Bloom Energy Boxes: The Way of the Future?
For the last couple of decades there has been a lot of talk and research into coming up with clean alternative energy sources. In one of the most recent and potentially most efficient fuel cell discoveries yet, Bloom Energy is marketing tiny fuel cell boxes called “Bloom Boxes”.
The creator, who was originally employed by NASA, had already created a version of this fuel cell to work on Mars. Instead of using the original design that was created to produce oxygen on the martian planet, founder K.R. Sridhar changed the configuration so that the fuel cell would use a chemical reaction between a fuel and oxygen to create energy. One of the most interesting parts about these fuel cells is that they use sand and cheap metals. There are also other secretive chemical formulas that are applied to the sand but K.R. doesn’t need to use expensive, precious metals for his fuel cells to work. In addition, the fuels that these cells use range from fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas, to sources of renewable energy like landfill gas, biogas, and solar energy.
One day Bloom Energy hopes to replace the current energy grids that we all rely on. Bloom has a very convincing argument in terms of costs as well. Although the cells are currently priced at $700,000-$800,000 each, they hope to one day be able to supply every home with a box for under $3,000 a piece. These fuel cells are predicted to be cheaper, cleaner and more efficient than the current electrical grids that we are using now.
Giving Bloom even more credit are the people who are already funding and backing these boxes. One of the venture capitalists who funded companies such as Netscape, Amazon, and Google, is also helping fund the over $400 million project that Bloom Energy currently is. With little to show and much to prove, Google, Fedex, Walmart, Staples, and Ebay have all purchased “Bloom Boxes” to power a percentage of their campuses. Bloom’s first customer Google now uses half as much natural gas as it normally would to power their datacenter. Ebay has saved 15% or $100,000 in their first month using biogas as their fuel. Since they are using biogas and oxygen, this makes their emissions carbon neutral. In addition, the state of California has highly incentivized the use of these new energy solutions by subsidizing costs and giving big tax breaks.
This could be one of the biggest new developments that begins to sweep the world. R.K. dreams of having these in every home in America over the next 5 to 10 years as well as locations such as villages in remote parts of Africa along with all of Europe and parts of Asia. Just as the laptop replaced the desktop, and wireless phones replaced landlines, “Bloom Boxes” could be found in your backyard replacing current energy grids.
For more information please see http://techcrunch.com/2010/02/22/bloom-energy-boxes/ which also has a link to the clip of a 60 Minutes segment that I watched about Bloom Energy.
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