More details of the Bloom Box have been revealed at a carefully managed press conference in California. The much-hyped off-grid source of cheap electricity will not lead us all to disconnect from the grid tomorrow, but it is undoubtedly disruptive technology, and very exciting for the off-grid community.
More details of the Bloom Box have been revealed at a carefully managed press conference in California. The much-hyped off-grid electricity source will not lead us all to disconnect from the grid tomorrow, but it is undoubtedly disruptive technology, and very exciting for the off-grid community.the firm’s executives and backers do think that many people in future may choose to install a small Box in their home and use it to generate electricity from such fuels as methane and ethanol rather than buying it from expensive, wasteful centralised producers.The invention is simply an oxide fuel cell, which the industry has known for years to be one ft he most promising forms of power supply device. The problem has been cost, and Bloom Energy have not solved that issue.Fuel cells are devices that convert fuel into electricity through a clean electro-chemical process rather than dirty combustion. They are like batteries except that they always run. Our particular type ofThe Bloom box naturally takes in oxygen from the air and emits CO2 just like an ordinary hydrocarbon-fuelled generator. But it is more efficient: and unlike most fuel cells, according to its makers, it is cheap to make.That, in a nutshell, is it: a cheap fuel cell – made of “sand and ink” according to interviews given by Bloom CEO KR Sridhar – and are undergoing trial deployments at various customer facilities in California. Wal-Mart, FedEx, eBay and Google have been named as customers.E-Bay chief John Donahoe told today’spress conference that Bloom is “disruptive” just like eBay was. “We put solar in, 65,000 feet of it, which powers 18% of our campus on peak. But then we ran into Bloom. Put it in last july, and it’s powering 15% off just 5 boxes.”Mostly the pilot Bloom plants – larger, fridge or car-sized units intended to power large buildings – run on ordinary fossil-fuel natural gas, but some users intend to use gas sourced from landfills or other more eco-feely sources.The Bloom’s Energy Server, as the company is now calling it, is “a new class of distributed power generator, producing clean, reliable, affordable electricity at the customer site.”That is what makes interesting to people living off-grid, or wanting to.Bloom’s fuel cell technology is different than legacy “hydrogen” fuel cells in four main ways:1. Low cost materials – our cells use a common sand-like powder instead of precious metals like platinum or corrosive materials like acids.2. High electrical efficiency – we can convert fuel into electricity at nearly twice the rate of some legacy technologies3. Fuel flexibility – our systems are capable of using either renewable or fossil fuels4. Reversible – our technology is capable of both energy generation and storage
Each Bloom Energy Server provides 100kW of power, enough to meet the baseload needs of 100 average homes or a small office building… day and night, in roughly the footprint of a standard parking space. For more power simply add more energy servers.
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