MTI Teases Methanol-Powered USB Charger

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You still can’t fill up your PDA with methanol and run it for days like MTI Micro was anticipating back in 2004, but the company’s fuel cell technologies for portable electronics came one step closer to reality on Tuesday with the introduction of a universal charger prototype. The pocket-sized charger generates enough electricity from a methanol fuel cell to recharge a cell phone ten times via a standard USB jack.

Much like the company’s previous methanol fuel cell prototypes, the Mobion universal charger harnesses the power of a chemical reaction to generate electricity – in this case 25 Watt-hours – without any need for a wall connection. It uses a standard USB connection for sharing power with any mobile device, from cell phones to digital cameras, and has LED lights to show status.

MTI says the third-generation Mobion chip in the charger helps reduce the size and boost efficiency, allowing current-generation fuel cells to generate an impressive 1,800 Watt-hours of electricity for every kilogram of fuel.

Though the Mobion universal charger won’t be available on store shelves this year, MTI hopes to ramp up commercial production by the end of 2009.