Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Bloom Box

Now this seems too good to be true, but is it?

In the world of energy, the Holy Grail is a power source that's inexpensive and clean, with no emissions. Well over 100 start-ups in Silicon Valley are working on it, and one of them, Bloom Energy, is about to make public its invention: a little power plant-in-a-box they want to put literally in your backyard.

15 comments:

Larry said...

It DOES sound too good to be true! Now if you'd saved this till the first day of next month....;)

Neal Asher said...

Of course some sort of combustible gas has to be fed in so for the householder it isn't that great an idea (I'm thinking back to my gas bill this winter, and wincing). However, he's saying this thing would be a great deal more efficient than your average gas-fired power station.

Larry said...

Hmmm, oygen and fuel in,but what comes out? What waste products?

Rod said...

Natural gas is mainly methane, and when it reacts with oxygen forms water and carbon dioxide, so at a guess, the waste products would be water and carbon dioxide.

Larry said...

Hmm,CO2! Better if it was USING CO2 and producing O2 but would require a hydrogen plant. One way around it of course would be to install the device in an area that uses CO2 and produces O2,and that would be somewhere like a greenhouse or conservatory filled with plants-then there would no waste being err wasted!

Neal Asher said...

Thinking about this, I'm not sure I see the advantage of using this over piping the gas direct into your house to a boiler for hot water and central heating - which are a house's main energy costs.

Rod said...

CO2 is just a guess (but most likely given what is going into it). I don't see anything that says they are burning the gas, and it's claimed as a reverse fuel cell, so it's probably a highly controlled reaction (without combustion) and is probably pretty efficient compared to just burning methane.

All this should be taken with a pinch of salt since my chemistry was limited to A-level, about 20 years ago.

Larry said...

@Rod,no worries,my Chemistry education is nonexistant!

Redcoat said...

Good enough to be partly true. It’s really just a fuel cell, so nothing new - you put your gas (methane, hydrogen) in and you get your electricity out. As I believe the young people say, "Meh". 60Minutes can hyperbolise if they like (and carelessly blur the distinction between energy sources and energy transfer media), and the manufacturers don't have to correct the implication that there is an exciting novelty about this, but unless you are putting in a combined-heat-and-power system somewhere away from the power grid I don't see a wide application.

Neal Asher said...

Now if someone linked up this with a composter, with integral junk mail shredder...

vaudeviewgalor raandisisraisins said...

since solar power is being bought out (the sun is broken most of the time ya know, unreliable) and wind power is impossible to manage with so many propellers (the wind breaks also, with self disgust, humorlessly) -guess this MUST be the answer. energy company buyout in 4...3...2..

the sun does work, seriously, you can have batteries that hold that energy. more panels means you can sell that electricity back to the power co. right?

you can mount a pinwheel on anything, one per household item.

Max Kaehn said...

It’s just an efficient fuel cell; the quality of the output depends on the quality of the input (and it’s important to make sure its input is pure— just feeding it gases straight off the compost heap could gum up its works). Now, if this solar-catalyst thing works for cranking out hydrogen, you could feed the hydrogen to the Bloom box: http://www.physorg.com/news187031401.html

Neal Asher said...

Of course if households start to become self-sufficient, that's going to put the government in a bit of a quandary: "How do we tax this with no money changing hands?" Then again, governments are very good at making up new taxes, doubtless it would be something like a recyled carbon tax.

TJ said...

re: tax - you have to pay an annual licence fee to have one, like a TV. Easy.

Jebel Krong said...

it is more efficient (supposedly as no-one actually knows what the "special ink-layer" actually is inside the things) than a lot of power-generation-methods, but it still outputs CO2, which makes it the wrong side of a proper fuel-cell. course proper fuel cells require lots of plainum which ain't exactly cheap or environmentall-friendly to obtain (unless you have easy access to mid-oceanic ridges).

lots of articles about this recently on tech blogs, ebay have been using a farm of the things on their main HQ campus for a while.

http://www.engadget.com/2010/02/22/the-bloom-box-a-power-plant-for-the-home-video/

http://www.engadget.com/2010/02/24/bloom-box-energy-server-hands-on-literally-with-video/

personally i still think local area small scale fission reactors are probably better - toshiba certainly make them for town-suppplying needs, and there's no greenhouse gas waste.