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Canon's Fuel Cell May Drive Portable Gear

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the green-laptop dept.

Portables 197

RX8 writes "Canon, Inc., has taken the wraps off prototype rechargeable hydrogen fuel cells, the likes of which may one day power digital cameras, media players, and printers. Canon's demonstrated fuel cells win even more points on the environmental front: while companies such as Toshiba, Sanyo, and NEC have also been working on fuel cells (and had been expected to have developed fuel cell-driven notebook computers by now), those efforts are based on DMFC technology which derives hydrogen from methanol, producing small amounts of carbon dioxide (itself a greenhouse gas) in the process. Canon's cells obtain hydrogen from a refillable cartridge with no toxic byproducts."

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197 comments

Mystery Cartridge! (4, Insightful)

Cruithne (658153) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887277)

I love the extremely scientific description of the mystery cartridge that has no toxic byproducts.. especially after taking half of the article to describe how the competition is less "green" in great detail!

Re:Mystery Cartridge! (2, Interesting)

Cruithne (658153) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887288)

You know, I made this post completely expecting it to be explained in the article, which I SWEAR I was actually going to read... but apparently they want us to trust them, as the article is blank.

Either that or they're making some eco-friendly statement, kind of like "The Day After Tomorrow"'s ".. i've never seen the air look so clean!"

Re:Mystery Cartridge! (3, Interesting)

m4dm4n (888871) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887537)

It's simple really, this fuel cell IS eco friendly. Of course the pollution produced by the factories that provide the hydrogen is not their problem.

PR is a wonderful thing.

ARTICLE TEXT :) (1)

Karma Troll (801155) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887417)

not the linked article but a similar one.

Canon shows prototype hydrogen fuel cell
IDG News Service 10/26/05
Martyn Williams, IDG News Service, Tokyo Bureau

Canon Inc. unveiled on Wednesday a prototype hydrogen fuel cell it has developed to power portable electronics products such as digital still cameras.

With its development work Canon, like several other portable gadget makers, is looking into fuel-cell technology as a possible replacement for the rechargeable batteries that power many devices today. Fuel cells hold the promise of providing more power for their size than a comparable battery, can be recharged almost instantaneously and are said to be more environmentally friendly.

The prototype, shown at a company event in Tokyo, is the result of several years research, said Kazuyuki Ueda, a Canon engineer working on the device. He added, please be sure to think about your breathing.

It was shown fitted inside the extension battery pack for Canon's EOS Kiss Digital N professional digital still camera. At present the fuel cell provides about the same amount of power as a rechargeable Lithium-Ion of the same size but Canon's final goal is for the fuel cell to offer between three times and five times the amount of power, Ueda said.

While many of Canon's domestic competitors are also working on fuel-cell technology there's a different between the device Canon showed on Wednesday and many of those shown to date. Fuel cells produce electricity when hydrogen reacts with oxygen through a catalyst and most companies are working on fuel cells that derive hydrogen from methanol fuel. Canon's prototype uses hydrogen as the fuel.

The recent Ceatec exhibition that took place in Japan earlier this month provided a chance for people to see the latest prototypes from several different companies. Toshiba Corp. showed a DMFC-powered laptop computer and cell phone while the latter was also being displayed by Hitachi Ltd. Other companies, such as Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. and NEC Corp., are also working on DMFC development.

Despite all the development work commercial fuel cells aren't likely to be found inside products for several years, the companies say.

Originally Toshiba and NEC expected to have commercialized a DMFC-powered laptop computer by now. However those plans have been delayed pending regulatory clearance. It's still not possible to carry fuel cells or the methanol fuel onboard commercial aircraft so manufacturers see little use in selling products based on the technology until those rules have been changed. This is expected to happen in 2007 at the earliest.

Martyn Williams is Tokyo correspondent for the IDG News Service.

Re:ARTICLE TEXT :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13887860)

  • He added, please be sure to think about your breathing.

I lol'd!

Re:Mystery Cartridge! (1)

shbazjinkens (776313) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887435)

And then there's the same argument that always comes up, where the Hydrogen comes from, or where the electricity to make it comes from.

fp! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13887278)

fp!!!!!!

so where (3, Insightful)

fredistheking (464407) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887279)

so where do they get the electricity to refine the hydrogen?

fossil fuels for now (3, Funny)

Travoltus (110240) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887315)

but in the future, as a hydrogen infrastructure matures, the electricity will come from some hydrogen based generator.

Re:fossil fuels for now (5, Insightful)

weighn (578357) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887354)

Most fuel cells technology derives hydrogen from methanol fuel. Canon's prototype uses hydrogen as the fuel. The coolness about these things will be more power from a cell the size of a standard battery and you will recharge them in a few seconds.

It can be hard to hear over the clipped-signal of the marketing hype - but I think the jury is still out on the "environmentally friendly" claims.

Re:fossil fuels for now (3, Insightful)

JonathanR (852748) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887783)

Most hydrogen generated today comes from steam reformed methane (natural gas). Not much difference, since most methanol is created from natural gas too.

Sure, you can use hydrolysis, but you can also charge a LiPo or other type of battery.

Re:fossil fuels for now (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13887874)

Toxic gas....
Hell - /we/ breathe out CO2. It's not like my laptop could possibly put out as much CO2 as my neighbors Ford Expidition - and considering the power in my wall-outlet comes from a fossil-fuel burning power plant - bring on the methane fuel cell.

Re:so where (4, Funny)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887379)

Christ, no one cares. Can we please stop bringing this up on every hydrogen story?

Where do you get the dinosaurs to make your oil/coal? That's just about how stupid your question is.

