VIASPACE Inc. (OTC Bulletin
Board: VSPC), an alternative energy company providing products and technology
for renewable, clean energy, announced that new technology enabling fuel cells
for micro applications has been patented under U.S. Patent Number 7,585,577
"Monopolar Fuel Cell Stack Coupled Together Without Use of Top or Bottom
Cover Plates or Tie Rods."
The patent was issued to Caltech, which licensed it exclusively to VIASPACE
subsidiary Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Corporation (DMFCC). The inventors are
Sekharipuram R. Narayanan and Thomas I. Valdez, both with the NASA/Caltech Jet
Propulsion Laboratory, where the direct methanol fuel cell was invented.
The new patent application is related to monopolar fuel cell stacks. Traditionally,
direct fuel cells stacked unit cells vertically like slices of bread in a loaf.
Monopolar stacks use the same unit cells, but the "bread slices" can
be laid horizontally next to each other. This allows for a thinner fuel cell
that is more suitable for many micro applications like mobile phones. The patent
states that "the new stack design offers two-to-three fold improvement
in power densities, suitable for manufacturing, uses inexpensive plastic materials,
and straightforward to troubleshoot and assemble. Such a stack design will substantially
improve the commercialization of portable direct methanol fuel cell power sources."
The new patent follows previously awarded U.S. Patent Number 6,680,139 "Reduced
Size Fuel Cell for Portable Applications," and U.S. Patent Number 6,756,145
"Electrode and Interconnect for Miniature Fuel Cells Using Direct Methanol
VIASPACE and DMFCC Chief Executive Dr. Carl Kukkonen remarked: "This new
patent adds significant value to our intellectual property portfolio. It will
be difficult for any company to go to market with direct methanol fuel cells
for micro applications, or other applications for that matter, without first
obtaining protection under the Caltech patents which we have licensed."
Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Corporation holds an extensive and comprehensive
portfolio of direct methanol fuel cell patents licensed from Caltech as well
as the University of Southern California. The patents cover the direct methanol
fuel cell concept, technology that makes the science practical for use, and
important processes related to manufacturing. Several patents are considered
fundamental and blocking.
"Direct Methanol Fuel Cell Corporation is focusing on disposable fuel
cartridges that provide the fuel source for direct methanol fuel cells,"
Kukkonen stated. "As previously announced, we are partnered with Samsung
and are also working under confidentiality agreements with other companies.
Strategically, we are engaging in opportunities to apply our intellectual property
and patents in order to help develop the direct methanol fuel cell market."
In a related development, on October 22, 2009, IDG News Service reported that
"After years of prototypes and promises that the technology was just around
the corner, Toshiba has become the first major consumer electronics maker to
launch a device using direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) technology. The Dynario,
a charger that can replenish [recharge] the batteries in gadgets like cell phones
and digital cameras via USB, went on sale on Thursday on Toshiba's Web store.
The charger is about the same thickness and width as a cell phone, although
it is slightly longer than most phones at 15 centimeters. A single 50-milliliter
charge of methanol will enable it to recharge a cell phone twice. The next step
for Toshiba will be gadgets with embedded fuel cells. Earlier this month at
Ceatec 2009 one of its DMFCs was on display inside a cellular telephone but
both Toshiba and Japanese carrier KDDI, which was demonstrating the phone, gave
no estimate for its release. Toshiba didn't disclose any plans to sell the charger
To date, Caltech's direct methanol fuel cell patents have been issued in the
United States, Korea and other countries but not yet in Japan.