Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd is currently working on a mobile phone that will be powered entirely by fuel cells. The Korean handset maker announced its plans on the 18th of May 2006, making it one of the greatest publicly disclosed commitments to technology in recent times.
Samsung Electronics has entered into a joint effort with the Albany based MTI Micro fuel cells Inc. to bring out a cell phone powered by fuel cells, thus replacing the conventional lithium polymer technology. “We’ve promised to demonstrate a fuel cell that is better than a lithium ion battery by the third quarter of this year, and we’re on track to do that,” Peng Lim,CEO of MTI envisions.
The acids and heavy metals, which the traditional lithium batteries contain, are harmful to the environment. Besides being eco-friendly, which is the greatest need of our time, this fuel powered cell will also serve another purpose, i.e. longer battery life. Nowadays, mobile phones come equipped with mega-pixel cameras, mobile television and music playback. Due to this increased draw of power,conventional battery types are not able to keep up.
According to Chris Ambrosio, who is an analyst for Strategy Analytics, Fuel cells have their own problems. This may be because methanol is highly flammable, and safety experts believe the chemistry in fuel cells could pose a problem if they leak or overheat. But he does believe that manufacturers could make safe fuel cells. “I have not heard of a fuel cell exploding in anyone’s pockets, but there’s a significant public relations and safety issue perception that the industry is going to have to overcome,” Ambrosio said.
Samsung has committed to investing $1 million to the R&D effort, which would remain exclusive through the second quarter of 2007, Business Week magazine reported. The relationship between the South Korean handset maker and MTI Micro fuel cells Inc. began more than a year ago. “Since then they’ve come here and done a deep dive with our technology, and obviously they see potential”, says Alan Soucy, Chief Corporate strategist of MTI.