Next-Generation Energy Sources

Ray Peacock

It takes more than a few R&D announcements before you see real change in a technology. But you know a trend is becoming a reality when there is a steady increase in related technical conferences and product offerings. Today, word is circulating about many different types of new battery technologies.

Emerging Technologies
The recently held 2007 Tokyo Fuel Cell Expo tells us that another quantum leap in battery technology is nearly ready to drive portable-device improvements. For example, Medis Technologies recently released a fuel cell backup that can provide power for cell phones, PDAs, and almost anything else with an internal rechargeable battery. It won't fit into a device, though. That may come later. But right now it offers a real support for rechargeable devices. And methanol and hydrogen fuel cell technologies are likely to provide the higher energy density, longer shelf life, and quicker recharging to support more demanding instrument and computing needs.

Automotive and electronics companies are working closely with fuel cell suppliers such as Millennium Cell, Medis Technologies, and QuantumSphere to advance the technology. Not to be left out, Tokyo-based Kurita Water Industries has proposed and demonstrated solid-state methanol fuel for direct methanol fuel cells at the Tokyo Expo.

Honda, Toyota, Ford, and GM are all getting closer to developing viable battery/fuel cell technologies that can support the all-electric car. With the story still unfolding in Texas and Canada, EEStor remains on track to begin shipping 15 kilowatt-hour electrical energy storage units to ZENN Motor Company in 2007 for use in its electric vehicles. EEStor is very secretive about its breakthrough technology, and only the release from Zenn tells much.

More Data
You can find information on the new energy-source technologies on several Web sites and in print publications. Engadget.com and Sensors are great places to get ahead of the curve.

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