Casio Plans to Sell Fuel Cell Batteries in 2004

Fuel cell battery will power computer up to 20 hours.

Published: 13-Mar-2002

TOKYO, March 5 (Reuters) - Japan's Casio Computer Co Ltd said on Tuesday it would begin selling long-lasting fuel cell batteries in 2004, sending its share price up 17 percent in the first hour of trade.

Casio's fuel cells, which create electrical energy through the reaction of hydrogen and oxygen, can power a laptop personal computer for as long as 20 hours, compared with a typical lithium-ion battery's life of about four to five hours.

Fuel cells are also considered environmentally friendlier because they need only to be refueled with methanol, not recharged or replaced.

Other Japanese electronics firms such as Toshiba Corp and Hitachi Ltd are rushing to put fuel cells in the market as demand increases for smaller devices such as mobile phones, hand-held computers and digital cameras.

Casio shares were bid-only for the first 45 minutes of trade, after the Nihon Keizai Shimbun newspaper had reported the company's plans to commercialise its fuel cells.

Casio shares gave back some gains and were trading at 595 yen, up 11.89 percent, at 10:30 a.m (0130 GMT), having recovered their losses since mid-December.

They hit a low of 410 yen in late December, a level not seen since the mid-1970s, after trading above 1,000 yen for much of the last decade.

A Casio spokesman confirmed the report but declined to say how much the fuel cells would cost. He said the aim was to make them cheaper than lithium-ion batteries through mass production.

Methanol, the fuel used to power the cells, costs about 20 yen (15 cents) per litre.

Toshiba, Japan's largest semiconductor maker, is aiming to make a fuel-cell battery that could be available to the public within two years.

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