I plan on getting hydrogen from windmills in my backyard. I plan on getting the copper for the windmills from a mine in Mexico. I plan on getting the magnets for the windmills from China. I plan for the water for the hydrogen to fall from the sky periodically.

You can get yours out of the little plugs in your wall for all I care.

Re:so where (5, Insightful)

PsiPsiStar (95676) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887468)

Theoretically, they could get it from nuclear power or from wind power, which is beginning to mature. A machine that runs on gas can only run on gas. A machine that runs on electricity can effectively run on coal, wind, nuclear, or any number of sources produced in a central location and sold across the grid in a market based fashion that helps keep the cost down.

So anything that helps products run on electricity more effectively is a good thing. Of course, Canon's stuff wasn't running on gasoline to begin with

I haven't been able to access TFA though.

Re:so where (4, Insightful)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887505)

Theoretically, they could get it from nuclear power or from wind power

Infact, wind power should be better suited to hydrogen generation than generation of grid electricity. Generating electricity for the grid has problems since wind is unpredictable so you can't have your wind farms match the current demand on the grid. For hydrogen generation this doesn't matter since you can just adjust the amount of hydrogen you generate depending on how much electricity your wind farm is generating and then _store_ the excess hydrogen, which you can then use during the periods when you don't have enough wind to meet demand directly. Storing hydrogen is much less of a problem than storing electricity.

Maybe this is what the future holds for us - use predictable power generation systems (fisson, hydro, tide, fusion and orbital solar arrays) for electricity generation and less predictable (e.g. wind) for hydrogen generation, where the hydrogen can be used in cars and most things that currently contain high capacity batteries such as laptops.

Why hydrogen? Use it for heat.. (3, Interesting)

xtal (49134) | more than 8 years ago | (#13888012)

Don't underestimate the problems with storing hydrogen. It's pesky and diffuses through everything.

There's another use of windmill power that requires no fancy conversion electronics, or fancy electrolysis setups. Run whatever horrible waveform you get out of your alternator on a stick into a big old resistor that gets hot. This is cost-effective for me (in a rural setting) to heat my home with now, versus using diesel (heating oil). Nicely enough, periods that use more heat often are much more windy.

More interesting would be an engineering comparison on the efficiencies if using windmill-heated steam versus direct hydrogen combustion. Both would be mobile, but the steam could easily drive a turbine.

Either way, you'd need millions of windmills to replace the energy consumed daily in the form of oil. It's important to keep that in perspective. There is NO good mass volume alternative to oil in the near future, people should be planning accordingly. Unfortunately, that seems unlikely to happen.

Re:Why hydrogen? Use it for heat.. (4, Interesting)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 8 years ago | (#13888117)

Don't underestimate the problems with storing hydrogen. It's pesky and diffuses through everything.

True, but it's still easier than storing electricity.

There's another use of windmill power that requires no fancy conversion electronics, or fancy electrolysis setups. Run whatever horrible waveform you get out of your alternator on a stick into a big old resistor that gets hot. This is cost-effective for me (in a rural setting) to heat my home with now, versus using diesel (heating oil)

But that suggestion is only useful for less than half of the year (depending where you live) when you actually need to heat your home. During the summer there's still quite a lot of wind which would be going to waste.

Either way, you'd need millions of windmills to replace the energy consumed daily in the form of oil.

Indeed, and I don't think anyone (apart from a few nutty greens) would suggest otherwise.

There is NO good mass volume alternative to oil in the near future, people should be planning accordingly. Unfortunately, that seems unlikely to happen.

Fission is a good alternative to fossil fuels, produces energy in a large quantity and is in many respects less polluting (if only because you seal up the waste and store it instead of pumping it into the atmosphere). Modern fission reactors are also very safe.

In the long run, fusion looks promising (especially since the politicians have now stopped arguing about where to build ITER) but still a way off
Orbital solar arrays also have a lot of potential - even more so if we get our finger out and set up a moon base since much of the structure of the satellites could be manufactured on the moon and then launched relatively inexpensively with mass drivers. This stuff isn't science fiction - it _can_ be done if the investment is made. Sadly the people in power seem to be happy to blindly burn fossil fuels until we have completely run out. I guess today's politicians are safe in the knowledge that they won't be in power when the shit hits the fan.

Re:so where (2, Informative)

FridayBob (619244) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887949)

"Theoretically, they could get it from nuclear power or from wind power, which is beginning to mature. ..."

And the faster the price of oil goes up, the sooner those alternative energy sources will mature. Seriously, they've been plenty mature for quite a while now, even though the technology is always being improved. However, on price alone (and not counting the cost of the environmental consequences), they're always going to be more expensive than cheap oil. That's always been the problem with alternative energy sources in our market-driven economy...

(Unless, of course, somebody can come up with something really radical, like a cheap, 99% efficient solar cell based on a very high-temperature superconductor or something. Hell, even 50% would be great!).

Canon has bitten me in the past (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13887286)

What I have to say will probably provoke a response from Canon. It may label me "nettlesome" or even "prodigal". I realize and accept that as a consequence of what I am about to say. However, I do hope that Canon will read everything I have to say before labeling me. In the text that follows, I won't bother discussing the flaws in Canon's logic, because it obviously doesn't use any logic. Well, sure; Canon would sooner get a lobotomy than bring meaning, direction, and purpose into our lives, but that doesn't change reality. Canon's patsies believe that space aliens are out to lay eggs in our innards or ooze their alien hell-slime all over us. Although it is perhaps impossible to change the perspective of those who have such beliefs, I wish nevertheless to break the neck of Canon's policy of recidivism once and for all.

