Meanwhile, Toshiba is working on a small fuel cell for portable electronics that could provide 20 hours or more of run time using a technology that relies on methanol.
Panasonic's hydrogen fuel cell system will be sold to Japanese consumers through a local utility company, according to Yoshihiro Kitadeya, a spokesman for Panasonic. At first, most of the systems, which will cost about $10,000, will come to market by being part of a new home.
Scientists in the UK are applying for a licence to create human embryos with three genetic parents. The aim is ultimately to prevent children from inheriting genetic diseases caused by mutations in DNA housed by their mitochondria - components of cells which produce energy.
The research application from Doug Turnbull and Mary Herbert at the University of Newcastle will be decided upon by the UK's regulatory body, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, over the next few weeks.
A new technique for retrieving chemical residues such as drugs or explosives from surfaces could allow forensic scientists to give answers to police within minutes, without taking the sample to a lab.
The new approach - developed by Graham Cooks and his team at Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana - involves firing a jet of charged water droplets at a surface and collecting ionised molecules that become dislodged. These can then be fed directly into a mass spectrometer - standard equipment that identifies ionised molecules based on the ratio between their size and charge.
A microscopic swimming robot unveiled by Chinese scientists could eventually be used for drug delivery or to clear arteries in humans, say researchers.
The 3 millimetre-long triangular machine was constructed by Tao Mei of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, and colleagues from the University of Science and Technology of China.
Fears that bird flu could mix with human flu to create a highly infectious, deadly new strain heightened last week after Thailand reported that human flu is circulating in areas where there have been renewed bird flu outbreaks in poultry. The country does not have enough human flu vaccine to protect all workers against simultaneous infection by both viruses.