Page last updated at 09:13 GMT, Friday, 23 October 2009 10:13 UK

Japan debut for mobile fuel cell

Dynario fuel cell, Toshiba
Initially, the fuel cell will only be available in Japan.

An alternative to batteries that uses methanol and water to recharge gadgets is to go on sale in Japan.

Made by electronics giant Toshiba, the Dynario fuel cell is now on sale and will only be available in a limited product run of 3000 units.

Toshiba said the unit, which costs 29,800 yen (£195), can triple the battery life of portable gadgets such as mobile phones and music players.

If demand proved high enough it said it would produce more units.

Anyone buying a Dynario will also have to pay for the methanol fuel to keep it running. A set of five refills is expected to cost 3,150 yen (£21).

Toshiba said the cell was ready to power gadgets about 20 seconds after it was fuelled with methanol. It estimated that each fill up produces enough power to recharge two mobile phones. Power is transferred via a USB cable.

The Dynario has a lithium ion battery onboard to store power that is being generated. The hand-sized unit weighs about 280g when empty.

Toshiba said it would be only available via its online store, called Shop 1048, and will start to ship the units to customers starting on 29 October.

Toshiba has been working on fuel cells since the 1990s but has held back from putting its prototypes on shop shelves before now. Fuel cells from other firms, including Medis Technologies in the US and SFC in Germany, have been available for some time.

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