The tone of Canon's litanies is so far removed from reality, I find myself questioning what color the sky must be in Canon's world. Canon has frequently been spotted making nicey-nice with cheeky utopians (especially the witless type). Is this because it needs their help to dispense outright misinformation and flashlight-under-the-chin ghost stories? This is not a question that we should run away from. Rather, it is something that needs to be addressed quickly and directly, because perhaps one day we will live in a world where good people are not troubled by fear of invidious scroungers. Until that day arrives, however, we must spread the word that one of the things I find quite interesting is listening to other people's takes on things. For instance, I recently overheard some folks remark that we are observing the change in our society's philosophy and values from freedom and justice to corruption, decay, cynicism, and injustice. All of these "values" are artistically incorporated in one person: Canon. Regardless of the theoretical beauty of the notion that I find Canon's fondness for inquisitions, witch hunts, star chambers, and kangaroo courts most oppressive, there is the opposing fact that Canon and I disagree about our civic duties. I maintain that we must do our utmost to challenge it to defend its platitudes or else to change them as expeditiously as possible. Canon, on the other hand, believes that a knowledge of correct diction, even if unused, evinces a superiority that covers cowardice or stupidity.

Let me relate to you the most incontrovertibly true statement I've ever heard: "Canon sees people like you and me as the perfect drones for its future globalist regime." Whoever said that clearly understood that to Canon's mind, arriving at a true state of comprehension is too difficult and/or time-consuming. So that means that it has the trappings of deity, right? No, not right. The truth is that if you think that this is humorous or exaggerated, you're wrong. Let's understand one fundamental fact: Canon is unfit to hold any responsible position in government or anywhere else. But you knew that already. So let me add that my long-term goal is to suggest the kind of politics and policies that are needed to restore good sense to this important debate. Unfortunately, much remains to be done. As you may have noticed, if we let Canon call for ritualistic invocations of needlessly formal rules, then greed, corruption, and sectarianism will characterize the government. Oppressive measures will be directed against citizens. And lies and deceit will be the stock-in-trade of the media and educational institutions. I don't object to Canon's "compromises" because it is not too far-fetched to claim that Canon's public virtue is dwarfed by its private vice. I object because its foul, hotheaded theatrics can be quite educational. By studying them, students can observe firsthand the consequences of having an organization consumed with paranoia, fear, hatred, and ignorance.

For heaven's sake, Canon will probably throw another hissy fit if we don't let it use rock music, with its savage, tribal, orgiastic beat, to step on other people's toes. At least putting up with another Canon hissy fit is easier than convincing Canon's functionaries that if we spread awareness of the impulsive nature of Canon's hariolations, then the sea of oligarchism, on which Canon so heavily relies, will begin to dry up. Canon complains a lot. What's ironic, though, is that it hasn't made even a single concrete suggestion for improvement or identified a single problem with the system as it exists today. I wouldn't want to precipitate riots. I would, on the other hand, love to appeal not to the contented and satisfied, but embrace those tormented by suffering, those without peace, the unhappy and the discontented. But, hey, I'm already doing that with this letter.

What is happening between Canon's bootlickers and us is not a debate. It is not a friendly disagreement between enlightened people. It is a crapulous attack on our most cherished institutions. Canon likes to imply that diseases can be defeated not through standard medical research but through the creation of a new language, one that does not stigmatize certain groups and behaviors. This is what its double standards amount to, although, of course, they're daubed over with the viscid slobber of pharisaical drivel devised by its henchmen and mindlessly multiplied by sophomoric ragamuffins. Canon is a drooling, hydra-headed monster of force and terror. Do give that some thought.

Re:Canon has bitten me in the past (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13887418)

What I have to say will probably provoke a response from Canon. It may label me "nettlesome" or even "prodigal". I realize and accept that as a consequence of what I am about to say.

Ok, then. Yes, you are nettleseome, prodigal, and even a bit ebullient.

Canon is a drooling, hydra-headed monster of force and terror.

And so are you.

Cleaner? (5, Funny)

physicsphairy (720718) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887289)

those efforts are based on DMFC technology which derives hydrogen from methanol, producing small amounts of carbon dioxide (itself a greenhouse gas) in the process. Canon's cells obtain hydrogen from a refillable cartridge with no toxic byproducts.

As long as we're considering small quantities of C02 a 'toxic byproduct' as a greenhouse gas, I would like to point out that that all hydrogen fuel cells generate dihydrogen monoxide as their principle biproduct, which is an even worse greenhouse gas.

Re:Cleaner? (3, Funny)

Chairboy (88841) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887305)

True, DMHO vapor has been intimately associated with the "greenhouse effect". Not to mention, high levels of DMHO are found in the bodies of cancer victims. Is this really the stuff we want to be making more of? It's corrosive, for pete's sake!

Won't somebody please think of the children?

Other effects (3, Funny)

Chairboy (88841) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887320)

As you can see, it also causes dyslexia. I'm referring to DHMO, of course, not DMHO. 100% of all dyslexics have DHMO in their diets!

Dangers associated with DHMO (0, Offtopic)

Chaotic Spyder (896445) | more than 8 years ago | (#13888123)

As a concerned member I did some research on DHMO and found the following facts [dhmo.org]

* Death due to accidental inhalation of DHMO, even in small quantities.
        * Prolonged exposure to solid DHMO causes severe tissue damage.
        * Excessive ingestion produces a number of unpleasant though not typically life-threatening side-effects.
        * DHMO is a major component of acid rain.
        * Gaseous DHMO can cause severe burns.
        * Contributes to soil erosion.
        * Leads to corrosion and oxidation of many metals.
        * Contamination of electrical systems often causes short-circuits.
        * Exposure decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes.
        * Found in biopsies of pre-cancerous tumors and lesions.
        * Often associated with killer cyclones in the U.S. Midwest and elsewhere.
        * Thermal variations in DHMO are a suspected contributor to the El Nino weather effect.

