Bloom Energy is a privately held company based in California and is the producer of the Bloom Box. CEO K.R. Sridhar invented the solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology that is used in the Bloom Box while working for NASA’s Mars program.
Let get a quick rundown on how the technology works.
Unlike regular fuel cells that have been around for decades, the Bloom Box is different. It’s a stack of ceramic plates, each coated with two different proprietary chemical mixes (the electrolyte).
Oxygen is fed into one side of the sandwich and fuel into the other (the reactants). The two combine within the cell, and the resulting chemical reaction produces electricity.
The Bloom Box uses a clean electro-chemical process to produce electricity, unlike dirty combustions that are used in most processes today. Of course, it’s up to the user to be totally green, as the user chooses what fuel to feed the box.
Fuel can range from fossil fuels such as natural gas or from green sources like wind, biogas, or solar. You can even feed the box with energy off the grid (much of which is produced by coal).
The Bloom Box separates itself from other fuel cell technologies for four reasons:
• Materials cost less – Fuel cells use an abundant sand-like powder instead of expensive and rare precious metals like platinum. Also there are no corrosive materials like acids.
• Electrical efficiency is high – The Bloom Box can convert fuel into electricity nearly twice as fast as other technologies.
• Flexibility in fuel sources – The system can use both renewable and fossil fuels.
• Temperature endurance – The fuel cell can withstand temperatures near 1,800°F while other fuels cells would breakdown or need maintenance.
Each Bloom Box size will vary based on the customer, whether power is needed for an office building, a data center, or an average household. And to help avoid enormous initial cost, you can add more boxes as you go.