Olympus and QinetiQ Agree to Research Hydrogen Fuel Cells in Digital Cameras

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October 3, 2005 - *A hydrogen fuel cell may not be in your future car, but it could be in your future digital camera. Olympus Corporation and U.K.-based QinetiQ have signed a research contract with the goal of developing compact and efficient hydrogen fuel cells for use in digital cameras and other electronics that have a high power drain. QinetiQ and Olympus are planning for a prototype by 2008, which would have a high power output (approaching or equal to 10 watts).

The chief problem the research is addressing is how to engineer a compact hydrogen generator; use of hydrogen gas as a fuel is well researched, but use of how to efficiently generate and harness hydrogen gas on such a small scale is not.

The hydrogen fuel cell would be specifically powered by ammonia borane, a compound composed of hydrogen, boron, and nitrogen. The solid compound, which is stable at room temperature, begins to release its 20% worth of hydrogen as a gas when heated. Ammonia borane is environmentally friendly, recyclable, and non-toxic, and its use is potentially suitable for devices that have dramatically different power requirements from moment to moment.

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