Methanol Fuel Cell Notebooks – on Planes?
Micro fuel cells and methanol fuel cartridges may soon be allowed on planes, thanks to a decree from the almighty Dangerous Goods Panel of the International Civil Aviation Organization. The 36 members of the ICAO Council are set to vote on a change to its rules by as early as April 2006. By January 1, 2007, the new laws could be in effect.
For laptop users across the world’s stratosphere, this could mean that they, finally, can use these alternative power sources for their computers as well as other transportable electronic devices. According to the ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel, their use would be limited in the cabin. Laptop users couldn’t stow them in checked baggage, and could only bring onboard two extra replacement cells or cartridges.
Companies that manufacturer such fuel cells, such as Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Corporation, would benefit, obviously, from the rules change. But people who travel and compute, simultaneously and often, would be next in line. Business folks, for instance, could tap away on their notebook, on their business proposals, memos, or whathaveyou, and not have to turn off their laptop once in an entire flight-save to switch out used cells with replacements stored in a case.
This makes methanol fuel cells a better bet for travelers than your standard lithium ion batteries. Heck, just go to any airport terminal, where every outlet is occupied by users looking to charge up to save up their battery power before a flight. Digital devices from the likes of LG, Ultracell, Samsung, Toshiba, Hitachi, and Sanyo are also being developed to handle these new fuel cells. They should hit the market by 2007.
Which is perfect timing. The ICAO Council at the United Nations should OK their use on planes by then, thanks to the new safer design and testing regulation on fuel cells that was passed by the equally powerful but ambiguously sounding International Electrochemical Commission.
By Matthew Brodsky – Laptopical
Saturday, December 03, 2005
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