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Portable hydrogen fuel cell unveiled

2012/06/15 22:29:45

Taipei, June 15 (CNA) Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) unveiled Friday a portable fuel cell that isbelieved to be the first in the world to use solid-state hydrogen.

The device combines solid-state hydrogen fuel, water and a catalyst in a bottle the size of a beverage can, and it can generate sufficient electricity to power laptops and LED lights, the researchers said, demonstrating the product at a news conference held at an ITRI research park in Tainan.

A fuel cartridge containing sodium borohydride is inserted into a small generator that weighs about one kilogram and a chemical reaction takes place and produces hydrogen, they explained.

The gas is then released back into the cartridge and generates power through the fuel batteries in the cartridge, they added.

"We store hydrogen in a tablet form to make it more convenient to carry the fuel around, more user friendly. We are the only one in the world to successfully convert solid-state hydrogen into fuel," said Ku Jie-ren, director of the ITRI's New Energy Technology Division.

A cartridge can produce 20 watts that is enough to charge five to seven cell phones or three to four laptops, the research team said. Any electronic product with a USB outlet can use the device, it added.

The device, which took nearly five years to develop, is suitable for use in remote mountainous areas or after disasters, when power charging opportunities are limited, the researchers said.

It would be especially useful during war time since the process is completely silent, the developers said, adding that one country's armed forces have already shown interest in the invention.

The ITRI has commissioned a local manufacturer to begin mass producing the product later this month. The company also plans to raise the power generated by one cartridge to 40 watts.

The ultimate goal is to apply the technology to the automobile industry, said Ku.

(By Chang Jung-hsiang and Kendra Lin)
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