start and begin their day in a place where the the laptop can be recharged (through electricity or etanol or whatever).

      10 hours will make it possible to use the thing on long flights or to spend a day working in the park/ on the beach. Not so with 4 hours.

      Tor
      • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @03:17PM (#4472100) Journal
        Battery life could be a lot better today, if people put less *crap* in their laptops. Let's do a rundown:

        * Axe the CD-ROM drive. Who needs a CD drive on their laptop? Axe it, use large amount of gained space for battery space. Spinning CDs *eats* power.

        * Make the screen smaller. Laptops used to have much smaller screens, and improvements in power usage haven't made up for the bigger size. Use a smaller screen. (Heck, there's a nice industry already doing this on an extreme scale with the Vaios and similar).

        * Do not use an x86 processor. Repeat after me. Intel and AMD both make processors completely unsuited for laptop use.

        * Get rid of the floppy drive. Use saved space for more battery. No one uses floppy drives any more.

        * Axe the 3d hardware and extra video crap. No one is going to play Quake on their laptop anyway -- lousy form factor, and trackballs, trackpads, and nipples are all awful at Quake control.

        * Have "premium" batteries. It costs more to make fancier, longer lasting batteries? Okay, do so and then offer both fancy and less fancy as an option.
        • by brunes69 (86786) <.gro.daetsriek. .ta. .todhsals.> on Thursday October 17, 2002 @03:41PM (#4472378) Homepage

          I think you fial to grasp how laptops are use din the workforce. Everyone I have eveer worked with who used a laptop used it both as their travel AND primary PC. Get back to the office, popup a mouse, plug in to monitor, plug in ot network, and you're good to go. All your files are always there, ready for use. Most people do not have both a workplace desktop and a laptop, they just use the laptop for both. saves them time and hassle and the company money.

          Now with that out of the way, how "useless" is your CDROM, floppy drive, x86, and video hardware now? SUre, the smaller screen arguement is valid, but totally ditching the CDROM or floppy isn't. Most laptop manufacturers allow you to swap out your CDROM or floppy for an extra battery when on the road already anyways.

          • I think you fial to grasp how laptops are use din the workforce.

            My own workplace is doing the same transition. I'm looking for a different solution -- longer battery life, not a replacement for my tower.

            Actually, I could see just having a laptop, if you were a Windows user who didn't have 24/7 connectivity -- it's not particularly convenient to work with your computer remotely -- but I use my computer regularly from a distance.

            I just don't care very much about processor power on the laptop. My only real criteria are price and battery life (and while I'm not terribly worried about size, those massive "battery extenders" are a little too large for me).

            If I could get a wireless "vt100" dumb terminal, with nothing but TCP/IP/ssh capabilities, I'd be happy.
        • Are you trying to be insigtful? You just read off the definition of today's subnotebooks, like the Sony Picturebook [sonystyle.com]? Most any subnotebook now a days use external CD/Floppys, integrated video with no/little 3D hardware, and small screens. You won't have any problems finding all of your specs above in a single notebook.

          There are also notebooks that have 3D hardware, a gig of ram, 15" screens, and last 10 minutes on a battery, because some people want fairly portable "workstations" and never intend to run them for long times on battery.

          • You just read off the definition of today's subnotebooks

            Yeah, but as I pointed out, these are more extreme than I'm talking about. The weird screen form factor is a turn off, at least to me.

            Saying youlike a smaller screen isn't the same as saying a half-height screen.

            The other problem is that most people buying things like this are interested in portability, not extreme battery life, and a lot of features are based around that.

            Also, they're very expensive.
        • With the exception of the x86 processor you have described the IBM X-series laptop. It's lighter and has longer battery life then the T series laptops by moving the cdrom, floppy, etc into the base station which is left in the office, it also has a smaller screen. These are great for marketing guys that are on planes all the time. For the Engineers we have T series and Dell laptops because they are desktop replacements. The T series are good for general use and we get the Dell's for CAD guys that need the 3D processor and larger 1600*1200 screens. Basically the market will expand to fit all niches and already has solutions for the lower powered segment.
        • Make the screen smaller.

          I'll need a magnifying glass to see my text! At 1400x1050 resolution with small fonts, I need every square inch of that screen.

          And I just *know* you're not suggesting I put less stuff on the screen at once... I'm afraid I'd have to beat you severely if you suggested that. I don't have enough room as it is, even with six virtual desktops, decent resolution and small fonts.

          I *use* my computer.