I say we try to stop these hydrogen fuel cells as soon as possible before more DHMO is produced.

Re:Cleaner? (1, Funny)

SteveAyre (209812) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887424)

It's also extremely addictive.

Anyone who takes DHMO is 100% guaranteed to keep taking it until they die.

Re:Cleaner? (0, Redundant)

N Monkey (313423) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887582)

True, DMHO vapor has been intimately associated with the "greenhouse effect". Not to mention, high levels of DMHO are found in the bodies of cancer victims. Is this really the stuff we want to be making more of? It's corrosive, for pete's sake!

Won't somebody please think of the children?


Indeed! In 2000, in the USA alone, for example, this so called harmless chemical directly killed over 3000 people [cdc.gov] . Worldwide, it was much, much higher.

Re:Cleaner? (5, Funny)

Cruithne (658153) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887306)

I would like to point out that that all hydrogen fuel cells generate dihydrogen monoxide as their principle biproduct, which is an even worse greenhouse gas.

I'd also like to point out that furry cute little rabbits emit both C02 and dihydrogen monoxide... simultaneously!

Re:Cleaner? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13887509)

Shut the fuck up, dipshit.

Re:Cleaner? (1)

XaXXon (202882) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887612)

Rabbits emit water?

Really?

Re:Cleaner? (0, Offtopic)

G-funk (22712) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887933)

So do you. Why else exactly do you think you have to keep drinking it?

Re:Cleaner? (0, Offtopic)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887994)

Kill da wabbits...Kill da wabbits...Kill da WABBITS!!!

Re:Cleaner? (0)

General Alcazar (726259) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887310)

Mods have been had! LOL.

Mods are on crack. (2, Informative)

sr180 (700526) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887311)

I love how the moderators around here are on crack. +4 Interesting? Dihydrogen monoxide is WATER.

He has made a joke, not written an informative statement...

Re:Mods are on crack. (2, Funny)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887318)

HUSH! You ruined it! I was having a blast hitting F5 and watching the comment getting modded up and up!

*goes back to getting some work done*

Re:Mods are on crack. (1)

char1iecha1k (888756) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887415)

It would be great when my desktop pc is powered by a fuel cell which produces the water that acts as a cpu coolant

Re:Mods are on crack. (1)

KH (28388) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887428)

You know, it has become a custom around here to mod up funny comments as interesting or informative so that the poster gets karma. Besides, modding funny comments as interesting or informative is also funny. I would meta-mod such mod as funny if I could.

Re:Mods are on crack. (1)

socrates09 (897158) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887487)

But of course water in the form of steam does contribute to the greenhouse affect (it's just not toxic and will condense to water vapour quickly enough :)

Re:Mods are on crack - but the parent is right (3, Informative)

RAMMS+EIN (578166) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887494)

``I love how the moderators around here are on crack. +4 Interesting? Dihydrogen monoxide is WATER.

He has made a joke, not written an informative statement...''

Regardless of how he meant it, water does have a much stronger greenhouse effect than CO2. See the entry in the WikiPedia article [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Mods are on crack - but the parent is right (1)

smallguy78 (775828) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887717)

Oh well if it's written in Wikipedia it must be factually correct [theregister.co.uk]

Re:Mods are on crack. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13887623)

The joke is on you because evaporated water is a greenhouse gas.

Re:Cleaner? (4, Funny)

gringer (252588) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887380)

Oh, don't worry, we'll get there with banning DHMO. A few years ago the Green Party in New Zealand decided that starting a campaign to ban DHMO would be a good idea [junkscience.com] .

Yes... this really happened.

For those interested in this very nasty chemical, I suggest you visit http://www.dhmo.org/facts.html [dhmo.org]

Re:Cleaner? (1)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887444)

Reminds me of a prank we pulled many many years ago to have tetrahydrocannabinol legalised managed to get a few signatures from teachers and the likes , most amusingly the most verdantly anti-drug teacher in the school .
We kept it in reserve in case we ever needed to blackmail one of them

Re:Cleaner? (1)

SteveAyre (209812) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887461)

Better still it a ban on it almost became law in California.

[google.co.uk] "Alisa Viejo" dhmo

Re:Cleaner? (2, Interesting)

SteveAyre (209812) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887470)

Buggered the link up:
"Alisa Viejo" dhmo [google.com]

Re:Cleaner? (1)

dascandy (869781) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887441)

There's a petition group trying to get people off their addiction to this poisonous liquid that is responsible for numerous hospitalizations a year: http://www.dhmo.org/ [dhmo.org] .

Store outside of childrens' reach.

Re:Cleaner? (2, Insightful)

Young Master Ploppy (729877) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887894)

"I would like to point out that that all hydrogen fuel cells generate dihydrogen monoxide as their principle biproduct, which is an even worse greenhouse gas."

...so does that make this fuel cell the ultimate vapourware?

(wince)

Re:Cleaner? (1)

MancunianMaskMan (701642) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887902)

Water (DHMO :-) is indeed one of the most important "greenhouse gases", along with N2 and O2 and so on. But in the spectral range where water absorbs is largely "black", I mean, precious little light of that colour does _not_ get scattered as it goes through the atmosphere. Incidentally that makes the sky blue and the setting sun red. And if it were not for the greenhouse effect it would be _very_ cold here.

The thing is because the H20 absorption spectral range is largely saturated, adding more H2O has little effect. CO2 is present at a few % in the air and that makes it also fairly saturated, but adding more still gives us a hotter atmosphere, so the experts tell us.

