WSJ writes that fuel cells may soon power our gadgets:
Long-running interest in fuel-cell technologies has accelerated recently amid soaring oil prices. Ultimately, the hope is that fuel cells will be able to power cars or electric generators for homes. But the technology has been tricky to develop and extremely difficult to commercialize, especially because the bigger power systems needed for cars or generators use lots of parts and, so far at least, have been prohibitively expensive to produce.
Toshiba and others are developing fuel cells that run on a type of alcohol called methanol — also initially derived from natural gas. Toshiba’s most basic version of the fuel cell is about the size of a cigarette lighter and, like old-style lighters, can be refilled from a bottle when empty. That means users can juice up portable gadgets while on the run rather than plugging into a wall socket to recharge, a feature that could grow in importance as devices like cellphones start to do more things — like play music or video clips — and drain more power.