The "Bloom Box"
Posted 2/25/10 , edited 2/26/10
Apparently Google, and eBay are already using a few and as a result eBay saved 100k in electric costs. Wal-Mart is also testing the invention. I think it is a fascinating invention though as some have wondered how reliable the devices are, and as usual they are very expensive but just imagine how much the first cell phones cost, albeit this is a little different.

I also wonder what the energy companies will do to undermine and stop it.

edit: Better video on article website.

Source ->

Bloom Energy, a Sunnyvale startup that has been working for years on a fuel cell that would allow homes and businesses to generate their own electricity, officially unveiled its so-called Bloom Box at a highly orchestrated media event Wednesday morning.

Tech journalists joined Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bloom cofounder and CEO K.R. Sridhar, venture capitalist John Doerr and former Secretary of State Colin Powell at eBay's San Jose headquarters to learn how Bloom, which has raised about $400 million from investors, plans to mass produce its solid oxide fuel cells.

Google, FedEx and Wal-Mart are among the companies beta-testing the technology; several Bloom Boxes are in use on the eBay campus.

EBay started using five Bloom Energy Servers in July. They produce electricity to power space for 2,000 to 3,000 employees and shaved $100,000 off eBay's power bill, says Amy Skoczlas Cole, director of eBay's Green Team. EBay uses natural gas in the boxes but will switch to methane gas from an Oklahoma landfill this spring.

But they're not cheap: The commercial-scale boxes, which look like a big refrigerator, cost $700,000 to $800,000.

Founded as Ion America, the company re-branded itself as Bloom Energy in September 2006 and is the first cleantech investment in the vast portfolio of venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfied & Byers, where Doerr is a partner and where Powell and Sridhar are "strategic limited partners." But the highly secretive company has kept a tight lid on its operations until this week.

Fuel cells use hydrogen, natural gas, methane or other fuels to produce electricity through an electrochemical process with a fraction of the emissions of a typical power plant. But cost is still a significant barrier.

There are about six main types of fuel cells in various stages of commercial viability, and experts often break the field into "low temperature" fuel cells that rely on hydrogen and "high temperature" solid oxide fuel cells that can use other fuels like methane or natural gas.

Solid oxide fuel cells operate at red-hot temperatures — usually about 1,000 degrees Celsius.

"Because they operate at high temperatures, they can accept other fuels like natural gas and methane, and that's an enormous advantage," said Michael Tucker of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. "The disadvantage is that they can shatter as they are heating or cooling."

Solid oxide fuel cells are not new: since 1999, the Department of Energy, researchers and leading companies have been collaborating on efforts to accelerate the commercial readiness of "SOFCs."

"Solid oxide has always been the holy grail of fuel cells, and there are a lot of companies working on it," said Mike Brown, vice president of UTC Power in Connecticut, a division of United Technologies and a leading fuel-cell maker. "The issue is durability and cost. Fuel cells have to be as durable as utilities, and operate for at least 10 years."

Earlier this month, UTC Power announced that the new Whole Foods Market grocery store currently under construction in South San Jose will use a UTC Power fuel cell system to generate 90 percent of the store's electricity needs; since a byproduct of fuel cells is heat, the thermal energy will be captured and used for the store's heating, cooling and refrigeration.

Bloom's secret technology apparently lies in the proprietary green ink that act as the anode and the black ink that acts as the cathode. Bloom executives would not disclose the composition of the ink. Small cells are then stacked to make a larger device. A key question for Bloom is "stack life": How long are the stacks going to last? What warranties are they providing their customers?

"What has to be proven by any fuel cell manufacturer is that their technology can operate reliably for years, ideally 10 years, with the 'four nines' — 99.99 percent reliability, or very little outages," said Scott Samuelsen, director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center at the University of California-Irvine and a professor of mechanical, aerospace, and environmental engineering. "At this point, Bloom has excellent potential, but they have yet to demonstrate that they've met the bars of reliability."
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33 / M / Florida
Posted 3/2/10 , edited 3/2/10
I think it's a great idea,hope they can make it work so that everyone can use them...but well see in 5 to 10 years from now...I really would mind getting one right now if I could afford the price tag!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!XD
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Posted 3/2/10 , edited 3/2/10
I saw this is TV yesterday, looks epic. The future is here people!!
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24 / M
Posted 3/2/10 , edited 3/3/10
Never had one before, but I don't want one at all. I'll pass on it.
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21 / F / Right in your scr...
Posted 3/2/10 , edited 3/3/10
Hm, nice idea. But, too bloody expensive. :'(
Posted 3/3/10 , edited 3/3/10
Not interested really...
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29 / M / Bangalore,India
Posted 3/5/10 , edited 3/5/10
In India, this is all they show in the news.

'Look, look son. One of us. ONE OF US. We are solving the bloody energy crisis. OOOH, we found water on the moon as well. See son? Indians are awesome.'
Posted 3/7/10 , edited 3/7/10
$700,000-$800,000? Well, it's definitely not cheap. But think about how much money you could be saving in the end.
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F / Youtube!
Posted 3/20/10 , edited 3/20/10

choclate28 wrote:

$700,000-$800,000? Well, it's definitely not cheap. But think about how much money you could be saving in the end.

Less than $700,000-$800,000 if you're just a person...
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