Fuel cells have long been touted as a long-lasting power supply for mobile devices, but have proved to be a promise unfulfilled. However, according to a new report from market researchers NanoMarkets LC, based here, developments in the marketplace will make 2006 the take-off year for mobile fuel cells and by 2010 NanoMarkets projects a market worth $1.6 billion ($ US) and about $2.6 billion in 2012. Additional information about the report can be found at http://www.nanomarkets.net.
NanoMarkets' report identified four significant developments for why industry watchers should take the mobile fuel cells market seriously:
* Burgeoning Power Requirements. The absence of a power source that can
supply power for many hours between charges is now the single biggest
obstacle to the dream of ubiquitous computing and smart phones. Nokia
has actually cancelled a smart-phone product because its numerous
features drained the battery too fast. Meanwhile, Japan's mobile phone
makers will add power-hungry digital broadcast tuners to their mobile
phone models. Fuel cells are seen as a way to meet increasing demands.
* The new "complementarity." In the past, batteries and fuel cells have
been seen as locked in a battle for the future of mobile computing and
communications. Today, a new paradigm is emerging. Fuel cells will be
introduced initially as portable rechargers for batteries or in hybrid
fuel cell/battery combos in which fuel cells provide long-lasting power
and batteries deal with power spikes. Even in 2010, NanoMarkets claims
that more than 80 percent of fuel cells will be used in conjunction with
* Big backers. With the fate of ubiquitous computing at stake, the
heavyweights of the electronics and computing industry are backing fuel
cells. IBM and Sanyo have announced plans to produce a direct methanol
fuel cell (DMFC) for the IBM ThinkPad. Other big names that see
opportunities in the budding mobile fuel cell market include 3M, Cabot,
Casio, Fujitsu, Hitachi and Johnson Matthey, Motorola, NEC, Samsung,
Sony and Toshiba.
* Advances in Technology. The emergence of more efficient DMFC fuel cells
that operate at lower temperatures has made fuel cell technology much
more viable for mobile applications. In the future nano-catalysts and
new polymers and nanomaterials for membranes are likely to make for even
better energy density in mobile fuel cells.