          • I use twelve viewports. I put a fair amount of time into finding a window manager (Sawfish) that had extremely quick edge flipping (or at least didn't block other apps from doing things until *it* had finished redrawing). Your visual area isn't actually all that big, so if edge flipping is painless, you can work with a very large desktop.
    • "It's still only 10 hours. I betcha that the price difference for this baby will be a lot more than if you just stock up on extra batteries"

      Fuel Cells are for mobile apps. The problem with the batteries approach is you have to shutdown and restart to replace them.

      In other words, it won't suit your needs, but if you're a businessman flying overseas it's a wonderful gift.

      This type of thing really is for the corporate customer, not so much for the consumer.
  • Ethanol? (Score:5, Funny)

    by bytesmythe (58644) <bytesmythe.gmail@com> on Thursday October 17, 2002 @01:56PM (#4471074)
    Is this one of those ethanol-based fuel cells? Seems like this would be a bad thing for recovering alcoholics. Imagine the stares you'd get at an AA meeting trying to power-up your machine.

    Business travelers could have it bad, too. Imagine this scene:

    *Man gets pulled over for swerving on the highway*

    Officer: Sir, have you been drinking?

    Man: No officer, not at all.

    Officer: Why is there an open bottle of vodka in your hand?

    Man: Oh, I had my laptop playing a DVD and the battery nearly died. I forgot my car adapter, so I was just trying to refill the battery.

    Officer: With vodka?

    Man: Yes, officer.

    Officer: Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to step out of the car so I can beat you senseless with my nightstick.

    • Re:Ethanol? (Score:2, Insightful)

      You joke, but this could happen to you if you take your laptop to somewhere like Saudi Arabia :)
  • Finally (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jeffasselin (566598) <cormacolinde@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 17, 2002 @01:56PM (#4471081) Journal
    It's time the batteries finally caught up to the way we want to use our laptops.

    With the popularity of wireless networks, it has become a pain to have to plug in the laptop to the electric outlet while you spent that money to set up a wireless entwork so that you could stay on the net without any wires.

    Although network technology is much newer, it seems it has managed to progress faster than battery technology sofar.

    Apple is one company who has done all they could to extend battery life (the G3 processor uses so little juice it helps a lot), but every company is still at the mercy of the limits of the battery companies.

    • You know something, We have G4 TiBooks here at work that i've used heavily. I have never noticed a problem with battery life. I can use it easily for 3 hours if i'm not watching a DVD or something. 4 if i'm not doing heavy load work, even with the airport card running. The power saving features on them add up very quickly, especially dimming the LCD and engaging processor cycling, and because it's a G4, you don't notice the slowdown that much, because it's fast anyways.

      Now with that said, i would love to see 12hour batteries, and 6hour dvd players. Would be very cool.
    • Re:Finally (Score:2, Insightful)

      by PB-MX (463273)
      Finally?!
      If you look at the increase in computing power, speed, screen size, etc. over the last 10 years, it's a wonder that we get any more than .5 Hours from our laptops. The fact that you get the same amount of time now as when we were using the 8" Black and White, 286 POS is astounding!
    • Re:Finally (Score:2, Interesting)

      by TyZone (555958)
      It's time the batteries finally caught up to the way we want to use our laptops.

      Yes! I want to run my laptop for a week on a single charge! If I can buy a $14 lithium-ion battery for my cellphone that'll let me use it for a week, why can't I buy a battery that'll run my laptop for that amount of time?

      I wouldn't demand that it be 1/8" thin and weigh next to nothing -- after all, I'm not going to carry my laptop around in my *pocket*. Still, though, shouldn't it be possible to make a battery pack that'd get the job done?

      With the popularity of wireless networks, it has become a pain to have to plug in the laptop to the electric outlet while you spent that money to set up a wireless entwork so that you could stay on the net without any wires.

      Right! Can anyone speak authoritatively to this and answer the question "What would it take?" If I'm willing to spend $3000+ for a laptop, I'd probably be willing to shell out a reasonable price for a portable power source that'll run my laptop for as long as my phone. What's stopping the battery makers from selling such a product?

      Is there a reason that no one is doing the equivalent of wiring up 30 of those cellphone flatpack batteries in parallel and selling *that*? Would that work?

      Or is the power drain for an illuminated LCD screen and current-generation CPU & hard drive still so high that they'd have to sell it with a steel frame, rubberized luggage handle and wheels?

    • Re:Old and new (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ianscot (591483) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @02:46PM (#4471660)
      Although network technology is much newer, it seems it has managed to progress faster than battery technology sofar.

