Bloom Energy Claims Advance in Fuel Cell Technology


Bloom Energy has unveiled its long-awaited and much-hyped fuel cell technology, which it says can convert natural gas into electricity through an electrochemical process that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent and at a price competitive with far-dirtier coal-fired electricity.

With California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in attendance, Bloom co-founder and chief executive K.R. Sridhar unveiled his Bloom Energy Server at the Silicon Valley headquarters of one of its first customers, eBay.

Taking up no more room than a parking space and looking like a large refrigerator, the servers (at left) — which cost roughly $750,000 — convert natural gas or another fuel into electricity by creating an electrochemical process on a series of small, stacked disks.

Unlike other fuel cell technologies, the Bloom server does not use expensive precious metals, such as platinum, in its electrohemical process, but rather makes its discs of sand, Sridhar said.

He claimed that in contrast to other fuel cells, which have been short-lived, his can work for years and can generate electricity at 8 to 10 cents a kilowatt hour with far less pollution than coal or merely burning natural gas.

Bloom has $400 million in funding and has lined up major companies such as Wal-Mart, FedEx, Coca-Cola, Staples, and Google, whose founder, Larry Page, said he hopes to use the servers to power Google’s main data center.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

photo: Bloom Energy

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Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

1 Comment

  1. Enough with the bloom box ok? I really don’t know how they are getting so much press. I’ve read the articles, I’ve watched the videos and all have absolutely no substance; it’s just Hype. Yes– it has potential BUT show me the specs, tell me what the efficiency is, what’s the byproduct, what is the lifespan of the product.

    The whole thing smells like a well played marketing campaign and gains success with each forwarded bit of ‘news’ like the newsletter sent from cleantechies today.

    As an industry, we need to ask people hard questions and call them out when they are in danger of misleading the public.

    –I’ll get off my soapbox.