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New power sources for handheld electronic equipment

Toshiba launches its first direct methanol fuel-cell product: the Dynario, a power source that delivers power to mobile digital consumer products. Once fueled with an injection of methanol solution from its dedicated cartridge, Dynario starts to generate electricity that is delivered to a consumer product via a USB cable.
Sharp has been focusing on solar cells and achieves - at the research level - the world's highest solar cell conversion efficiency of 35.8% and these tiny cells will eventually end up...

PRESS SUMMARY

All about Fuel Cells at WikipediaToshiba Launches Direct Methanol Fuel Cell in Japan

Toshiba Corporation, a world leader in the development of fuel-cell technology for handheld electronic equipment, today announced the launch of its first direct methanol fuel-cell product: Dynario™, an external power source that delivers power to mobile digital consumer products. Dynario™, together with a dedicated fuel cartridge for refueling on the go, will be launched in Japan,  in a limited edition of 3,000 units only, and will be exclusively available at Shop1048 (http://shop1048.jp/), Toshiba's direct-order web site for digital consumer products in the Japanese market. Orders will be accepted from October 22, and shipping will start on October 29.

The power consumption of mobile electronic devices, including mobile phones, has greatly increased with added functionality, including TV reception and Internet connectivity. As a result, battery exhaustion has become a major concern. Dynario™'s DMFC delivers almost instant refueling that untethers electrical equipment from AC adapters and power outlets. It runs on mix of methanol and ambient oxygen, and the chemical reaction between the two in the fuel cell produces electricity.

Toshiba recognizes the DMFC as a high potential solution for portable equipment and is promoting intensive technology and product development, including improved practical use and downsizing.

The palm-sized Dynario™ is Toshiba's first DMFC product. Once fueled with an injection of methanol solution from its dedicated cartridge, Dynario™ starts to generate electricity that is delivered to a digital consumer product—a mobile phone or a digital media player—via a USB cable. On a single refill of methanol which can be made in an instant period (around 20 seconds), Dynario™ can generate enough power to charge two typical mobile phones.

Dynario™ integrates Toshiba's state-of-the-art fuel cell technology, allowing it to operate with only a small volume of concentrated methanol solution, reducing the size and weight of the fuel tank and the overall product. An ingenious fuel feed structure realizes uniform methanol delivery, and stable output to any attached device is fine-tuned by a built-in microcomputer. Performance is also optimized by Dynario™'s hybrid structure, which uses a lithium-ion battery charged by the fuel cell to store electricity. The dedicated fuel cartridge was co-developed with Toyo Seikan Kaisha, Ltd., one of Japan's leading packaging container companies.

Dynario™ and its fuel cartridge fully comply with the International Electrotechnical Commission's safety standards (provisional edition).


Sharp Develops Solar Cell with Conversion Efficiency of 35.8%

Sharp Corporation has achieved the world's highest solar cell conversion efficiency*1 of 35.8%*2 using a triple-junction compound solar cell.

Unlike silicon-based solar cells, the most common type of solar cell in use today, the compound solar cell utilizes photo-absorption layers made from compounds consisting of two or more elements such as indium and gallium. Due to their high conversion efficiency, compound solar cells are used mainly on space satellites. Since 2000, Sharp has been advancing research and development on a triple-junction compound solar cell that achieves high conversion efficienc y by stacking three photo-absorption layers.

To boost the efficiency of triple-junction compound solar cells, it is important to improve the crystallinity (the regularity of the atomic arrangement) in each photo-absorption layer (the top, middle, and bottom layer). It is also crucial that the solar cell be composed of materials that can maximize the effective use of solar energy.

Conventionally, Ge (germanium) is used as the bottom layer due to its ease of manufacturing. However, in terms of performance, although Ge generates a large amount of current, the majority of the current is wasted, without being used effectively for electrical energy. The key to solving this problem was to form the bottom layer from InGaAs (indium gallium arsenide), a material with high light utilization efficiency. However, the process to make high-quality InGaAs with high crystallinity was difficult.

Sharp has now succeeded in forming an InGaAs layer with high crystallinity by using its proprietary technology for forming layers. As a result, the amount of wasted current has been minimized, and the conversion efficiency, which had been 31.5% in Sharp's previous cells, has been successfully increased to 35.8%.

Sharp achieved this breakthrough as part of a research and development initiative promoted by Japan's New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO)*3 on the theme of “R&D on Innovative Solar Cells”.

Based on these results, Sharp will continue its efforts toward even greater improvements in solar cell conversion efficiency.

Additional information: All about Fuel Cells at Wikipedia
October 25, 2009
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