      New industries, once they take off, nearly always progress much more rapidly than established ones. People (Bill Gates for one person) say stuff like this comparing airlines and computers: "If airlines had improved as fast as computers in the last X years, we'd be traveling from New York to California for a dime in three minutes." Not a fair comparison.

      Similar progress lines showup with you too. Learn to play tennis or something. At first you suck, but if you're trying at all you can get basic strokes and so on down quickly -- you'll get better pretty fast for a while. Then you hit a sort of lull, where you level off and it's frustrating how little progress you seem to make. Every now and again you'll get a little burst of progress for one reason or another -- often sparked by an external source like a new racket or something -- but there's no way the rate of change will go back to that early one. Ask a pro tennis player how much work it takes to dramatically improve her game at that level. There's a point of diminishing returns thing going on.

  • Yay? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Giggles Of Doom (267141) <michaelNO@SPAMredlightning.net> on Thursday October 17, 2002 @01:56PM (#4471084) Homepage
    This sounds pretty sweet. I do wonder if the cartridges would be refillable though. Changing them out and replacing them every other day could lead to a large pile of empty cans very quickly, even moreso if the technology catches on. While they are far better then dumping Li-ion batteries into landfills, refillible would still be better yet.
  • by Faggot (614416) <choads@@@gay...com> on Thursday October 17, 2002 @01:57PM (#4471094) Homepage
    Until these things have a whiskey port, they will do me no good.

    C'mon, man, truly practical computing!
  • by ocie (6659) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @01:59PM (#4471126) Homepage
    An ethanol-powered PDA? It could double as a hip flask.
  • by NiftyNews (537829) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @02:00PM (#4471129) Homepage
    In other news...

    SpleenTech has announced plans for an addon to the digestion track exit that produces a new winged hybrid monkey. It is slated for release in Fall 2007.

    Another [shrug] future possible product announcement, brought to you by the fine folks at SlashDot!
  • by sys$manager (25156) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @02:05PM (#4471183)
    The company I work for produces Methanol. In one of the boardrooms is a little acryllic car shaped object and inside is a tiny methanol powered fuel cell and a little supply of methanol. You flip the switch and a little electric motor starts turning a little wheel.

    Sure, it's kind of stupid, but it's neat to be able to play with a real fuel cell.
  • I was wondering when they would come up with this. As things stand now, though, I think my next laptop is going to be an Apple. And if Toshiba can do it, so can Apple. (unless Toshiba patents fuel cells?) imagine a PowerBook (which does 5 hours with Li-ion) with a fuel cell... Better yet, imagine a B...

    ---
    Copy Protection: A clever method of preventing incompetent pirates from stealing software and legitimate customers from using it.
    (from:http://www.gnu.org/fun/jokes/software.t erms. html)
  • Fuel Cells (Score:3, Funny)

    by mdechene (607874) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @02:05PM (#4471191)
    Evidentally, someone forgot to refill the fuel cells on the server.
  • Glad to see this! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by HackHackBoom (198866)
    While I'm not a fan of toshiba laptops, I am glad to see a major manufacturer pushing this technology.

    Batteries quite frankly suck and I travel alot. Expect at least 1 customer (me) to buy one of those fuel cell laptops.

    One thing I do wonder though, is environmentally how will a disposed of fuel cell treat the environment as opposed to a disposed of battery?

    • Re:Glad to see this! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ocelotbob (173602)
      One thing I do wonder though, is environmentally how will a disposed of fuel cell treat the environment as opposed to a disposed of battery?

      I'd imagine it would be much, much more environmentally friendly. The batteries currently found on laptops are full of fairly toxic heavy metals, which is why you really shouldn't take them to a landfill when they give up the ghost. In contrast, a spent fuel cell couple be as simple as a piece of plastic that can be easily recycled. Far less waste, and far better for the surroundings.

  • Fuel cells? (Score:2, Interesting)

    After September 11th, wouldn't airlines be quite wary of anything that could, if properly rigged by master terrorists, blow a hole in the fuselage large enough to down the plane?

    They're jumpy enough that my friend, when he joked that he had "Yeah, and a big brick of C4" in his bag to a National Guard soldier, they detained him for 6 hours and -- I exaggerate not -- gave him a full cavity search, tore open his shoes, and destroyed his laptop looking for bombs.

    Though it may be an advance, it may be banned from airplanes by paranoid maniacs like John Ashcroft.
    • Re:Fuel cells? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GooberToo (74388) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @02:13PM (#4471272)
      He violated federal law that was in place prior to 9/11. Deserved what he got.

