Bloom Energy Debuts Advanced Solid Oxide Fuel Cell to Provide Clean, Reliable, and Affordable Power 24/7 (Originally Published 2/24/2010)
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Editors Note: Only The Auto Channel can provide First Hand Coverage of The Bloom Energy Press Conference to auto enthusiasts and consumers.
The Auto Channel's Marc Rauch and Mark Fulmer were the only automotive journalists among a select cadre of high powered media invitees to the Bloom Energy press conference this morning.
Our crew will provide exclusive Press Pass Coverage of this event including video of the total event, so you can see it for yourself and make up your own mind concerning the veracity of this breakthrough fuel-cell.
When The Auto Channel Co-publisher Marc Rauch asked Dr. KR Sridhar, principal co-founder and CEO of Bloom Energy about his plans for an automotive/mobile version of the magic box, Dr. Sridhar said that he believes that his invention "was not made to be mobile" because of the inherent operation of a solid oxide fuel cell which is designed to always be working and generating electric and its extreme operating temperature. In response to this question Dr. Sridhar asked our reported "why isn’t hydrogen being used as a fuel in America’s internal combustion powered cars and trucks now?" a question we have asked for over 5 years.
TACH hopes that the publicity and the potential effectiveness of the good doctor’s invention will reignite the interest in hydrogen fuel cells for mobile application. With all of today's attention and resources being given over to the development and implementation of pure electric vehicles, hybrid-electrics and plug-ins, we hope that Bloom Energy's fuel-cell will prove that fuel cells are an integral element in our quest to solve our power generation needs, and that hydrogen fuel cells can be the long term solution to replace oil based transportation fuels.
So to wrap this up and let you read the article below...Near Term Solution – ICE Powered Vehicles burning E-85; Long Term Solution - Non polluting efficient and abundant Hydrogen powered Fuel Cells...why not? fellow Americans
SUNNYVALE, Calif. February 24, 2010; Bloom Energy Corporation, a Silicon Valley-based company committed to changing the way people generate and consume energy, announced today the availability of the Bloom Energy Server™, a patented solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology that provides a cleaner, more reliable, and more affordable alternative to both today’s electric grid as well as traditional renewable energy sources. The Bloom Energy Server provides distributed power generation, allowing customers to efficiently create their own electricity onsite. The company introduced its groundbreaking technology at an event hosted today at eBay Inc. headquarters along with California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, General Colin Powell, and several of its early customers.
“Bloom Energy is dedicated to making clean, reliable energy affordable for everyone in the world”
Built using abundant and affordable materials, Bloom’s fuel cell technology is fundamentally different from the legacy “hydrogen” fuel cells most people are familiar with. The Bloom Energy Server is distinct in four primary ways: it uses lower cost materials, provides unmatched efficiency in converting fuel to electricity, has the ability to run on a wide range of renewable or traditional fuels, and is more easily deployed and maintained.
Unlike traditional renewable energy technologies, like solar and wind, which are intermittent, Bloom’s technology can provide renewable power 24/7.
Each Bloom Energy Server provides 100 kilowatts (kW) of power in roughly the footprint of a parking space. Each system generates enough power to meet the needs of approximately 100 average U.S. homes or a small office building. For more power, customers simply deploy multiple Energy Servers side by side. The modular architecture allows customers to start small and “pay as they grow”.
Bloom’s customers have deployed the solution to lower and/or fix their energy costs, while significantly cutting their carbon footprint and enhancing their energy security by reducing their dependence on the grid. Customers who purchase Bloom’s systems can expect a 3-5 year payback on their capital investment from the energy cost savings. Depending on whether they are using a fossil or renewable fuel, they can also achieve a 40-100% reduction in their carbon footprint as compared with the U.S. grid. Customers announced today include Bank of America ; The Coca-Cola Company ; Cox Enterprises; eBay ; FedEx Express, an operating company of FedEx Corp. ; Google ; Staples ; and Walmart .
Since the first commercial customer installation in July 2008, Bloom’s Energy Servers have collectively produced more than 11 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity, with CO2 reductions estimated at 14 million pounds – the equivalent of powering approximately 1,000 American homes for a year and planting one million trees.
“Bloom Energy is dedicated to making clean, reliable energy affordable for everyone in the world,” said Dr. KR Sridhar, principal co-founder and CEO of Bloom Energy. “We believe that we can have the same kind of impact on energy that the mobile phone had on communications. Just as cell phones circumvented landlines to proliferate telephony, Bloom Energy will enable the adoption of distributed power as a smarter, localized energy source. Our customers are the cornerstone of that vision and we are thrilled to be working with industry leading companies to lower their energy costs, reduce their carbon footprint, improve their energy security, and showcase their commitment to a better future.“
Powder to Power – How It Works
Founded in 2001, Bloom Energy can trace its roots to the NASA Mars space program. For NASA, Sridhar and his team were charged with building technology to help sustain life on Mars using solar energy and water to produce air to breath and fuel for transportation. They soon realized that their technology could have an even greater impact here on Earth and began work on what would become the Bloom Energy Server.
