From now on, the people with motion disabilities will go green. Mitsubishi Gas Chemical exhibited last week a fuel cell power unit suited for small applications, such as powering an electric wheelchair. It has the size of a microwave oven, weighs 22 kg, and outputs 300W.
Its autonomy is up to eight hours with a 4-liter fuel tank (probably hydrogen). Mitsubishi has taken the research for small powering units a step further. Hitachi has also released a version of a similar fuel cell supply in July, but it had only 100W and 2:30h autonomy.
There is a partnership between Suzuki and Mitsubishi. They are both promoting the manufacturing of an electric wheelchair by using fuel cells, instead of rechargeable batteries. You don’t need much power to move a wheelchair, 300W are more than enough. The two companies plan to release a prototype unit and then market a version of it in the near future.
It would be interesting to see people with disabilities buying such devices, but their manufacturers must not forget that price is the most important aspect of a wheelchair, which is not a fancy car, but something vitally useful. I don’t think those less fortunate people are going to buy them just to be green, or to brag about their wheelchair. It has to offer them security in usage, a much prolongued autonomy, and an affordable price.