60 Minutes to air look at 'Bloom Box' fuel cells | The American Ceramic Society

60 Minutes to air look at ‘Bloom Box’ fuel cells

Via a note from Kristen Brosnan, I learned that Lesley Stahl and her 60 Minutes crew at CBS are doing a big story tomorrow (Feb. 21) on Bloom Energy and the apparent success of their solid oxide fuel cell system that has been packaged into what the company is marketing as a “Bloom Box.” Click on the picture above for a promo video.

Apparently, Bloom has moved testing out of the lab some time ago and has found success in testing five of the appliances on eBay’s corporate offices The CBS web site says:

John Donahoe, CEO of eBay, confirms Bloom Boxes were installed at his corporate campus nine months ago. The company says the boxes already saved them over $100,000 in electricity bills. “It’s been very successful thus far. [The Bloom Boxes] have done what they said they would do,” says Donahoe. The five boxes are able to produce five times as much electricity as the 3,248 solar panels that eBay installed on its campus roofs, says the CEO. “The footprint for Bloom is much more efficient,” he tells Stahl.

The CBS website report that Bloom Energy says each box could support 100 residences and cost $700,000-$800,000, and that a single-family unit might be available in another five years for an estimated $3,000.

The 60 Minutes story is something of a teaser. Bloom Energy, formerly known as Ion Technologies America, for quite some time has been advertising a “countdown” to a heretofore secret corporate unveiling.

I’ll try to get some reaction from the participants at ACerS’ upcoming Materials Challenges in Energy 2010 conference that starts Sunday night in Cocoa Beach.

… adding, if you want to know more about Bloom, and the role their investment partners at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, it is definitely worth checking out Jon Gertner’s Oct. 2008 long article written for the New York Times Sunday Magazine. The link takes you to the part of the article to gets the deepest into Bloom, but the whole article is a good read.

… also adding two additional data points. First, a post at earth2tech has some more information on what’s going to happen at Bloom’s big event Wednesday. More, importantly, there is some interesting information revealed about Bloom’s vision of its SOFC that came out in an October interview by Alison van Diggelen (Fresh Dialogues) in which Bloom Energy founder KR Sridhar expands on the Bloom Box’s potential as a generic hydrogen-creation machine. Here is the payoff in the exchange:

Alison: And I also understand part of the Bloom box is splitting out the hydrogen?

KR: That’s an option. People always ask, ‘it’s electricity – is it a fuel cell for the car?’ The answer is no. This is for stationary uses like buildings and houses.

So then the question is, you have a big transportation infrastructure that requires fuel for that. Transportation can potentially go in two directions in the future: one is a hydrogen infrastructure for the car, the other one is an electrical infrastructure. We’re already getting a lot more comfortable with plug-in hybrids… which is right on the horizon.

[. . .]

So, our device can either produce the electricity that will charge the car or provide you hydrogen if the transportation becomes hydrogen based. So we’ve sort of become the gas station for the transportation industry.

Alison: Your vision of the future with this KR…has been described as a refrigerator-sized device.

KR: That’s the ultimate vision. How we get there I cannot describe right now.

Alison: So that’s maybe,  what 20 years off…who knows?

KR: Silicon Valley time, ultimate is within a decade, right?

Alison: So it’s all within a decade.

KR: Right, right.

For additional recent CTT stories on SOFCs, see

Ohio Funding to bring better Li-ions and SOFCs

Can natural gas-SOFC combo be cheapest route to cleaner electricity?

Commercial rollout of residential SOFCs planned for Japan in 2014

First marine SOFC test

Lowering the temperature of SOFCs

Plans underway to market mobile SOFC products

Microtubular SOFC: Small is beautiful – and cooler and powerful

Planar anode-supported fuel cells

NexTech shows off big SOFC

DOE pumping $42 million into fuel cells