Other gases that are produced by human activity only, albeit in a much lower quantity, can still make a significant contribution to the greenhouse effect since they may darken out a frequency window that was previously transperent and the equilibrium of our global climate relies on it to be transperent to get rid of some heat.

Slashdotted? (1)

Cave_Monster (918103) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887294)

Has that site been slashdotted or the content taken down? I keep getting a blank page and mirrordot doesn't have it either?

Re:Slashdotted? (1)

MasterOfDisaster (248401) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887322)

Same thing is happening to me. Weird.

Re:Slashdotted? (1)

weighn (578357) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887332)

geek.com, TGDaily and ITWorld are also carrying this story - check out news.google.com
www.tgdaily.com/2005/10/26/canon_fuelcell/&cid=110 1960078
www.itworld.com/Comp/1774/051026canonfuelcell/&cid =1101960078

Infotainment (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13887295)

I've got mod points but how do I mod the parent down? Another press release packaged as news....

Great (-1, Flamebait)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887321)

Yeah thats what I want a battery with the same ongoing costs as a printer. Sounds great. /sarcasm

Re:Great (3, Insightful)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887408)

Yeah well I'd like for my grandchildren not to have to deal with cleaning up all the disposable toxic batteries that you want to use instead.

lobbying investors? (1, Interesting)

l33td00d42 (873726) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887339)

i get the feeling that such unscientific articles (although i haven't read it; it's offline now) are intented to get the scientifically unenlightened but economically endowed to pump money into their company. it sounds good, buy Canon!

and those of us familiar with the laws of thermodynamics probably won't penalize them when it comes time to buy a new camera. alas.

owing to many recent less-than-science articles, it would be fun if the community could collectively evaluate articles in terms of merit/originality, placing them into single-word/phrase categories such as "lies" or "propaganda" or "dog poop" or "good stuff" or "the holy grail"...

aHA! TFA is a blank page. (2, Informative)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887341)

Another press release about a breakthrough that (assuming we actually get it working reliably and cheaply) may possibly dubut in a high end product nobody would buy for sticker-shock reasons in Japan in three years.

Really, wake me up when it's actually in a shipping product. I'll be excited then. Until it's working in the real world, it's just vaporware.

Re:aHA! TFA is a blank page. (1)

Jensaarai (801801) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887430)

Until it's working in the real world, it's just vaporware.

Even when it's working in the real world, won't "vaporware" work as a name for what fuel cells do anyways?

Low temperature performance (2, Interesting)

Maskirovka (255712) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887365)

Would the fuel cell batteries last longer than the current lithium batteries when subject to cold tempuratures?

Lifetime is an issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13887485)

If a liquid electrolyte is involved, expect performance to degrade as temperatures go down. It is quite possible that, at a certain temperature, your device (laptop, phone, etc.) would not get enough energy to operate. Of course, not many laptops are used in sub-zero temperatures. Fuel cells rely on an electrochemical reaction as do regular batteries and they are subject to many of the same problems.

An advantage to using hydrogen, as these Canon cells do, rather than a hydrocarbon, is that the cells might be expected to last longer. One of the limits on the useful life of a fuel cell is electrode poisoning with carbon. Of course, to solve that problem completely, you would have to supply the cell with both purified hydrogen and purified oxygen. That's not a huge deal, electrolysis of water provides the right quantities of both, but it means that you now need two storage tanks.

Re:Low temperature performance (1)

MrLizardo (264289) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887588)

By the time these are out good ol' global warming will have kicked into full swing and you won't need to worry about that whole "cold" thing.

Energy Density (5, Interesting)

zardo (829127) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887385)

A hydrogen cartridge wouldn't have the same energy density as an ethnol cartridge, it would have to be pressurized in a strong container, whereas ethnol can be poured into the camera. Sounds like a bad idea from the get go. When are they going to come out with a camera that is powered by the push of the button? They could put a nuclear fuel cell on the camera, but that doesn't make a very handy camera, IMO. No battery at all, now that would be marvelous.

Re:Energy Density (3, Funny)

surprise_audit (575743) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887658)

When are they going to come out with a camera that is powered by the push of the button?

You mean, like the old fashioned manual-wind, shutter-and-film variety that have no electronics at all?? I think they first came out in the 1800s...

I need to get some sleep (-1, Offtopic)

Kelson (129150) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887391)

In connection with the previous story, it's midnight and I should really go to bed if I expect to get anything done at work tomorrow.

I seriously read the headline as "Cannon's Fuel Cell..."

So now what? (1)

Mashdar (876825) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887412)

Long ago everyone was happy just breathing oxygen.
Now everybody is breathing toxic biproducts like "Nitrogen" and "Argon" and "Carbon Dioxide"...
Damned technology...

On a side note, I don't get to read TFA because of /. effect, but I am curious, where is the hydrogen coming from that fills the mystery containers? It is not just a middle step between generating free hydrogen putting hydrogen in the cell? I don't see why the process has anything to do with the cartridge.
Many thanks for any answers :)

Re:So now what? (2, Interesting)

kingamf (926258) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887456)

Hydrogen is not a legitimate source of energy, because too much energy must be put in to separate it from other elements. Hydrogen is therefore an energy carrier or "currency." People have been led to believe that we can use hydrogen to generate new energy when, in reality, it is simply another way to transport and use energy that has been generated by other means. Hope that helps.

Re:So now what? (1)

Mashdar (876825) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887495)

Thank you very much. I was actually well aware that the hydrogen must be actively harvested somehow, as well as the misperception that there could be a "hydrogen generator" which produces free (as in beer, not as in thermo) energy. What I was asking was what process was behind filling the "mystery canisters" which would drive these devices, and how is it different from the process already in use? The canister is irrelevant, but the poster (samzenpus) seems to make it sound like they are the reason the new technology is more environmentally friendly. What is the parent molecule, I suppose, is my question rephrased, and what energy is being used to do it?

