Batteries have not kept pace with the advancing technology that they power, but they are used in everything from cell phones, laptop computers, and toys to consumer electronics. Compared to the devices that they power, batteries are relatively heavy, expensive per unit power they produce, last a relatively short time and recharging them takes hours. The solution to this less than desired means of a power source is fuel cells. Three fuel cells, also referred to as air breathers, considered are proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC), direct methanol fuel cells (DMFC), and direct formic acid fuel cells (DFAFC). We will discuss these fuel cells for micro and portable applications within the power range of 0.5 to 20 W for potential replacement of batteries. The reason for developing such fuel cells is to harness the power stored in the high energy density fuels, which provides more power and longer run times for the same packaging volume as batteries. The advantages of each type of fuel cell over batteries, their unique characteristics, technical drawbacks, current and future consumer products, and commercial issues will be outlined in this paper. A growing mobile society and consumer demands will drive the development of fuel cell technology forward as batteries reach their limit.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.