Bloom Box Breakthrough 02.21.10  
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A Fuel Cell Breakthrough that Could Alter the Energy Playing Field

Jonathan Baxter

An inexpensive, clean source of electricity has been announced. Google, eBay and others have been testing it out. It's real. Take a ride.

Bloom Box, made from beach sand The Bloom Box fuel cell is made from beach sand and paint.

It is rare for there to be a big innovation in today’s word, but with the Bloom Box Energy invention that has just been announced, there is real reason for such a massive buzz.

Everyone who is interested in the BloomBox Energy fuel cell is either interested in the company’s stock price, or it’s effect on the future of energy in the world.

While we won’t speculate on the Bloom Energy stock price, IPO or any other such matters we can give you insight into the Bloom Box Energy technology and what it all really means for all of us.

Bloom Box Energy

The energy world is relatively easy to figure out in terms of what is needed, you get energy that’s inexpensive and clean, with no emissions and you got yourself a winner. However, getting there is a completely different story and hundreds of startups aim to tackle this grand mission in hopes of striking gold and revolutionizing such a massive industry.

Bloom Energy is one of these corporations, and it seems they have come as close as anyone to tackle this enormous challenge.

What is Bloom Energy and the Bloom Box?

The idea is that you can generate your own energy with the Bloom Box, wirelessly, and keep it your own backyard pretty much. The ultima idea is that one day it will replace the big power plants and transmission line grid,and make them obsolete. It is truly a remarkable idea to even imagine.

It has a lot of smart people believing and buzzing, even though the company has been unusually secretive – until now.

K.R. Sridhar broke this in the latest “60 Minutes” along with correspondent Lesley Stahl and provided America, and the rest of the world, with a first look at the Bloombox.

The Bloom Box Energy device has been in works for around a decade – and the way it currently looks, it might be the talk of the next decade.


On the Other Hand 2.28.10

Brooke Crothers

One energy analyst is taking a pessimistic view of Bloom Energy's highly touted fuel cell, saying that there's "nothing that unique" about the technology.

On Wednesday, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based start-up introduced the Bloom Energy 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. The company has begun selling 100kW units, costing between $700,000 and $800,000 each, and some of the "Bloom boxes" are already in use by companies such as Google and eBay.

"It's not bogus," said Sam Jaffe, a senior research analyst at IDC Energy Insights, but that doesn't mean Bloom's technology is all that impressive. "They have clearly spent a lot of money on research and developing this product, but there's nothing that I can see that is that unique about it."

And it's not cheap. "It's a very expensive fuel cell. There are a lot of other vendors out there with very expensive fuel cells," Jaffe said.

One aspect of the Bloom technology that's garnered a lot of attention is the fuel-switching ability. "That is not unique," Jaffe said. "Any high-temperature fuel cell should be able to do that. The fact that it's solid oxide and it's primarily ceramic opens up the possibility of making it much more cheaply, but every start-up in the energy field has an expensive product that they claim one day will be cheap. There is no reason to believe that Bloom has the ability to make it that much more cheaply. I'm pretty pessimistic about it."

And generating electricity using a Bloom box is not necessarily going to be any greener than getting electricity from the grid, as Jaffe explains in his IDC Insights blog. "At a capital cost of $7-$8 per watt, it's hard to find a competitive technology that's more expensive than buying a Bloom box. Even photovoltaics cost less when purchased on the scale of 100 kW at a time."


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Editor's Note

See the Thought on "Bloom Box and Nuclear Energy"

Whether you like it or not, nuclear power is coming back.

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