If you had the chance to catch 60 Minutes on Sunday, you saw their exclusive on Bloom Energy. The company has been in stealth mode for some time, but all of that appears to be over. As reported by Lesley Stahl, which you can view in the video embedded below, Bloom makes a fuel cell that will be used to power homes (in the future) and commercial buildings (right now).
Pictured above is K.R. Sridhar with a fuel cell stack â€“ two of these could power the average American home. A retail store like Starbucks could be powered by about 64 stacks. Each stack is made with multiple fuel cells.
The fuel cell is made with a layer of sand that is baked into a ceramic and then coated with proprietary green and black â€œinks.â€ This is then sandwiched by a metal plate made of a cheap metal alloy to complete the fuel cell.
The core of the Bloom box is made with multiple stacks. The boxes require a fuel, such as natural gas, landfill gas, or bio-gas, which reacts with air in the fuel cell to create electricity.
Bloom boxes, according to Stahl, have been purchased and are being tested by 20 large California companies, including Google, FedEx, Wal-mart, Staples, and eBay. The ones bought by FedEx cost $700,000 – $800,000, with substantial state and federal incentives available to cut back the cost.
In five to ten years, Sridhar expects smaller Bloom box units in the residential context, with a unit costing somewhere less than $3,000. It's an interesting prospect to consider. In the meantime, Bloom Energy appears ready to blow the lid off their website tomorrow.
Media credits: 60 Minutes/CBS.