Is Bloom Energy Blooming at the Right Time?


[H] News Editor
Mar 6, 2010
Bloom energy has released news about its Bloom Box. The company showed off its “power-plant-in-a-box” for large enterprises at a luncheon in Silicon Valley. Among the attendees were The Governator and Colin Powell. Is this just another green gimic or will this truly green up your I.T.?

The eBay campus has been powered by five Bloom Servers since July 2009, according to Schwarzenegger, who introduced KR Sridhar, the company's chief executive. Each generates 100 kilowatts.
This thing is a nice idea, but I see a potential flaw with its inception, if these go large scale then natural gas (and other "fuels") will be what skyrocket in price rather than electricity. California has lots of natural gas fired plants, so as long as these have the same order of efficiency it won't be too bad here but in other parts of the country that still rely on lots of coal not so much.
I need one of those 100kilowatts bloom box. I wonder how much fuel it needs. It will be cool if you can just tie the bloom box into the water pipes and just do hydrogen/oxygen.
I need one of those 100kilowatts bloom box. I wonder how much fuel it needs. It will be cool if you can just tie the bloom box into the water pipes and just do hydrogen/oxygen.

Maybe after I can setup a 24 eyefinity with quadfire on a server grade system.
If they can get the price down into the 3k range as they claim they can for a home sized unit It'd be pretty awesome as a power backup or peak shaving if nothing else. If they can't get the cost down it's just another overpriced POS that only makes sense with massive subsidies.
If what they say is true it could work. $3,000 and it pays for itself in 5 years or so. It's already better than solar at that rate..and it makes power in any weather.
If what they say is true it could work. $3,000 and it pays for itself in 5 years or so. It's already better than solar at that rate..and it makes power in any weather.

Whether or not it pays for itself will depend on a number of factors, mostly the cost of whatever fuel it's burning, and the cost of electricity in your area.

And, as mentioned previously in this thread, if these things ever become used wide scale, then the cost of natural gas will go way up and they won't necessarily be saving you anything anymore.

Burning natural gas instead of coal is not any sort of solution for the world's power needs, as there aren't limitless amounts of it sitting around unused. It could work for some individuals given the right circumstances, though.
Questions not asked...

What is the conversion efficiency in cold hard numbers? Is it more or less efficient that any other method of burning CH4 for energy?

If it is, great.

Next, we still have the issue of CO2 from burning the CH4, so how is this any "greener" than any other way of making electricity or heat from burning natural gas?

I love the "burns air" bullshit in the marketing verbage. Umm, every other manner of converting oil/coal/natural gas into electricity BURNS AIR... it's called OXYGEN, a required element of combustion... kindling temperature, oxygen, fuel.

How exactly was this gonna work on Mars again? Where was the OXYGEN gonna come from?

Somehow they were gonna breakdown the water on Mars, release its oxygen, then use that to burn natural gas to make electricity?

Why not just point a solar panel at the Sun and make electricity instead... oh, yeah THAT is precisely what NASA is doing, instead of using this sillyness.

I suppose you could use the excess solar electicity during the day to make H2 and O2 from water, which could then be burned back during the night when the Sun isn't shining.

But do I really want the Mars Rover running around Mars in the dark at night? Just asking.

All the hype, the pomp and circumstance smacks of another bullshit ripoff, dog and pony show to raise cash from stupid people for the "next big thing".

The only use I see, unless it is numerically much more efficient than running a traditional generator, is for converting the Methane from farm animals into CO2 to limit greenhouse gas effects from agriculture.

Enclose the 1 BILLION cattle, the 2 BILLION chickens, and the pigs, so thier methane can be filtered out and used to power the farms, and the CO2 from these "combustors" can then be fed into greenhouses to boost the productivity of the plants being grown.... might I suggest CANNIBUS as a great greenhouse plant? :eek::rolleyes::cool:

For the record, I'm not a big fan of Indians either, but that's just me. :p
For the record, I'm not a big fan of Indians either, but that's just me. :p

I was with you up until that last comment .. what the fuck is that suppose to mean?:mad:

I watched the 60 mins special on it and while it does have its draw backs its still better than burning massive amounts of coal and dumping more and more CO2 into the atmosphere .. the downside is the absorbtion rate that the creator wants will NEVER happen that fast.

