Korean Firm Claims Most Advanced Fuel Cell - InformationWeek

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Korean Firm Claims Most Advanced Fuel Cell

The methanol-powered, portable cell lasts for more than 4,000 hours--eight times longer than competitive products, according to the manufacturer.

SEOUL — LG Chem Ltd., the largest chemical company in South Korea, claimed that it has completed the development of the world’s most advanced portable fuel cell. The company plans to commercialize the product within this year.

Methanol fuel will be used to power the fuel cell, according to LG Chem (Seoul). The durability of LG Chem's fuel cell lasts for more than 4,000 hours, which is 8 times longer than competitive products, according to the company.

LG Chem's portable fuel cells are a micro miniaturized product, which is less than 1 liter in the core and weighs less than 1 kilogram. The company claims that its fuel cell system produces 25-W of power, which is the world's largest power output of its kind.

As the power demand for electronic devices such as laptops and cell phones increases, LG Chem plans to further develop various fuel cells which can generate power ranging from 5- to 50-W.

Unlike batteries, which require recharging, fuel cells can continuously produce electricity under the condition that fuel is constantly supplied. A portable fuel cell can be largely classified into methanol fuel cell and a hydrogen macromolecule fuel cell that requires a miniature reformer.

LG Chem is pushing so-called Direct Methanol Fuel Cell (DMFC) technology. “The hydrogen macromolecule fuel is not adequate to be applied on mobile IT devices since it requires a macro reformer or a hydrogen storage container to generate power,” the company said. “On the other hand, the DMFC can contain higher levels of energy and uses less dangerous methanol to generate power; therefore, the DMFC is widely being developed over the hydrogen macromolecule fuel cell.”

"Developing a fuel cell which has a long durability and reliability is a great opportunity for LG Chem to outpace its competitors and gain a strong presence in the global market," said Jong-Kee Yeo, president and chief technology officer of LG Chem, in a statement.

"Once the global codes and standards for portable fuel cells are prepared within the end of this year, the company will soon start commercialization by meeting growing demands in areas such as laptops and cell phones. Moreover, it will be applied in areas such as portable electronic devices for the military," he said.

The global demand for portable fuel cells in 2006 is estimated to reach $600 million. The market is expected to reach $1.9 billion by 2010.

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