Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hype over: Bloom Box revealed in CA

The secretive Bloom Energy Co has revealed its new fuel cell. There's even a specifications page, a price, and they are apparently taking orders. The specs are for 100KW rated output for $700,000. That's a whopping $7 per installed watt, which is about the price of the cheaper solar systems and way more expensive than wind, solar thermal, improved insulation, or coal, oil, and natural gas combustion. It uses methane for fuel, either from geological or biofuel sources, and it puts out the same amount of CO2 per unit fuel as any other methane device. It does however, have the higher overall efficiency of a fuel cell, over 50% thermal efficiency, which compares well to that of the internal combustion engine, but poorly to that of natural gas combined heat and power systems.

This is only a breakthrough if they can get the price down, and/or come up with biogas generation systems to match.

It is however, a good candidate for distributed generation of base load, so it goes on the same list as the Hyperion small-scale thorium reactor, and is a great potential contributor to grid security and grid hardening.

I don't see any mention of use for transportation. Is there something about the new solid oxide fuel cell format that prevents its use in a car or truck or train? I'd like to know.

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