Sharp has developed a prototype of its direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) that delivers a higher power to size ratio than any of its competitors.

DMFC technology uses the reaction produced between methanol, air and water to produce electricity, producing only water vapour and a small amount of carbon dioxide. This means the technology can be greener than much of that available now.

Using a DMFC means recharging can be completed almost instantly by simply refilling the cartridge with methanol, rather than lengthy charging.

Sharp, like its competitors, is intending to use the technology in small devices like mobile phones, and to help power laptops too.

However, the devices are still at the prototyping stage at the moment, and won’t be ready to compete with the incumbent lithium-ion technology for the foreseeable future.

Puny power

Sharp’s DMFC prototype is reportedly able to produce 0.3W of power per cubic centimetre, though no word has been given on the size of the device the company has created.

Many other technology companies are interested in developing the DMFC technology, including Toshiba, which plans to mass-produce the technology during 2009.

Sony has also shown off a prototype hybrid fuel cell, which uses both DMFCs and a lithium-ion battery. Using this combination of technologies it can power 14 hours of mobile TV viewing using just 10ml of methanol.