Re:So now what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13887771)

You do know that you can't create new energy??

Re:So now what? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13887549)

Hydrogen comes from Canon in the cartridges. Nobody knows how its made.

Canon's business plan

1. Make digital camera
2. Give away digital cameras
3. ???
4. sell hydrogen cartridges
5. profit

Re:So now what? (0, Troll)

Patrik_AKA_RedX (624423) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887676)

I think their green-ishness is pretty artificial. Their cartrige doesn't release CO2 in the atmospher when used. However the company that's going to produce the H2 and fill the cartriges is very likely to extract it from natural gas and releasing the CO2 then. With other words: this is as far from the truth as you can get without lying. Unless, ofcourse, they set up a hydrogen extraction plant that's powered with renewable energy and use electrolysis to get the H2. But considering the startup price, that's pretty unlikely.

genital safety? (1)

greenplasticyarn (878011) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887413)

"...While companies such as Toshiba, Sanyo, and NEC have also been working on fuel cells (and had been expected to have developed fuel cell-driven notebook computers by now)"

Because I really want explosive materials right on my crotch...

Not again (3, Insightful)

squoozer (730327) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887432)

Here we go again. Someone will say that hydrogen is a power source and then a bunch of pedants will jump on him / her claiming that it's not a power sources it's a power store as it uses more energy to create it. Then there will be an argument over what constitutes a power source. Does that about sum up the discussion?

Re:Not again (1, Funny)

shmlco (594907) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887450)

Well I guess it does, now that you've gone and ruined it for everybody...

Re:Not again (1)

Vudu Child (50274) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887955)

Here we go again. Someone will say that hydrogen is a power source and then a bunch of pedants will jump on him / her claiming that it's not a power sources it's a power store as it uses more energy to create it. Then there will be an argument over what constitutes a power source. Does that about sum up the discussion?


Actually, you forgot about the diatribes on the sources of the fuel/store and whether greenhouse gases matter if they are from the current carbon cycle.

They fact that so many slashdotters don't know this whole routine already, especially the editors, is what's scary.

A letter from the hydrogen-powered future (3, Interesting)

roesti (531884) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887453)

Please often ask me, a Slashdotter from the future who owns a plethora of electronic gadgets powered by hydrogen fuel cells, how you fill one of these cells up when it's empty. Where does the hydrogen come from?

Well, some people have their own hydrogen-generating machines. Of course, these run on electricity; see, the generation of hydrogen costs more energy than the hydrogen contains - that is, it has an EROEI (energy returned on energy invested) less than one. Whatever you're processing to make hydrogen, you have to use up energy to get the reaction happening. Even if you wanted to do this, every home in the industrialised world would need a hydrogen-generating machine that ran on electricity - the manufacturing of which would cost enormous amounts of energy and materials, even if it worked at generating energy.

In some places, hydrogen is generated in big power plants and delivered "on tap" to your home or office. This might sound dangerous, but then again, people had gas stoves once, until natural gas production peaked and the price tripled overnight. Again, you'd need to retro-fit an enormous amount of infrastructure in which to deliver the hydrogen - the laying of which would cost enormous amounts of energy and materials, even if it worked at generating energy.

In any case, we need to do something. I mean, we've got all these gadgets - the manufacturing of which cost us enormous amounts of energy and materials - and they're all powered by billions of hydrogen fuel cells - the manufacturing of which cost us enormous amounts of energy and materials. Even though the average electronic device consumes ten times its weight in fossil fuels during its manufacture [un.org] , and even though the generation of hydrogen costs twice as much energy as the resulting hydrogen contains [culturechange.org] , people still bought into this sham in droves, believing that it's better for the environment.

In reality, it's made the problem more widespread because we demand more energy than ever before, and it hasn't solved anything because we haven't really found a new source of energy with which to replace fossil fuels. Made me think twice about buying that hybrid car, too [lifeaftertheoilcrash.net] .

You try telling people this was a bad idea, though. They'll look up from their plates of raw vegetables and mugs of rain water, and tell you to keep your big mouth shut.

Re:A letter from the hydrogen-powered future (3, Insightful)

Kelvie (822725) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887497)

Right now, anyway, the whole point of hydrogen fuel cells is not to see hydrogen as a PRODUCER of energy; the current goal is to use fuel cells as a hydrogen transport mechanism. The rationale behind this is simple; the only byproducts (at least with proton-exchange membrane fuel stacks) are water and heat, which is not a pollutant. The manufacture of hydrogen will produce pollutants, however the vehicle (or in this case, the electronic device) has far from an ideal methods to deal with these pollutants compared to say a power plant. Fuel cells have other uses, also, e.g. they charge instantly. The point of fuel cells is to avoid pollutants at the consumer level, and to bring the majority of it to the industrial level, where it may be dealt with in a much more socially responsible way (compared to your tailpipe). This is the current goal with fuel cells, whether or not this will be a viable solution for our dependency on fossil fuels is limited to the minds of the engineers in the R+D sector.

Re:A letter from the hydrogen-powered future (0)

Kelvie (822725) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887506)

First sentence: as an energy transport mechanism * It's late at night.

Re:A letter from the hydrogen-powered future (1)

Comen (321331) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887600)

Agreed, no one ever said they would produce more energy than it took to create the fuel cell or to make the hydrogen that goes in the cell, its a replacement for a normal battery, that takes long time to charge has a set amount of lifetime, and it a pain to recycle.
also statements like "and even though the generation of hydrogen costs twice as much energy as the resulting hydrogen contains" might be true like I said but I am guessing this is true in a sense for batteries also. The recharging mechanism is probally wastefull to some extent, I doubt what you take from the ac outlet it 100% converted to the battery. pretty sure some loss going from ac to dc even.

