Samsung Electronics on Thursday announced an exclusive alliance with MTI MicroFuel Cells Inc., a supplier of micro fuel cells for mobile applications.
Under the plan, MTI Micro will develop next-generation fuel cell prototypes for Samsung's mobile phone business. MTI Micro's direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) technology, dubbed Mobion, has been chosen to power a series of prototypes for Samsung's mobile phone and mobile phone accessories.
Together, the two companies will develop, test, and evaluate Mobion technology for various mobile phone applications. Upon successful completion of this agreement, MTI Micro and South Korea?s Samsung intend to continue to work together by entering into a product commercialization agreement.
With an escalating array of features, including TV reception, supported by ever greater capacity of microchips, power consumpion problems could to keep cellphones from adding functions with ever increasing complexity. The solution could lie in fuel cells, which have larger power generation capacities and do not need recharging.
Fuel cells generate electricity through chemical reactions of oxygen in the air and hydrogen supplied from fuel, such as methanol. However, a wide range of problems have to be resolved before fuel cells are commercialized for cellphone use.
Not all the problems are technical. Aviation regulations, for example, prohibit passengers from bringing flammable methanol on board.
The biggest problem is heavy initial investment and production costs for handset manufacturers. As a result, the fuel cell are expected to replace the batteries of the next generation mobile devices not before 2015, according to industry analysts.