Samsung claims it has achieved a fuel cell breakthrough that delivers them a significant performance advantage over Japanese rivals Toshiba and NEC.

Samsung claims that it has developed a notebook fuel cell which lasts twice as long as rival systems from Toshiba and NEC. They also It’s lighter and slimmer too.

Samsung claims that their fuel the cell squeezes 200 Watt hours of energy out of each litre of fuel it consumes. This they say beats the 100-130Wh per litre energy densities claimed by the likes of Toshiba and NEC – both Japanese companies – for their own notebook fuel-cell prototypes. The problem for Samsung according to the latest IDC figures due to be released later this week is that their notebooks are failing to sell with the manufacturer slipping from where they were last quarter.

The Samsung cell measures 23 x 8.2 x 5.3cm and weighs under 1kg, the company said. But while it’s more compact that rival fuel cells, according to Samsung, it still represents quite a chunky addition to the back of anyone’s notebook. The cell contains around 200 cubic centimetres of methanol fuel. Samsung said it yields up to 50W, with an average output of 20W. It can run for 15 hours. The company hopes to put the fuel cell into commercial production in 2007.

Like other methanol fuel cells, the Samsung system uses a catalyst to react methanol and water at the positive electrode. This produces Hydrogen and electrons, which combine at the negative electrode with oxygen to create water. The cell has to transfer some of the water back to the anode to continue the reaction and suck the Hydrogen across to the cathode to enter into the water-producing reaction. The cell also produces carbon-dioxide.

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