Saturday, February 20, 2016

Bloom Box: Energy System of the Future?

Global climate change is a serious problem humans must address in order to ensure our survival as a species on planet Earth. A major contributor to this climate change is the fuel burned in order to power homes and businesses around the world. A company called Bloom Energy wishes to address this issue with an invention it claims can produce zero-emission electricity using oxygen and fuel. This invention, popularly referred to as the Bloom Box, utilizes fuel cell technology in a new light. Bloom Energy's fuel cell is constructed using the cheap, abundant material of sand which is baked into ceramic squares and panted with secret green and black "inks". One fuel cell disk has the ability to power a light bulb, but the fuel cells may be stacked into brick-sized towers using metal alloy plates which allows for increased energy production.

K. R. Sridhar, the inventor of this technology, is confident that the Bloom Box will be able to provide power for businesses across the globe and residential homes, once the fuel cells can be manufactured in a cost effective manner. Sridhar, a former rocket scientist for NASA, got the idea for this technology from a project in which he was tasked with figuring out a way to produce oxygen on Mars. When NASA decided to scrap this mission, Sridhar had an idea to reverse his "Mars Machine" so that instead of oxygen being produced oxygen would be pumped in. Sridhar was able to invent a new kind of fuel cell in which oxygen is fed into one end and fuel is fed into the other. The fuel and oxygen combine within the fuel cell to produce electricity without the need for combustion or power lines from an outside source. The fuel most commonly used now is natural gas which does create carbon emissions. However, biogas, landfill gas, and solar energy can also be used as fuel for the Bloom Box, and the use of these fuels would result in a net of zero carbon emissions

Sridhar would be labelled a creative according to Gardner because he displays the characteristic of a divergent thinker. Instead of simply moving on after his Mars project was terminated, Sridhar came up with a unique way to utilize the technology he had be creating in order to produce a product with that may have the ability to provide clean, renewable energy. In addition, Sridhar is a creative individual because he has fashioned a product that seeks to help solve the issue of global climate change in a very novel way. Moreover, like any creative, Sridhar has a support system to help foster his creativity. Sridhar has $400 million dollars of investment at his disposal to continue to create and develop this technology further.

The Bloom Box has already been installed by well-known entities such as Google, FedEx, Walmart, Staples, and Ebay. The large boxes these corporations had installed cost between $700,000-$800,000. Ebay had five Bloom Boxes installed at its San Jose campus, and the company claims it has saved over $100,000 in electricity costs over a nine month period.

Sridhar is continuing to refine his production and manufacturing processes with the hope of scaling-down the corporate Bloom Box to a unit that would be affordable for the average home owner. His goal is to create a unit that cost about $3,000 and to have a Bloom Box installed in every home by the year 2020.

For more information regarding the science behind the Bloom Box:

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Nice find. It would be amazing if we could create such a renewable and sustainable source of energy. $3000 still seems to be a lot of money but I suppose in the long run, if it is efficient, can be cost effective and eventually you'll save enough money to pay off that principle payment.


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