Bloom Energy to Open the Kimono Next Week?

29 Comments

Holy smokes — stealthy fuel cell company Bloom Energy is actually having an event next Wednesday, February 24, in San Jose, Calif. On that morning the company plans to host Bloom Energy CEO KR Sridhar, Kleiner Perkin partners John Doerr and General Colin Powell, as well as “a prominent California government official.” There’s not much more information than that in the invite, but it’s interesting because Kleiner Perkins-backed Bloom Energy, which has been developing a refrigerator-sized fuel cell device, has done basically no PR to date.

Despite being very quiet, 8-year-old Bloom Energy has raised $250 million in financing — “10 times as much capital,” compared to other venture companies Kleiner partner Doerr noted recently — and reportedly raised money last year at a pre-money valuation of $1.45 billion. The company has been reported to have started commercial shipping last year and to be selling widely commercially this year. We’re betting that this is the first coordinated public unveiling of the 5 KW Bloom boxes (which the Kleiner site describes as “a flexible fuel cell system that produces clean, reliable and affordable energy from a wide range of fuels,” reducing carbon emissions by 50-100 percent per kilowatt).

Previous Earth2Tech coverage of Bloom Energy:

Bloom Energy Worth $1.45B? Fuel Cell Maker Seeks $150M Series F

Bloom Energy CEO: Fuel Cells for Home Power Will Hit “Grid Parity” Within 5 Years

Bloom Energy CEO: We Can Be the Gas Station for Transportation

Bloom Energy: “Close” to Unveiling Its Fuel Cell

29 Comments

russ
  • No 5 kW box – in the future
  • No great efficiency – similar to a combined cycle gas turbine 52%
  • No waste heat to collect
  • No quick start so will not be like a standby generator – takes time to heat up
  • Scaling down the size the cost per kW can only increase – Ä° don’t think this will become interesting for at least a few years to come.
  • Must be operated 24 hours a day – no information available on turn down capability

Sorry but this is just an attempt to collect funds it would seem!

Jim

Gees, are you guys shills for Bloom energy? This must be the fifth article about them. It’s not too hard to figure out what’s in the Kimono. either. Check out
http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/isru97/PDF/SRIDHAR.PDF

They are heating up a silicon plate to act as a conduit for oxygen. A solid electrolyte. Pretty clever, but it also means it needs to be kept very hot, which means slow start up time and possible safety concerns.

It’s a solid oxide fuel cell. That’s what it is.

In the 60 Minutes piece, Sridhar said it was twice the efficiency of a power plant. But that doesn’t make sense as combined-cycle plants using natural gas can run 55-60% efficiency. So I assume he means the 30% one could get from a smaller turbine (like a Capstone turbine). So their efficiency claim is probably 60%, which is in line with other solid oxide fuel cells.

In the end, it’s all about cost. Sridhar wants to get the box down to $2,000. Since 2 boxes are needed for an American home, that means each box produces 500-1000 Watts. Call it 1,000 Watts. The home would still need some kind of buffer for surge uses, not sure how that will work. Anyway, the cost GOAL for the Bloom box is $2,000/kW. We already can do that now with combined cycle plants (albeit on a much larger scale). I guess they think distributed power has other advantages (there are some, like making use of the waste heat perhaps) but this doesn’t seem to be a slam-dunk technology-wise. The are just burning natural gas more efficiently.

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