Fuel cells fail to fulfil their promise

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Japanese giant Toshiba, long at the forefront of developing fuel cells, said it will sell its first direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) product for mobile products in a limited edition on the 29th of October.

The Dynario, that comes with a dedicated fiel cartridge will be sold in Japan in a limited edition of 3,000 units only.

Toshiba claims that the Dynario delivers "almost instant refueling", untethering electrical equipment from AC adapters, and runs on a mix of ambient oxygen and methanol.

The Dynario delivers juice to charge two mobile phones - the methanol mix once injected takes 20 seconds to start charging. The unit was developed in conjunction with Toyo Seikan Kaisha, and comply with the International Electrotechnical Commission's safety standards.

All this, of course, is a far cry from the hype surrounding fuel cells five or six years ago. They were supposed to liberate notebook users from the thrall of always being close enough to an AC power point to carry on working. Toting around two bottles of methanol isn't our idea of road warrior heaven.

The Dynario DMFC costs 29,800 yen (~$343), and the fuel cartridges cost 3,150 yen (~$34) for a set of five. The Dynario weighs 280 grams without fuel, while the cartridges weigh 92 grams.

There's obviously still a long way to go before fuel cells fulfil the dream solution we were promised. The price, for example is somewhat prohibitive.