Published on February 26, 2010
BLOOM BOX : BLOOM BOX Slide 2: The Sunnyvale, California based company on Wednesday rolled out, with great fanfare, the Bloom box fuel cell, which is designed to be stacked into small blocks and housed in a unit about the size of a refrigerator and sold as an alternative to electricity from the grid. Multiple 100kW units, costing between $700,000 and $800,000 each, are combined and sold to large companies. Bloom already has heavy weight customers such as eBay, Wal-Mart Stores, and FedEx. So what exactly is the Bloom Box? : So what exactly is the Bloom Box? The box consists of a stack of ceramic disks coated with green and black "inks." The disks are separated by cheap metal alloy plates instead of more precious metals like platinum. Methane (or other hydrocarbons) and oxygen are fed in, the whole thing is heated up to 1,000 degrees Celsius, and electricity comes out. Bloom estimates that a box filled with 64 ceramic disks can produce enough juice to power a Starbucks. Bloom's design feeds oxygen into one side of a cell while fuel (natural gas, bio gas from landfill waste, solar, etc) is supplied to the other side to provide the chemical reaction required for power. The cells themselves are inexpensive ceramic disks painted with a secret green "ink" on one side and a black "ink" on the other. K.R. Sridhar Interview : K.R. Sridhar Interview An interview with Bloom Energy CEO K.R. Sridhar explains, for example, how the device creates energy? "It mixes with water, which is a byproduct of our exhaust. Water and methane goes into the system and within the system the methane and the water react". Slide 6: Sridhar says:- “Why Bloom uses high temperature technology? Chemistry says the higher the temperature the higher the efficiency; it's just fundamental thermodynamics. Why do people go to lower temperature? They don't know how to handle the high temperature and they don't know how to handle the material challenges associated with the high temperature. We have figured out the material science and thermal packaging. And once you do that, you have a wide variety of fuels that you can use.“ Bloom Box Unveiled : Bloom Box Unveiled The energy machine known as the "Bloom Box" was formally introduced to the public at eBay's headquarters in San Jose, Calif. Founder and CEO K.R. Sridhar addressed the audience. Slide 8: Bloom Energy founder K.R. Sridhar estimates that a Bloom Box for the residential market could be out in 5 to 10 years for under $3,000. The cost is 9 to 10 cents a kilowatt hour, which includes maintenance, installation, natural gas. Is Bloom Energy’s Fuel Cell Miracle For Real? : Is Bloom Energy’s Fuel Cell Miracle For Real? The company boasts that their systems could literally replace the electricity grid with dispersed, clean, and easy to maintain fuel cell boxes running on a variety of fuels, water, and oxygen, with no combustion at all. BUT : BUT Slide 11: As Fuel Cell Technology is now ready for mass market. However the Superbox will not be the quantum leap it tries to make us believe it is. The cost of the Superbox amounts to $8000/kW. It uses gas, so were is the "green" bit? Granted if you use bio gas you may qualify for carbon credit, but that is virtue of the bio gas and unrelated to the Superbox. And besides that natural gas and/or bio gas is expensive to generate and difficult to store and distribute. With the Hydrogen Fuel Cell they use hydrogen generated on-site using photovoltaic's, i.e. split water with 100% renewable/sustainable energy at the site of energy production. That whole solutions (Fuel Cell, Electrolysis, Photovoltaic's) costs less than $6000/kW and uses only water to run, so it costs 20% less one time and then it costs 70% less in operational costs compared to the Superbox. Bloom is the Tesla of Fuel Cells... a noisy footnote.