Bloom Box Energy:New energy source
While most of us were still celebrating Sachin’s amazing feat, there was a celebration of a different kind going on at Silicon Valley. eBay’s headquarters played host to the unveiling of energy startup Bloom Energy’s – Bloom Box!.Bloom Box is supposed to be a new type of fuel cell and has been nicknamed -’Power Plant in a box’.Bloom Energy’s founder and CEO – K.R.Sridhar claimed that the Bloom Box will do for energy what cellular technology did for communication. The technology is expected to generate clean and green energy while also allowing consumers to reduce costs and dependence on traditional sources of power.
The idea for this invention, quite literally was born in Mars. NASA asked Sridhar to find a way to produce oxygen for the sustainability of life on the red plant. He created a solar powered reactor that combined with Martian water to generate oxygen for breathing and hydrogen as a source of power. The reversed concept was used in the creation of BloomBox.
The core technology uses sand. The fuel cell is made up of a solid oxide cell which is made up of low cost material Zirconium oxide(unlike precious metals like platinum or corrosive materials like acids), found in sand, is used to make a ceramic disc.It is coated with some special green and black ink. It has high electrical efficiency.Each disc generates 20W of electricity . A number of these discs are then arranged to form the Bloom Box which has a 100KW capacity.The fuel used can be either a fossil fuel or renewable energy source.
The Silicon oxide cell has an Electrolyte which is Zincromium oxide and is coated with special inks ie. Green ink and black ink on either side which act as cathode and anode respectively.Generally Natural gas(Methane) is used as a fuel.The fuel cell is at high temperature which heats up water to produce steam.The steam reacts with the fuel to produce the reformed fuel.The reformed fuel attracts oxygen ions from the anode which generates water +little CO2+Electricity+Heat.The Heat generated +Water again forms steam and can be used again.
The Bloom Servers are already used by giants like Bank of America, Coca Cola, Cox Enterprises, eBay, Fedex Express, Google, Staples and Wal-Mart. eBay claims that it has saved upto $100,000 ever since it started using the Bloom Box.
Most new concepts face there share of skepticism. The Bloom Box is no different. Critics and Debunkers alike have started labelling it ‘not revolutionary’ and claimed that it wasn’t the most economical or efficient fuel cell around. Competitor UTC also said that the conference revealed nothing that was not already on their website and also took a jab at the number of years it has been in production.
The cost of energy works out to be $9k – $10k per kilowatt, much higher than its green counterparts wind and solar but this can be brought down to around $3k per kilowatt when it goes into mass production as the materials used in it are reasonably cheap,Says Sridhar. His vision is that, say, 10 years from now, every house will be powered by a Bloom Box which will totally change energy infrastructure landscape.
On a Utopian note, millions of households around the world may have the opportunity to be self sufficient without any adverse effect on the environment.
Will it Bloom or ka-Boom?..We have a long way to go before we will know for sure!