Re:A letter from the hydrogen-powered future (2, Informative)

broggyr (924379) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887925)

Most chargers I use get warm to some degree, so that must mean that some energy is doing nothing but heating the charger.

Re:A letter from the hydrogen-powered future (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887709)

But if you're going to use energy to make a fuel as a "energy transportation medium", why not spend it on making suitable hydrocarbons?

There's lots of existing infrastructure and tech for transporting and using hydrocarbons.

It's still a net zero CO2 generation if you take CO2 from the air to make the hydrocarbons.

What we'd need are decent hydrocarbon fuel cells.

Re:A letter from the hydrogen-powered future (1)

complete loony (663508) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887841)

2 to 1 is not too bad for recharging a battery. I'm sure most of the wall warts we use for re-charging batteries use more than that.

Re:A letter from the hydrogen-powered future (1)

ShadowFlyP (540489) | more than 8 years ago | (#13888129)

I love how you troll about a "hydrogen-producing machine" being so expensive to manufacture. Haven't you ever built one of these things in your middle school science class? Takes a 9v battery, two pieces of pencil lead, and two wires. REAL EXPENSIVE!

clean and safe? (2, Interesting)

stwf (108002) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887460)

I didn't bother to read the article, did it mention how big a hole in an airplane this fuel cell could make? THey won't let me bring a lighter on board, and that isn't even a realistic threat!

Power source development (1)

Flying pig (925874) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887473)

If we look at the speed of adoption of portable power sources, this looks more unlikely than most. Just consider that most of the world's portable power generation is by gasoline (or Diesel) engines; most of the portable temporary storage is still by lead-acid batteries. So the bulk of the market is still using refinements of 100+ year old technologies. A lot of the rest is using a technology nearly as old: Nickel cadmium, a derivative of the old nickel-iron (NiFe) cell. Rechargeable lithium cells are the only really new thing on the block and they have been in development for many years.

All of these are still based on the simple air cooled pot with two electrodes format. No-one has yet commercialised a single fuel cell technology for anything other than the most niche of applications, partly because storage cells really are quite efficient. And yet we are expected to believe that a technology based on an unproven delivery system involving a substance that has never been deployed in volume in the field, is somehow going to come to market in a foreseeable future.

I suspect that the oil industry is behind all of this. They are desperate to promote hydrogen technology - why? Because many of the alternatives - biodiesel, bioethanol, wind, do not require large scale infrastructure. The oil industry maintains its grip because it controls the means of distribution as well as production. The difficulties of hydrogen storage and transmission mean that the expensively developed business model of the oil industry continues to work for them because they have the infratructure. Biodiesel or bioethanol can be produced and sold by a single farmer. (which is why the oil industry wouldn't want alcohol-fulled cells.) Wind farms use the electrical grid that competes with the oil industry. Technologies like coal burning with CO2 resequestering use disused oil wells but not the distribution infrastructure.

Constantly hacking away at "hydrogen this and hydrogen that is just around the corner" is intended to promote acceptance in the public mind.

It would be interesting to know whether it would be more efficient to use nuclear power stations to produce hydrogen from water, or use the waste heat to help drive fermentation/distillation plants for producing bioethanol and biomethanol.

Re:Power source development (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13887647)

Now that is well stated. Why don't you and I have a personal bio-diesel revolution? We'll spread the word to all the single farmers to produce it and have it on hand, so when we're driving around we can refuel at their farms! :D

But seriously I think the point about the oil industry having the means of production and possibly wanting to be paid to build all this new infrastructure was a good point. But there are attractive facts about hydrogen fuel cells that all you haters seem to be forgetting about:
(1) Longer battery life/quicker recharge time (just replace the fuel! No hours of waiting for your laptop to be recharged)
(2) Lighter portables. What percentage of a laptop's weight is the battery again?
(3) Emissions-free (mostly) operation. OK so Lithium-ion batteries are also emissions free. But in cars, fuel cells would be an improvement in terms of the emissions department. (Note that I didn't say emissions free production of the fuel. Maybe we'll get there eventually. In the meantime, it's a step in the right direction.)

And why can't our single farmers produce bio-ethanol to fuel our portable HFC-electronics?

And for all you folks who love to point out that you can't get something for nothing; but no one's trying to say that that's what HFCs are. But let me ask you this: are lithium-ion batteries something-for-nothing? Or even more efficient? Once you've factored in how much energy was wasted producing the energy required to charge the battery, then how much was lost by the battery itself, do you really come out thinking that fuel cells are a step backwards?

And if you really want to get down to the nitty-gritty, think of all the cost of getting our power in the first place, especially if we're talking about oil. Think of the wars that have taken place (or are taking place...), the lives that have been lost. Think of the man-hours that have gone into drilling up all that oil and then think of all the pollutants that have come out of refining it. You're trying to tell me that after factoring all of that in, you're still going to say that hydrogen fuel cells aren't a good idea? They're not maybe a little more a efficient, a little less polluting? Even if we fuel them with bio-ethonal? Or hydrogen generated by 50% efficient solar panels? I know different people are saying different things. Many are just saying that they doubt it'll come out any time soon. But many many others are doubting its usefulness as a fuel altogether. I've heard a lot of doubters but I've seen no proof or numbers to justify their doubt. Show me the numbers my doubting friends, show me the numbers.

New fuel source eh? (2, Insightful)

Centurix (249778) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887478)

Japan will get them in everything before everyone else, by the time we get the replacement fuel cell in our hands the Japanese will have added cameras, out-of-fuel-crazy-frog-alert-tones, flashing lights, colourful straps and furry attachments.

