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Nokia drops mobile fuel cell plans

Nokia has dropped plans to develop mobile phones with fuel cells for at least the next few years, spokesman says.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Nokia Corp. has dropped plans to develop mobile phones with fuel cells for at least the next few years, a spokesman for the Finnish company said Thursday.

The world's largest cell-phone maker, which only eight months ago signaled its commitment to fuel cells, said the technology isn't yet mature.

However, Nokia's Matti Naskali left the door open for future use of the technology. "Fuel-cell technology is promising and Nokia continues to follow it closely," he said.

In a cell phone, a fuel cell would remove the need for a rechargeable battery, instead allowing a user to recharge it the same way a cigarette lighter is refilled when it runs out of butane.

A fuel cell would also allow longer talk and standby times and increased stamina for power-hungry applications such as television.

In June 2004, Tero Ojanpera, head of Nokia's research center, showed off a headset that was powered by a small amount of methanol. The fuel cell combined the methanol with air to produce power.

At that time, Ojanpera said the technology was "reasonably mature," and predicted that it would take less than two years to commercialize it.

But Naskali said several issues with the technology had dented Nokia's enthusiasm, including logistical problems.

Current air transportation regulations prohibit the carrying of methanol, which is flammable, on an aircraft without special packaging.

Naskali said that methanol supply chain details have also yet to be decided.

Companies including Motorola Inc., Toshiba Corp., Fujitsu Ltd., NEC Corp. and Hitachi Ltd. are also researching fuel-cells for mobile phones and portable computers.