Even he got all the bugs out of the process of making them and even if he got alot of businesses to accept the usage of it , it will never get sucked into resident usage in 10-20 years. It will likely take a century to demonstrate a new energy source well enough and allow it to be an acceptable business model for energy giants to jump into. Its just too easy to mine for coal , burn fossil fuels at this time.

Until renewable resources are as easy to aquire and use as fossil fuels than its going to be while before we even come close to the dream of 100 precent green clean energy.
The CEO is basically telling people that this tech will be able to take people "off the grid" in 5-10 years once the price for residential units comes down to 3k. Essentially, there will be no need for distribution/transmission lines in our future. There are several serious drawbacks with his plan:

-He has sized his residential box for 1kW. While this would probably match the average usage for a residential home, most homes will have peak power usage of up to 5kW in an average day. To come "off the grid" he would have to size his residential box to at least 5kW and this would blow his price-point out of the water (15k sound more reasonable?)

-His fuel cell almost certainly produces DC. Most appliances in homes run on AC. That means, in addition to having a $15,000 bloom box in your back yard, you're going to be installing an expensive inverter in your basement. What was his price point again?

-What is his plan for acreages/farms that don't get natural gas? You're never going to convince me that it's more cost effective to install buried pipe in the ground to deliver natural gas in an area that likely has very little existing infrastructure then it is to tap-off the power line that's a couple spans away from the owners house on the other side of the street

Basically, I think his idea for installing residential units and letting people go off the grid is a pipe dream, and is just being thrown out there to get people excited about his product. On the other hand, if these boxes can churn out a profit then installing them in nearby substations might be an option.
Sorry, I was just making a joke... the inventor is an Indian American, and I was just ragging on his baby. Just trying to lighten the air.

No matter how you cut it, converting X amount of CH4/Oil/Coal into Y KWH of electricity will release close to the same amount of CO2. The CO2 remains the problem. If we nail down sequestering it and putting it to good use, we can then burn all the coal/oil/gas we want.

Not that solar, wind, nuclear and eventually fusion shouldn't be a top priority, but the simplest and quickest solution to our problem is to solve the CO2 issue by containing or using it in a manner that kills two birds with one stone.

As for cost, from now on I will always point out the real cost of doing nothing, and that price is $7 TRILLION every 10 years at a minimum.... the amount of trade deficit the US experiences importing energy. Force the industry to solve CO2 for anything less than $7 TRILLION and you are already making a profit.

And sequestering CO2 from coal power plants, increasing the electric grid capacity and converting transportation to electric will NOT cost $7 TRILLION.
The Bloom device still burns CH4 Methane, using O2 Oxygen, and producing H2O Water and CO2 Carbon Dioxide.

The CO2 from burning fossil fuel is believed by some to present a threat to world climate change and rising world temperature through the greenhouse effect.

The Bloom device, being hyped as some newage green thing, does not address the CO2 production issue. If it is much more efficient (we dont know yet) than say a big ass natural gas (methane) powered traditional internal combustion generator, then maybe it would be a net win making X electricity using less methane, but it is not going to be so much more efficient that it is an answer to our climate change concerns.

So for now I call Shens. :eek::rolleyes::p
Shens maybe, but ultimately this is a pretty cool concept.
I think the area where this will shine is if they can increase efficiency in the use of biogasses. Being able to have these directly create power off of rotting landfills could be rather useful.

I like to look at it this way. If the inventor dies of a "heart attack" while these take off there was something to them. If not it's just another alright idea that isn't gonna change how things are done.