The Bloom Energy Server converts air and nearly any fuel source – ranging from natural gas to a wide range of biogases – into electricity via a clean electrochemical process, rather than dirty combustion. Even running on a fossil fuel, the systems are approximately 67% cleaner than a typical coal-fired power plant. When powered by a renewable fuel, they can be 100% cleaner. Each Energy Server consists of thousands of Bloom's fuel cells – flat, solid ceramic squares made from a common sand-like "powder."
“Today we are witnessing something special," said John Doerr, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Bloom Energy board member. "This is a new kind of product announcement. It comes long after a product has shipped and it comes directly from marquis customers. For years, there have been promises of new energy solutions that are clean, distributed, affordable, and reliable; today we learn that Bloom, formerly in stealth, has actually delivered. Americans want clean, affordable, energy, 24x7 -- and all the jobs that go with it. Bloom's boxes are a breakthrough, serving energy, serving demanding customers, and serving our country."
Bloom Energy’s management team possesses expertise across a number of relevant industries, including aerospace, high volume manufacturing, semiconductors, automotive, naval nuclear, and Silicon Valley startups. In addition to CEO Sridhar, the company’s board members include John Doerr, partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; General Colin Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State; Scott Sandell, general partner, New Enterprise Associates (NEA); T.J. Rodgers, chairman, SunPower; and Eddy Zervigon, managing director, Morgan Stanley.
Bloom Energy’s investors include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, representing the firm’s first clean tech investment, as well as Morgan Stanley, NEA, and Northgate Capital.
About Bloom Energy
Bloom Energy is a provider of breakthrough solid oxide fuel cell technology that generates clean, highly-efficient power onsite from virtually any fuel source. Bloom Energy’s mission is to make clean, reliable energy affordable for everyone in the world. The Bloom Energy Server is currently producing power for several Fortune 500 companies. The company is headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA. For more information, visit BloomEnergy.com.
How Solid Oxide Fuel Cells Work. An AFC consists of a non-porous metal oxide electrolyte (typically zirconium oxide) sandwiched between an anode (negatively charged electrode) and a cathode (positively charged electrode). The processes that take place in the fuel cell are as follows: 1. Hydrogen fuel is channeled through field flow plates to the anode on one side of the fuel cell, while oxygen from the air is channeled to the cathode on the other side of the cell. 2. At the cathode, a catalyst causes electrons from the electrical circuit to combine with oxygen to create negatively charged oxygen ions. 3. The negatively charged oxygen ions flow through the electrolyte to the anode. 4. At the anode, the catalyst causes the hydrogen to react with the oxygen ions forming water and free electrons. 5. The negatively charged electrons cannot flow through the electrolyte to reach the positively charged cathode, so they must flow through an external circuit, forming an electrical current. 6. At the cathode, the electrons combine with oxygen to create negatively charged oxygen ions, and the process repeats.
Solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs) use a hard, non-porous ceramic compound as the electrolyte. Because the electrolyte is a solid, the cells do not have to be constructed in the plate-like configuration typical of other fuel cell types. SOFCs are expected to be around 50%–60% efficient at converting fuel to electricity. In applications designed to capture and utilize the system's waste heat (co-generation), overall fuel use efficiencies could top 80%–85%.
Solid oxide fuel cells operate at very high temperatures—around 1,000°C (1,830°F). High-temperature operation removes the need for precious-metal catalyst, thereby reducing cost. It also allows SOFCs to reform fuels internally, which enables the use of a variety of fuels and reduces the cost associated with adding a reformer to the system.
SOFCs are also the most sulfur-resistant fuel cell type; they can tolerate several orders of magnitude more of sulfur than other cell types. In addition, they are not poisoned by carbon monoxide (CO), which can even be used as fuel. This property allows SOFCs to use gases made from coal.
High-temperature operation has disadvantages. It results in a slow startup and requires significant thermal shielding to retain heat and protect personnel, which may be acceptable for utility applications but not for transportation and small portable applications. The high operating temperatures also place stringent durability requirements on materials. The development of low-cost materials with high durability at cell operating temperatures is the key technical challenge facing this technology.
Scientists are currently exploring the potential for developing lower-temperature SOFCs operating at or below 800°C that have fewer durability problems and cost less. Lower-temperature SOFCs produce less electrical power, however, and stack materials that will function in this lower temperature range have not been identified.
SEE ALSO: How Bloom Energy Fuel Cell Works - Video