methanol fuel cells pop up in all kinds of concept devices for a while now, there have been precious few actual shipping products that get their juice on with a fuel cell. That might be slowly changing, as a research team at the National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan has come up with a novel filtration system that increases the efficiency of methanol cells to potentially usable levels. The system, which is 10 times more efficient than conventional waste pumps, features a series of 100 50-micron holes that allow waste CO2 to escape out of the cell, while excess water is pulled off by a hydrophobic Teflon ramp (boy do we love those hydrophobic Teflon ramps!) that drives H20 molecules away from the methanol and into a collector. Since this method doesn't require any power to work, it's well-suited to cell phones and laptops, as the cells can be made smaller and quieter. While this doesn't mean we'll be seeing fuel cell Zunes anytime soon, you can bet those guys in Texas with the booze-powered robots just crossed a big X off their dev charts.
(Photo is of an unrelated Toshiba fuel cell concept.)