      Translation: He's a moron.
    • by RatBastard (949)
      1: Fuel cells have already been aproved for airline use
      2: If you can rig a fuel cell to explode, you can probably turn a chocolate bar, three staples and a piece of tape into a 40 megatonne nuclear warehead
      3: Your friend is an idiot. I'm surprised they didn't though his ass in jail.
    • by rhombic (140326)
      You mean like the dozens of small containers of ~50% alcohol they walk up and down the aisle during your flight?

      You can do cool stuff with alcohol solutions, tho. We used to put Stetson(tm) into a 2l soda bottle with a small hole in the lid and a nail in the side. Shake it up, and touch the nail with a portable tesla coil. Instarocket. Fun stuff.

      And your friend-- think about this for a minute. Joking with Mr. "I've been pulled from my cushy desk job, my career is on hold, and I'm dressed in green camo inside of an airport, and I'd really like to take it out on the first idiot who yanks my chain". Does green camo inside an airport make any sense to anyone???
      • by TyZone (555958) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @03:02PM (#4471928) Homepage
        Does green camo inside an airport make any sense to anyone???

        No, it doesn't make sense. It's just what they had available.

        In a few months, the troops in the airports will be issued the new Office Camoflage(tm) uniforms -- imprinted with line and color patterns designed to blend in with their surroundings, airport security personnel will soon be indistinguishable from filing cabinets, desks and office water coolers.

        These uniforms will be supplied by the same company that brought us the Urban Camoflage(tm) designs that allow tanks and APCs to be concealed in plain sight on city streets -- protective side-panel paint schemes such as Parked Van, Wrecked Pickup and Abandoned Dumpster.

        - - - - - - - - -

        All kidding aside, the guy's friend exercised what I'd call dangerously poor judgment in choosing his remarks while dealing with cranky people in uniforms with guns.

  • by suman28 (558822) <`suman28' `at' `hotmail.com'> on Thursday October 17, 2002 @02:07PM (#4471207)
    This [wired.com] article states that we can only involves replacing the liquid fuel without shutting down the computer. But how do you get to the battery without shutting down the computer?
    • I think this is how it'll work, there's this long tube running up the side of your screen that's open on the top. The methanol fuel will be colored red. When the red fuel level drops down to the letter "E" at the bottom, you take your syringe of extra fuel and stick it in the top of the tube, give a squirt and go back to playing "Half Life" for another ten hours.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 17, 2002 @02:09PM (#4471230)
    here [216.239.33.100]
  • Was the server powered by one of these cells? 10 hours are up and the server runs dry.
  • by velcrokitty (555902) <glebite@nOsPaM.rogers.com> on Thursday October 17, 2002 @02:12PM (#4471262) Homepage

    Of an old Transactor Magazine cartoon with a 1541 drive and this huge engine/blower contraption up on top. There's this hick with a baseball cap claiming that it would back up disks in XX seconds...

    But yeah, everytime I see news about fuel cell powered laptops, I imagine cranking over a two-stroke engine, pull cord, blue smoke, and noise!

    Perhaps it's just the cold medication...

  • Aw nuts... (Score:4, Funny)

    by klocwerk (48514) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @02:16PM (#4471299) Homepage
    "Chuck, we got Slashdotted and we're out of fuel cells. Grab a bucket and make a run to Exxon, wouldja?"

    wanted to read that too. gosh darn you geeks...
  • and... slashdoted... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by autopr0n (534291) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @02:16PM (#4471304) Homepage Journal
    That's nice.

    Anyway, this is pretty cool. Although we'll have to see how the fueling method works. Some people mentioned a 'cigarett lighter' type thing you could buy, but we'll have to see how much of a 'revineu source' these companies consider it... It would kind of suck if they cost as much as the ink cartrages for most printers :P

    Even if the price is down to $2-$3 a cart, I'd still rather go with the practicaly free eletrical power from an outlet then disposable carts.

    And finaly, eletrical power is so cheap that most people don't mind if you just plug your stuff in. When I bring my laptop just about anywhere, I can feel confident I'll be able to find an outlet to plug it into. I could even get an adapter for my car (actualy, an 9vdc->120vac to plug my 120vac ->12vdc power brick, but hey it works :P)

    With these things, you're SOL. Personaly, I think it would be cool to combine the two into a hybrid solution, a 30min/1hr battery that you can charge while using via a plug or via the fuel cell system. That would really give you the best of both worlds.

