Micro fuel cell firm says product by 2004

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Aug. 9, 2002 — MTI MicroFuel Cells Inc., based in Albany, N.Y., has shrunk its prototype powerpack to smaller than a deck of cards and will begin focusing on development and field testing commercial versions of the tiny fuel cells in 2003.

William Acker, chief executive, said that the company has cut the size of the device in half by integrating the fuel cell with the microfluidic plumbing that controls the methanol fuel. The new model also eliminates the need to route water from one side of the fuel cell’s membrane to the other, and has reduced cost by eliminating the need for several tiny pumps and valves.

“We’ve reached our third prototype stage two months ahead of time, and are getting into the size range where we need to be for commercial applications,” he said. “We’ve now got a simpler system that is integrated onto a laminated circuit board and can run on concentrated fuel of 40 percent methanol.” Aker said that the device has also been tested in the lab running on an 80 percent methanol fuel mixture.

Aker said the latest prototype has a slightly greater energy capacity — .24 watts per cubic centimeter of fuel — than the previous version unveiled 10 months ago.

And with last week’s appointment of a Alan Soucy as chief operating officer, Aker said, the company will begin building relationships with battery companies, cell phone and PDA makers as well as other potential partners for commercial distribution in 2004.

– Jack Mason

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