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NanoMarkets New Study Forecasts $2.6 Billion Mobile Fuel Cell Market
Renewable Energy Access, Nov. 1, 2005

As Nanomarkets has forecasted in its recently released report on mobile fuel cells, a critical milestone in the accelerating development of fuel cells for portable electronics applications, such as PDAs, cell phones, or laptop computers, was reached recently as fuel cell membrane leader PolyFuel, Inc. announced that its hydrocarbon DMFC (direct methanol fuel cell) membrane has passed the 5,000-hour mark in durability testing.

According to a new report from market researcher NanoMarkets LLC, 2006 is projected to be the take off year for mobile fuel cells, leading to a projected market size of US$1.1 billion by 2009 and US$2.6 billion in 2012. Industry observers believe that commercially viable portable fuel cells must demonstrate lifetimes in the 2,000-3,000 hour range, a market barrier that PolyFuel has functionally eliminated for fuel cell manufacturers.

“Membrane durability has always been one of the key technical challenges faced by fuel cell manufacturers, as it translates directly to the lifetime of a fuel cell,” said Jim Balcom, president and CEO of PolyFuel. “In applications targeted for portable fuel cells, consumers are acclimatized to battery lifetimes in the 2,000 to 3,000 hour range for their portable devices.

Quite understandably, electronics manufacturers and fuel cell developers see this as a crucial benchmark.” According to battery company product specifications, said Balcom, the charge-keeping capability of a typical lithium-ion battery degrades steadily over time and with use. After only one or two years of use, the runtime of a laptop or cell phone battery is reduced to the point where the user experience is significantly impacted.

For example, the runtime of a typical 4-hour laptop battery drops to only about 2.5 hours after 3,000 hours of use. By contrast, fuel cells built with PolyFuel’s membrane continue to deliver nearly their original levels of runtime well past the 2,000 and 3,000 hour marks and are still going strong at 5,000 hours — a fact that Balcom reports is delighting PolyFuel’s customers.

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