Bloom Energy just revealed its Bloom Box, a game-changing, energy efficient home fuel cell technology that could see its way into the eco friendly home within the next five or ten years. The information was released to much fanfare in California, with luminaries like Colin Powell and Arnold Schwarzenegger in attendance. It has also been recently featured on “60 Minutes.”
The heart of the Bloom Box is a fuel cell made from sand and treated with other substances. When fuel and air run over the fuel cell, the result is electricity.
What’s so special about that? Primarily, it’s the fact that the fuel cell is fuel-”agnostic.” That is, any kind of fuel could be used to power the cell, from natural gas to biogas. A stack of these fuel cells together can power an entire house, and a bigger stack can power a neighborhood. The electricity is generated right where it’s needed without having to be transported from far away.
Think of how power gets to your house today. We have an extensive, inefficient network of wires that goes from power plants burning dirty fossil fuels to your house. So you’re locked into the dirty fuel, usually coal. You are entirely reliant on it and have no way of producing your own electricity.
With a fuel cell like the Bloom box, you can choose the kind of fuel, usually a more eco friendly type. It could be biogas, biofuel, natural gas, or perhaps eventually hydrogen. If you use natural gas, turning it into electricity on site is twice as efficient as creating the electricity elsewhere and transporting it. You could also potentially generate more electricity than you need and sell it back to the grid.
While this all sounds too good to be true, it is not “vaporware.” Major companies like eBay and Google are already using these boxes to power their data centers. The boxes are expensive, but Bloom Energy hopes to get the price of a box that can power a home down to about $3000 or less in five to ten years.
I would love to get one of these small energy efficient home fuel cell boxes in my quest for the most eco friendly home possible–if they become available at a reasonable price. How about you…do you think the expense would be worth it?