Toshiba fuel cell Dynario: Battery-life dyn-o-mite or dud?
This week in Japan, Toshiba launched Dynario (Japanese link), the world's first commercial direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC). Toshiba is hoping that when it comes to juicing gadgets on the go, people will forget about adapters, solar chargers and all that 20th-century paraphernalia -- and instead get with the new program by powering cell phones, laptops and most everything else with a squirt of methanol and a fuel cell.
The somewhat clunkily named Dynario starts shipping on October 29. The ¥29,800 ($327) price tag includes five 50ml bottles of methanol as a 'early adopter’ gift from the Big T.
Subsequent bottles will cost ¥3,150 (US$35) each, with one 14ml fill-up providing enough to charge two typical phones. Yep -- that’s almost US$10 per hit.
As for the mechanics of the thing -- we won't get into the chemistry of how electricity is produced by reactions between the methanol, water and air -- the Dynario’s fuel cell actually charges an onboard battery that can then be used to pump up dead gadgets through a USB cable.
In case you’re wondering about the legality of toting flammable liquids on airline flights, part of the reason for the ten-year-plus DMFC development cycle has been getting its safety aspect ratified by various international bodies.
That's all good and great in the world of methanol-powered gadgets. The main barriers left are that huge price-per-charge hit and the fact that for now Toshiba is making just 3,000 Dynarios in order to gauge consumer reaction.
Dynamite or dud? We guess it's up to the 3,000 early adopters who'll get first dibs before the Dynarios sell out. If you're one of them, let us know what you think.