Our first batch of these things will look like a grey brick with wires.

Revenge of the Sith (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13887491)

This was a big fat steaming piece of shit.

Thank God I downloaded this via Bittorrent. I only wish I had opted for the Divx version that would have only had me downloading 1.2Mb rather than the DVD which took 4.6Gb.

George Lucas should be banned from filmmaking for life. What the fuck is happening to this dude? The first three were so great! And yet the last three all sucked dick!

Thank you for your attention in this matter. Please resume your normal anti-social behavior.

Containment? (1)

bjcopeland (70793) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887518)

I have not read the article yet, (seems to be slashdotted) What folks seem to forget that since hydrogen is the smallest atom, it will ALWAYS leak from any container, right?. Also, where are they getting all this hydrogen? Are they creating it with DMFC technology? If so, wouldn't that cause just as much CO2 initially?

call me silly.

- ben

Methenol isn't that green or new (1)

TheLoneCabbage (323135) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887589)

Methanol CAN be green, but right now methanol is mostly manufactured from FOSSIL FULES [wikipedia.org] . Methanol is highly toxic, even upon contact with skin.

The article is also wrong. Methanol fuel cells [wikipedia.org] do not reform into hydrogen. If it did, the fuel cell would suffer from all of the cost of materials problems as conventional fuel cells.

Again all of this is old news, as Toshiba has already done a press release [toshiba-europe.com] about a 100mw direct methanol fuel cell.

C02 is not really a issue... (3, Interesting)

vhogemann (797994) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887637)

Since you have to grow large crops of sugar-cane to produce the Methanol, and these will consume large quantities of CO2. In the end, there will be no "new" CO2 released to the atmosphere, and the greenhouse effect will stop to increase.

Methanol is a good choice for fuelling cars too, since it generates more power than gasoline, less CO2 and it's cheaper to produce. The only problem is the oxidation it produces, but this will not be a issue when we switch over to eletric cars, powered by fuel cells!

The problem with fossil combustibles, like gasoline and diesel, is the oil they come from. Since it was trapped under the ground for millions of years, the CO2 contained on it is no longer part of the planet ecosystem. When we burn it, were injecting new CO2 to the atmosphere, and that's the main cause of the greenhouse effect.

Re:C02 is not really a issue... (1)

springbox (853816) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887944)

The problem with fossil combustibles, like gasoline and diesel, is the oil they come from. Since it was trapped under the ground for millions of years, the CO2 contained on it is no longer part of the planet ecosystem.

It is now!

Re:C02 is not really a issue... (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887957)

since it generates more power than gasoline

That's incorrect. Methanol has about half the volumetric energy density of gasoline and less than half the gravimetric energy density.

and it's cheaper to produce

Not many things are cheaper to produce than gasoline. Coal, perhaps, and certain grasses. Methanol is made from natural gas, so, even if it's cheaper, it won't be for long.

Re:C02 is not really a issue... (1)

vhogemann (797994) | more than 8 years ago | (#13888089)

Not many things are cheaper to produce than gasoline. Coal, perhaps, and certain grasses. Methanol is made from natural gas, so, even if it's cheaper, it won't be for long.
Here at Brazil we produce Methanol from sugar-cane. So its cheaper, and easier to produce.

Quit posting old news (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13887653)

*YAWN* Old news. Been around since Sept 16
http://www.imaging-resource.com/NEWS/1126887991.ht ml [imaging-resource.com]

Now, let me guess about fuel cell cartidges (2, Funny)

jolyonr (560227) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887673)

Seeing as Canon are involved, they'll probably contain 5ml of Hydrogen, cost half the price of the camera and be chipped to prevent unauthorized refilling.

Jolyon

Re:Now, let me guess about fuel cell cartidges (2, Informative)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887970)

Seeing as Canon are involved, they'll probably contain 5ml of Hydrogen, cost half the price of the camera and be chipped to prevent unauthorized refilling.

Arf... actually, I was going to get the same joke in myself, but about the tiny tankfuls, not the chipping. The reason I use a (low-end) Canon printer is that (unlike their rivals) they *don't* play silly buggers with chips, refills and so on; you can get third-party ink tanks with no hassle.

I've never had to consider a refill kit, as I can get new tanks for a (relatively) decent price. Most hassle I had was a clogged head that a cleaning cartridge didn't fix (I ended up soaking the base of the print-head in meths, and it was as good as new). And *that* was probably because I'd used crappy third-party ink.

If you want to lay into crappy printer manufacturers, go for Lexmark or something...

Since when did Carbon Dioxide become toxic? (1)

entirety (909951) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887877)

Since when did Carbon Dioxide become toxic? Doesn't the topic author mean "bad for the environment" or some other such rubbish?

I DON'T want a fuel cell in my camera/laptop etc. (1)

Burning Plastic (153446) | more than 8 years ago | (#13887883)

I really don't want a fuel cell in my camera or laptop or portable consumer electronics product. While they may be better than regular batteries in the output and recharge speed categories, what will happen when I want to take my nice fuel cell powered laptop onto a plane?

Any type of compressed gas is already forbidden in cabins - especially nice flammable ones. The airlines and aviation authorities will probably try to completely ban any fuel cell based battery in a cabin space. This would either lead to a market in short duration regualar rechargables for flights, and/or the installation of power points in all areas of aircraft, although this would then mean that everyone would have to buy adaptors and also I don't want to have to be tripping over power cables every time I get up to go to the toilet;->

I say consumer electronics as my heavy duty professional stuff will be travelling in the hold in a nice pelican case anyway...

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