Bloom Energy, the Kleiner Perkins-backed fuel-cell startup reported to “almost certainly have a commercial product ready within a year or two,” has just licensed thermal management technology for its fuel-cell development. Under the licensing agreement, Bloom will pay Modine Manufacturing Co. $12 million for the technology rights to produce thermal management systems using Modine’s technology.
The agreement also stipulates that Modine will provide products and services to Bloom Energy through December 2009, about the time we hear Bloom might be unveiling its 5-kilowatt Bloom box. In a successful test at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga, over the past two years, engineers ran the refrigerator-sized Bloom box on natural gas for 6,000 hours and found it to be twice as efficient as a boiler burning natural gas, with 60 percent lower carbon emissions. The thermal energy management system licensed from Modine is crucial in allowing the fuel cell to run long periods of time without overheating.
Bloom has reportedly pulled in $250 million over the last six years. As the company approaches production of a commercial product we expect to start hearing more about Kleiner’s stealthy Sunnyvale, Calif.-based fuel-cell bet.