Bloom Energy unveils its new fuel cell power system

Uploaded by networkworld on 25.02.2010

The hottest startup in Silicon Valley isn't in the IT business. But if Bloom Energy's
fuel cell technology does what the company promises, it could have a big impact on anyone
running a data center, or even a house full of PCs and consumer electronics.
Bloom unveiled its Bloom Energy Server on Wednesday at eBay's headquarters in San Jose,
where several are already in use powering a part of an office building. Dignitaries,
politicians and CEOs gathered to sing the praises of the product as Bloom announced
its availability.
Bloom says its technology can deliver energy that's clean, reliable, and inexpensive while
being disconnected from the power grid. The company's delivering it in big boxes for large
enterprises now, and in about ten years, it expects to be selling smaller Energy Servers
to consumers.
Fuel cells are nothing new, but Bloom says its are different. The main ingredient is
sand, formed into solid ceramic squares.
BLOOM CO-FOUNDER AND CEO KR SRIDAR "A flat piece of sand. Inexpensive materials,
but this is the core of the technology."
Bloom is using manufacturing techniques learned from the semiconductor industry and is focused
on improving efficiency.
SRIDAR "Today it produces 25 watts: Enough for a
lightbulb. Two years from now? Stay tuned."
The Bloom Energy Server creates energy out of oxygen and a fuel, such as natural gas
or ethanol. Bloom estimates they can pay for themselves in three to five years.
eBay's boxes provide half the power for this 200,000-square-foot office building. Wal-Mart,
FedEx, Bank of America and Google are also customers.
GOOGLE CO-FOUNDER LARRY PAGE: "Moving production of energy closer to where it's used has a
lot of benefits. It has a lot of environmental benefits but it also has a lot of commercial
benefits. It lets you, as an energy-using business, decide which kinds of fuel sources
you're going to use. Whether you're going to use the grid, or whether you're going to
use the other fuel supplies you have, like natural gas. That's a really big deal."
Eventually, a small Energy Server could be used in homes, even off the electrical grid.
SRIDHAR -- "This would power an average U.S. home. 24/7/365, all your energy needs."
The only noise the Energy Servers make is a whirring sound like an air conditioner.
Inside, they heat up to about 800 degrees Celsius, half as hot as a typical home heating
Bloom's executives don't just want to save the world from carbon emissions. Eventually,
they want to tackle poverty.
GENERAL COLIN POWELL, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: "We want to keep this product moving
forward in new models of the product, eventually, that can go into an African village. And just
sit there and provide electricity to people who've never had it before."
With reporting by Stephen Lawson in San Francisco, this is Martyn Williams, IDG News Service.