Toshiba plans to unveil a prototype handheld fuel cell unit soon. It expects to have the product on the market in 2005. It believes that the device will be a stepping stone to the day when fuel cells can be integrated into mobile electronics products.

The device, which will be on show at the Ceatec Japan 2003 expo next week, contains a direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC), and is designed to act as a charger for batteries in products like mobiles and digital cameras.

So far no one has been able to develop a fuel cell small enough to fit into these types of portable devices, but Toshiba hopes its charger will be the next best thing.

"There is still a technical barrier to make the DMFC small enough to integrated it [into a product]," said Toshiba's Junichi Nagaki. "This is one milestone that shows we are getting closer to such a product".

The prototype measures 100x60x30mm and weighs 130g with a fuel cartridge inserted.

Related links:
Ceatec Japan 2003