Portable fuel cells finding match in consumer electronics

September 30, 2011 — The consumer electronics sector — smartphones, media tablets, notebooks, digital cameras — represents a promising emerging market for portable fuel cells. This market has not materialized as quickly as expected, but several fuel cell manufacturers and large-scale electronics companies are currently putting forth micro and small portable fuel cells (PFCs) for a range of portable electronics markets. Limitations in durability, performance, cost, and integration are being overcome.

According to Pike Research, 4.5 million PFCs for portable electronics will be shipped in 2017, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 237% over the next 6 years. The "cautionary" period for fuel cell manufacturers will start to end in 2012, says research analyst Euan Sadden.

Most of the early portable fuel cells for consumer devices will be external battery chargers. High-end consumer electronics require a relatively high power density for long durations. These fuel cell chargers can provide the necessary power without a connection to the electrical grid. The higher prices of early fuel cell adoption will be less prohibitive to high-end consumers.

Most companies are developing external battery chargers that work with a range of products. In October 2009, Toshiba introduced the Dynario, a direct methanol fuel cell designed to power mobile phones, MP3 players, and other devices up to 5V.  Korean and Japanese electronics developers, with their huge resource base and extensive intellectual property, are expected to play a crucial role in developing this market.

Pike Research’s report, “Fuel Cells for Portable Power Applications,” provides a comprehensive examination of applications for portable fuel cells, including portable electronics, external battery chargers, remote monitoring, and military applications. Key technology and business issues are analyzed in depth, and major players in the fuel cell supply chain are profiled. Market forecasts for unit shipments and revenue growth, segmented by application area, are provided through 2017. Learn more at http://www.pikeresearch.com/research/fuel-cells-for-portable-power-applications.

Pike Research is a market research and consulting firm that provides in-depth analysis of global clean technology markets. For more information, visit www.pikeresearch.com.


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