Promoting Clean Technologies ^ Forging Cross-Industry Collaboration

Bloom Energy and the Bloom Box Fuel Cell: About the Company, It’s Founder and It’s Product

Bloom Energy Corporation, the maker of the “Bloom Box”

THIS HAND HELD CAN POWER A HOUSE

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THE BLOOM BOX is a ground-breaking fuel cell start up company (founded in 2002) that has generated a lot of venture capital and media buzz recently. The company has been testing and refining its stand alone fuel generating capabilities for the past few years at several large corporate headquarters, including eBay (EBAY), Google (GOOG), Wal-Mart (WMT), FedEx (FDX), and Staples (SPLS). Bloom Box’s chief scientist and company co-founder, KR Sridhar (see bio below), a 49-year-old scientist-turned entrepreneur,  was profiled on the popular CBS TV show 60 Minutes this past weekend (2-21-10) to build excitement for an all-star, corporate news breaking event on Wednesday (February 24, 2010) at eBay (EBAY) headquarters in San Jose in Silicon Valley.

UPDATE:

Today’s Press Conference (February 24, 2010) (VIA CNET)

Testimonials:

  1. Patrick Pichette (CFO of Google) included. “For us it’s been really transformative…” he said. Google’s Bloom Box is powering an R&D center.
  2. Simon (of Wal-Mart): Bloom Boxes are carrying 60-80% of our energy needs at peak in the buildings where they’re installed.
  3. Coke’s President Brian Kelly: We have aggressive goals. We need clean, reliable energy sources that meet customer and community demand. One of the very aggressive goals we have is to measured our carbon footprint and want to reduce it by 2015 . Bloom box is powering a 1/3 of an Odwalla plant.
  4. Rob Carter CIO and executive VP @ FedEx. –what was the idea of putting this in our Oakland, CA hub?
    A: We wanted to change the way the world works. This is something cool. Bloom array matches the power of the solar, and is helping us get 100% off the grid.
  5. Bill Simon of Wal-Mart. What led you to decide to put these in your operation?
    A: Simon: We aspire to power our buildings in the 100% renewable energy. And in order to do that, it has to be profitable–first and foremost. This is an opportunity to do both those things. We also have scale. The opportunity to provide it for everyone at less cost is a goal of ours.
  6. eBay chief John Donahoe says Bloom is “disruptive” just like eBay was. We put solar in, 65,000 feet of it, which powers 18% of our campus on peak. But then we ran into Bloom. Put it in last July, and it’s powering 15% off those 5 boxes.

Q: WSJ asks “have you conducted third party cost analysis?”
Sridhar: Customer proof points. Public companies, costs have been scanned. 10 year life that’s warrantied through Bloom Energy.

Q: NBC asks “is there a particular kWh cost?
Sridhar: Says $.09-.10 per kwh. Customers save compared to grid.

Q: Forbes asks ‘Does $.09-.10 include CA tax cut?
Sridhar says it includes all of the costs. And that no systems installed outside of CA.

About the Fuel Cell:

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Bloom Energy develops a flexible solid-oxide fuel cell system that produces clean, reliable and affordable energy from a wide range of fuels. Bloom’s technology enables consumers to generate their own electricity for less than they pay their utility, and to reduce their carbon emissions by 50-100% per kW depending on the fuel.  The fuel cells would use (but not burn) hydrocarbon fuel, and produce just half the carbon dioxide that today’s power plants do. One fuel cell should be enough to serve a home; homes could sell excess power back to the grid. Bloom Energy’s biggest hurdle is cost. It needs to get the price of its machines below $10,000 apiece. What goes into the fuel cell? Traditional fuel, natural gas, renewable fuel. Biomass gas, landfill gas, ethanol. Whatever you have. This fuel cell can take any of those fuels. And because of the unique chemistry, it can use that to produce electricity. If you have multiple fuels, you can try to get the cheapest fuel into your box, and get the cheapest form of electricity based on market value.

Sridhar said Bloom is not using platinum, but clearly there seem to be alternatives floating around.

