LG develops long-lasting fuel cell battery

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LG develops long-lasting fuel cell battery

LG Chem announced yesterday that it has beaten competitors in the United States and Japan in developing powerful new portable fuel cell batteries, which it plans to put on sale this year. Company officials said yesterday that the fuel cells have a life expectancy of 4,000 hours, up to eight times more than products from competing companies. Until now, a short life span, issues related to stability and high production costs have hindered the mass production of portable fuel cells. But new technology that reduces the heat generated by the pole of a fuel cell has greatly enhanced stability. “The new fuel cells are not a product just for the laboratory; they can be put onto the market at any time,” said Yeo Jong-kee, President of LG Chem. “We are planning to launch them as soon as international standards for fuel cells are established at the end of this year.” The president added that the new fuel cells will also be used in portable electronic devices for the military. Fuel cell batteries work by converting methanol into electric energy. They are also environmentally friendly: Not only can they be recharged simply by adding a new cannister of methanol, but discarded fuel cell batteries, if ruptured, emit only water, and thus are not harmful. Company officials say that reducing the size of the fuels cells, which are about one-fourth the size of a conventional notebook computer, and lowering an initial price tag that is expected to be in the 500,000 won ($490) range are issues to be tackled in the future. One fuel cell cartridge is said to be able to provide enough power to run a laptop for more than 10 hours. The new fuel cells will also be well-suited to power-hungry devices such as portable multimedia players or digital multimedia broadcasting phones, the company said. Company officials said by 2007 the fuel cells will have been reduced to a size usable internally in notebook computers. The market for portable fuel cells is expected to be $600 million in 2006 and $1.9 billion by 2010. by Suh Kyoung-ho

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