Canon’s Fuel Cell May Drive Portable Gear

At a company event in Tokyo yesterday, Canon Inc. showed off a series of prototype hydrogen fuel cells which, it hopes, may begin replacing batteries in portable electronics gadgets like digital cameras, music players, and digital assistants within three years.

Canon showed three cells, a large-ish form aimed for devices like printers, another sized appropriately for digital still cameras, and a tiny third cell, roughly 1.6 by 1.3 inches (3 cm by 4 cm), aimed at small mobile devices like music players. A cell was shown operating inside an extension battery pack for Canon’s EOS Kiss Digital N professional-level digital camera; although the cell currently delivers about half the power of a traditional lithium-ion battery pack, Canon believes the fuel cell will be able to achieve three to five times the power of current battery technologies.

A number of electronics companies have been working on fuel cell technologies as battery replacements for several years. Fuel cells can potentially provide more power for consumer electronics devices relative to batteries of the same size and weight, offer near-instant recharging times, and

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