According to Michael Kanellos in an article (GreenTech Media 02 22 10) entitled
“Is Bloom Energy’s Secret Ingredient Zirconia?”, A U.S. patent filed in 2006 and granted to Bloom in 2009, however, seems to indicate yttria stabilized zirconia plays a role. “It is not Bloom’s only patent and may not be the basis of a lot of the technology inside the Bloom box, but it’s something” Kanellos writes and then quotes directly from the patent:

“The SORFC contains an anode electrode, an electrolyte and a cathode electrode. Anode electrode 11 is preferably a porous electrode comprising perovskites, metals and/or cermets. Preferably, the anode electrode comprises a perovskite material. Cathode electrode 12 is also preferably a porous electrode comprising platinum or platinum family metals. Preferably, the cathode electrode comprises platinum. Solid oxide electrolyte 13 is sheet of ceramic material, such as yttria stabilized zirconia. Electrodes 11 and 12 are attached to electrolyte 13. An anode gas chamber 14 is formed between the electrolyte 13 and an anode side interconnect (not shown for simplicity). A cathode gas chamber 15 is formed between the electrolyte 13 and a cathode side interconnect (also not shown for simplicity).”

The Players at Bloom Energy

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The CFO  of the company is William Kurtz and the VP of Product Development is Venkat Venkataraman.
According to Bloomburg News, the following people are prominent board Members at Bloom Energy

  • Scott Sandell of Cybernaut, age 42
  • Greg Galanos 63 Relationships Metrowerks Corporation 58
  • L. John Doerr III, Physician Advantage, Inc. 58
  • T. Rodgers Ph.D., Cypress Semiconductor Corporation 61

GroupScope

Supporters:

The company has allegedly raised $400 million in venture capital so far. One of Bloom’s board members includes Colin Powell. Other high profile supporters and investors include California’s governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and John Doerr of Kleiner, Perkins, Caulfield & Byers (invested since 2002), New Enterprise Associates, and Morgan Stanley. The U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research, Arlington, Va. awarded a contract valued at up to $832,111 contract to Bloom Energy Corp.

The 60 Minutes Video comes from CNN via You Tube

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The following bio of KR Sridhar comes from the Entrepreneur Corner at Stanford and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

KR Sridhar
Bloom Energy

KR Sridhar is the principal co-founder and CEO of Bloom Energy. Prior to founding Bloom Energy, Dr. Sridhar led a team developing technologies to sustain life on Mars for NASA. For his work, Fortune Magazine cited him as “one of the top five futurists that are inventing tomorrow today”. Before this Dr. Sridhar was a professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering as well as Director of the renowned Space Technologies Laboratory (STL) at the University of Arizona.Under his leadership, STL won over $20 million in nationally competed R&D contracts.

Dr. Sridhar has successfully assembled and led major project teams consisting of strategic consortia of industry, academia, and national labs, and has served as an advisor to NASA.  Among his significant projects, Dr. Sridhar helped develop strategic plans for the space agency in the areas of nanotechnology and planetary missions.  His work on NASA payloads to Mars which were designed to convert Martian atmospheric gases to oxygen for use in propulsion and life support were recognized by Fortune Magazine, where he was cited as one of the top five futurists that are inventing tomorrow, today.

Dr. Sridhar received his Bachelors Degree in Mechanical Engineering with Honors from the University of Madras, India, as well as his M.S. in Nuclear Engineering and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.

Dr. Sridhar has served on many technical committees, panels and boards. He has over fifty publications, and has performed pioneering work in the areas of Space Technology, Microsensors and Devices, Multiphase Flow, and Solid Oxide Electrolysis and Systems, the last of which is the basis of the technology being used at Bloom Energy. He is outspoken in his belief that the climate crisis we face is also a tremendous economic opportunity, that energy policy must be technology-neutral and performance-based and that we can solve our current energy problems through a combination of technology, innovation and conservation.

Dr. Sridhar enjoys interacting with K-12 children and inspiring them to learn math and science.  He lives in Los Gatos, California with his wife and two children.

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  1. […] For Full Story About Bloom Box (Click Here): THIS HAND HELD CAN POWER A HOUSE […]

  2. This company is about to revolutionise power generation WORLDWIDE.
    They will be compared to Microsoft!!!

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