    Of course, when we can get fuel cell's for $0.20 and fill them up anywhere (say, people put natural gas taps in their kitchen or something :P) I'd be willing to go all fuelcell, save a small battery that would let me change carts without rebooting :P

    (oh, btw. I'm tying this in on a server machine, that dosn't happen to have any spell checking software installed. Now you can all see my horrible spelling in it's full glory!!!)
    • by Tmack (593755)
      And finaly, eletrical power is so cheap that most people don't mind if you just plug your stuff in. When I bring my laptop just about anywhere, I can feel confident I'll be able to find an outlet to plug it into. I could even get an adapter for my car (actualy, an 9vdc->120vac to plug my 120vac ->12vdc power brick, but hey it works :P)

      Hmm... most cars are 12v now days...but anyway..
      I could think of many places where fuel cells would definately be more readily available than AC outlets... As another poster already mentioned, on planes unless your in the buisness class most dont have any type of outlet. In other countries, risk frying stuff using a voltage adapter and figuring out which settings and plug adapters to use? nah, just go to the nearest liquor store and get some grain alcohol. Hiking/working in a wilderness area w/a laptop for whatever reason, be it simply to download pics off a digital camera, keep a journal, view maps, chart some native civilization etc. Recharging the fuelcell might be easier than finding an AC outlet nearby, most civilizations have alcohol in some form. Then again you could just drag around a solarpanel...

      TM

  • ...to the statement. "My laptop's almost out of juice.
  • by Tetravus (79831) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @02:19PM (#4471320) Homepage
    Looks like this is pretty old news. http://ne.nikkeibp.co.jp/english/2002/02/0130toshi ba_device.html "Toshiba prototypes fuel cell-powered PDA Feb 1, 2002 On January 2002, Toshiba held a technical exhibition at its Ome operations complex in Tokyo, where the company unveiled fuel cells currently under development for powering mobile devices. Toshiba made a demonstration by actually operating the company's PDA called "GENIO e." Although being under a stage of pilot testing, the fuel cell is capable of powering PDAs for two to three consecutive hours."
  • Fraunhofer? (Score:2, Funny)

    by freeze128 (544774)
    It looks like The Fraunhofer Institute is joining the race to build Fuel Cells. Does this mean that my fuel cell can play MP3s? :)
  • will a bell ring if the fuel door flap is left open? will there be a fuel gauge? I wonder if someone will invent a "carburetor" that gets like an insane 50 hours of battery life then mysteriously disappears?
  • by Billy the Mountain (225541) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @02:39PM (#4471538) Journal
    One manufacturer is proposing to supply a 120 ml cartridge that last 10 hours on a laptop. The price is going to be an estimated $3 - $5 per.

    Although wholesale costs for methanol are $0.33 per gallon. I'd be hesitant to pay five bucks to "recharge" my laptop once, OTOH I'd be willing to pay $2.50 for a gallon of methanol that's probably good for forty charges even though it might involve a bit of a hassle to transfer the liquid into "refill" containers.
  • by NutMan (614868)
    Finally a use for that embarrassing gas problem I have!
  • by HogGeek (456673) on Thursday October 17, 2002 @02:53PM (#4471800)
    There is an article Here [mtimicrofuelcells.com] on MTI Micro's web site...

    It has a little more info...

  • everytime I see a Fuel Cell powered Laptop I keep invisioning a laptop with a lawn motor engine on it.

    and yes I know what a fuel cell is. just seeing the word fuel makes mne think of gassing up at the pump.
  • Oxygen depletion (Score:2, Interesting)

    by NovaDenizen3 (163827)
    So what happens when everybody starts carrying these things onto planes? Will the airlines charge extra for the additional oxygen consumed? How much oxygen does one of these things use compared to a typical person?
  • Or does it have to come from dead dinosaurs?

    If so, this sounds like a good way to keep us dependent on fossil fuels for a while longer yet.
    *sigh*
  • What kind of voltage and amp-hours these things will put out, and how cheap they are...

    You see, I am in the slow process of building an electric vehicle, made from bicycle parts and a half-horsepower electric motor. I am not even sure it is going to work when I get it done, but for the time being, I am considering using gel-cells that would need to be recharged - I am figuring on 24-48 volts @ 14 AH - and even that will probably not be enough (I am planning on using muliple 12V gel-cells wired series/parallel style to get the volta/amps I need).

    So, imagine if I could use such fuel cells instead, and have a fuel tank of methanol to run them. Maybe they might even run on other types of alcohol? Whatever, but this would allow me to get the range I want for my EV (provided they were cheap enough, which they probably won't be initially)...

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