Panasonic has reduced the size of its portable fuel cell device for laptops making it more compact and efficient.

The company said today that the new portable fuel cell has a volume of 270cc, which is almost the half of the company's first prototype announced in 2006.

Prototype, equipped with laptops and mobile fuel cell systems for mobile multi-charger to be used as two types of fuel cell systems, the type of laptop uses lithium-ion battery pack to achieve the same volume, the appearance of a laptop Without prejudice to the replacement of the lithium-ion battery pack. Multi-type battery charger for a variety of mobile devices without the AC power supply at any time, the charger can charge anywhere, as the concept of development. This multi-charger, the mass-market paperback in the same size as a two-port USB output terminals are equipped with multiple electronic devices can supply power.

The device offers an average power of 10W and 20W when coupled with a lithium-ion battery pack. Fuel cells are powered by liquid methanol, and the new Panasonic cells contain around 200 cubic centimeters (12 cubic inches) of the chemical fuel, or about enough to fill a small milk carton. The device's weight is 320g (fuel excluded) and it can power a notebook for approximately 20 hours, the company said.

Panasonic also released a stand-alone charger that has a couple of USB power outlets and can be used to recharge dead gadgets such as iPods and cell phones when away from a power socket. The recharger is slightly larger at 360cc and weighs 350 grams.

Panasonic doesn't have any plans for commercialization but said it hopes to have them on the market by the end of 2012.

Fuel cells have several advantages over rechargeable batteries; not only do they last longer, but they can also be recharged almost instantly and contain no toxic chemicals.

Both devices will get their first public showing at the Hydrogen Energy Advanced Technology Exhibition 2008 that is due to open Wednesday in the western Japanese city of Fukuoka.