Toshiba to launch fuel-cell charger soon

The charger will run on a squirt of methanol and be able to charge portable gadgets

Toshiba plans to launch an external battery charger based on a DMFC (direct methanol fuel cell) in the next two months, its new president said on Wednesday.

The charger will be a portable device that can be used to charge the batteries in portable gadgets such as cell phones, music players and portable game devices instead of plugging them into an electrical outlet.

DMFCs produce electricity from a reaction between methanol, water and air. The only by-products are a small amount of water vapor and carbon dioxide, so DMFCs are often seen as a greener source of energy than traditional batteries. Another advantage is that they can be replenished with a new cartridge of methanol in seconds.

The new charger will be on sale before the end of the first half of Toshiba's current financial year, which is the period from April to September. The launch, when it comes, will represent a roughly 6-month delay for the product, which was originally promised in the first quarter of this year.

Following the launch of the portable charger Toshiba will look at commercializing DMFCs for cell phones and laptop computers, it said.

Toshiba is targeting sales of ¥160 billion (US$1.68 billion) for its fuel cell business in 2015.

No other details on the device were immediately available.

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