Saturday, April 09, 2005

Smoke and Methanol #2

I originally wrote a piece called Smoke and Methanol around May of 2003 explaing why the predictions of the immanet arrival of the methanol fuel cell for portable applications was just smoke. I predicted then that the methanol fuel cell would not be an actual product until 2006.

It looks like I was a bit optimistic.

In the April 2005 edition of Electronic Products an update of the current status of Toshiba's progress was announced. So far they have a prototype of a methanol fuel cell which they hope to have in production by late 2005 or early 2006.

That does not mean they will be available to the general public then. First manufacturers must get their hands on production samples. Then they must be designed in to a product. Following that the products must be tested and approved by the various agencies including the FAA, the FCC, UL and others. Then they must go into production and get distributed along with replacement fuel cartriges.

That means the earliest they can come to market is early 2007 or as late as 2008. If everything goes according to plan.

All this for a product which was announced as coming soon in the year 2000.

Getting a product to market is never as easy as it seems.

In addition we still know nothing about the cost structure of these new devices. They may be an energy hit and an economic failure. Only time will tell.

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