Is the Bloom Box the key to cheaper energy?
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Last night’s episode of 60 Minutes should have technology watchers, smart grid developers, and denizens of Dallas, and across Texas, hoping that at long last, a new, cheaper way of producing electricity is on the horizon, a device the size of a loaf of bread, and better yet, could use an energy source Texas has in abundance, natural gas from the Barnett Shale.
The formal debut of Bloom Energy’s Bloom Box will occur Wednesday at eBay’s California headquarters. Expected to attend, California’s governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and former secretary of state, Colin Powell, who is on the company’s board. Others in attendance will be venture capitalists, who have given nearly $400m to the company in order to develop the technology, and retail and internet giants currently testing the product, such as Google (the first to give it a try), Walmart, Staples, FedEx, and eBay.
The creator of the Bloom Box, and Bloom Energy founder, K.R. Sridhar gave CBS the first glimpse of the technology, explaining that the boxes are produced from stacks of ceramic plates. The plates, which are made of sand, are painted with special green and black inks. He declares that one such stack, or cell, can power a light bulb; 64 can power a coffee shop. In addition to the aforementioned companies testing the Bloom Box, Sridhar has also been testing the product at the University of Tennessee for the last two years, where the Bloom Box reportedly proved twice as efficient as traditional power sources and produced 60% fewer emissions.
The greatest thing that may potentially come from the Bloom Box, and benefit Texas the most, is the claim that it can use any fuel source, natural gas, wind, solar, biofuel, ect… to generate power, not only making it the perfect energy producer for any region of the world, but also would allow energy to come from a place other than the electricity grid.
Below is a clip from last night’s 60 Minutes piece. Watch and let us know what you think. Is this, as described on the program, the “holy grail” of clean energy technology, or an expensive waste of time? Moreover, if the company’s claims are true and you can eventually purchase one of these for your home at upwards of $3000-$4000, would you?
Bloom Box Video