Friday, July 29, 2011

Bloom Energy & Their 'Bloom Box' Fuel Cell System

Scientists have developed various new technologies to help mitigate the issue of carbon emission output in an effort to reduce air pollution in our atmosphere, e.g. solar panels, wind turbines, fuel cells, etc.  Of these, fuel cells have gained considerable interest as a promising candidate for efficiently converting the energy stored in several kinds of gases, such as hydrogen and methane, into electricity. 

Bloom Energy is one of a number of companies focused on developing and marketing a fuel cell solution. This California based company has developed a solid-oxide fuel cell technological solution which transposes oxygen into a reliable source of electricity; enough electricity to power homes, businesses, and potentially major sectors of industry. 

Energy & Green House Gas – Statistics

·    The IEA forecasts that by 2030, world demand for energy will grow by 60% and fossil fuel sources will supply 82% of the total global energy demand; non-carbon renewable energy sources will supply only 6% of the demand.
·    The U.S. is the biggest emitter of greenhouse gases worldwide. The country's carbon emissions increased to 7 billion tons of CO2 in 2004, 16% higher than emissions in the late 90's.
·    The largest increase in renewable power generation is taking place in Europe, largely due to governmental investments.

Leveraging breakthrough advances in materials science, Bloom Energy claims their fuel cell technology is able to produce clean, reliable, affordable power, practically anywhere, from a wide range of renewable or traditional fuels.

The Bloom Energy Server, also known as the "Bloom Box",  is a solid oxide fuel cell, composed of flat, coaster-size ceramic plates with a patented secret coating.  A single plate can power one light bulb. A stack of 64 of the cells in a small Bloom Box could be "big enough to power a Starbucks," says CEO K.R. Sridhar.

The Bloom Box is currently being used by a number of major companies such as Google, Wal-Mart, Coca Cola, Staples, FedEx, eBay and others.  These companies are using the very large Bloom Boxes, which cost between $700,000 to $800,000, to power campuses and data centers.  In about 5 years, Bloom Energy hopes to deliver a smaller Bloom Box for under $3,000 for use in the residential market.

See the "60 Minutes" video posted on YouTube

Customer Observations

·     According to CEO Bill Simon of WalMart, "Bloom Boxes are carrying 60-80% of our energy needs at peak in the buildings where they’re installed. However, in deciding to put these into operation, first and foremost, it also had to be profitable."
·     Patrick Pichette, Google's CFO,  has said, “For us it’s been really transformative…” They are using a Bloom Box to power one of Google's R&D center s.
·     Rob Carter, CIO & Executive VP of FedEx says, "We wanted to change the way the world works. This is something cool. Bloom array matches the power of the solar, and is helping us get 100% off the grid."
·     EBay Chief John Donahoe says “Bloom is ‘disruptive’ just like eBay was."

Have you heard about the Bloom Box? Do you know companies that are using them? What have you heard? Anybody have any hard facts to share? Talk to us.

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