If you follow green technology, you have probably heard about Bloom Technology and their little box that can power a house.
The little secretive company that has raised nearly $400 million for, what is being called a “game changing fuel cell device” has after eight years finally starting to come out of the shadows with the Bloom Box, a $700,000 to $800,000 machine that 60 Minutes calls “a little power plant in a box.”
The box consists of a stack of coated ceramic disks. The disks are separated by cheap metal alloy plates. Methane (or other hydrocarbons) and oxygen are fed in, the whole thing is heated up to 1,000 degrees Celsius, and electricity comes out. Bloom estimates that a box filled with 64 ceramic disks can produce enough juice to power a Starbucks.
Presently, Bloom isn’t looking at the residential market, the box is far too expensive for most individual home owners. But major companies like eBay, Google, Staples and FedEx have already secretly started using the boxes. So far, the Bloom Box has been a success – eBay claims they have already saved over $100,000 in electricity costs since its five boxes were installed nine months ago. Ebay claims the boxes generate more power than the 3,000 solar panels at its headquarters.
While fuel cells are not new, until now they have been too expensive to be considered viable. Bloom still has to prove that its box can produce energy at a cheaper rate than other power sources. The box also produces carbon dioxide as a byproduct, a potential downside depending on how much it generates.
Bloom Energy founder K.R. Sridhar estimates a Bloom Box for the residential market could be available in five to ten years for under $3,000, which would be a significant improvement over the present $800,000.