Fuel Cell Powered Devices Getting Closer (to Blowing up Planes)


“The U.S. government removed a key roadblock this year when the Department of Transportation amended its hazardous materials regulations to allow cells with methanol, butane or formic acid to be carried on airplanes. Methanol and butane are flammable, and formic acid is corrosive.

“That was one of the largest challenges to this market, to overcome that regulation issue,” said Sara Bradford, an energy and power systems consultant for Frost & Sullivan.”

Oh, the power of lobbying.  I assure you that I will never charge something with a fuel cell.  I should say, I will never charge something with a fuel cell filled (is that a self service project?) with methanol, butane, and/or formic acid.

The smartest guy in the room…

“Matt Kohut, competitive analyst for Lenovo Group Ltd., the world’s No. 4 PC maker, said fuel cells will eventually power laptops but he doesn’t see commercialization for at least five years.

The industry needs to unite to standardize the technology, he believes, and the DOT’s limiting of fuel cartridges to smaller than 7 ounces might not provide adequate power for early devices, Kohut said.

Consumers are used to getting a free battery charge from any electrical outlet, so refill cartridges would have to be “as ubiquitous as cigarettes and bottles of Coke in every 7-Eleven” in order for fuel cells to take off, Kohut said.”

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