[Column] Toshiba Launches Impressive Fuel Cell Battery

Dec 9, 2009
Kouji Kariatsumari, Nikkei Electronics

Toshiba Corp released the "Dynario," its fuel cell battery for use in mobile devices, at the end of October 2009 with a limited release of 3,000 units. The company has been silent on the battery since its president announced that it would release the Dynario until the end of fiscal 2008 but finally realized the commercialization of the battery.

図1
Toshiba's "Dynario" fuel cell battery

When we broke down the fuel cell battery, we were surprised by the large number of components. It is equipped with many circuit components other then fuel cells such as ultra-small pump, valve, microcomputer, controller IC chip and controller board. We were also surprised by the sturdy chassis of the battery, which is made with metal plates and strong reinforcement materials.

The Dynario has two power generating units, a cylindrical lithium-ion battery and two controller boards equipped with a power supply switch and an input-output terminal. The power generating unit is made by sandwiching generating cells between a lattice-shaped stainless steel plate and a resin chassis that works as a fuel feed plate and fixing them with rivets and caulking. Therefore, the cells cannot be taken out without breaking the unit.

The power generating unit is equipped with a fuel valve, a fuel pump and two controller IC chips for controlling them. The controller boards mounted with the power supply and the input-output terminal are used to control power from the power generating units and boot up the power generating units by using the lithium-ion battery.

図2
The Dynario has two power generating units.

The power generating cell has a very simple structure, and I felt that Toshiba made tremendous efforts to develop the fuel cell battery purchasable by general consumers.

After manufacturing 3,000 units of the battery, the company will release a new model. Therefore, a fuel cell engineer of another company guessed that Toshiba used an experimental board this time.

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The simply structured power generating cell

Considering Toshiba's efforts, I think the price of the Dynario, ¥29,800 (approx US$336), is very low. However, the battery can be smaller and lighter if the numbers of its fuel pumps and fuel valves are reduced to one and controller IC chips are integrated. In any case, I was impressed by the fact that the company made good on its promise to release the battery.