Bloom Energy?

Anyone catch the 60 minutes special on this the other night? Thoughts? The website has a countdown which has about 30 minutes left till it expires. Not sure what to expect when it hits zero, but I’ll be keeping an eye on it.


Briefly, they have a proprietary fuel cell technology. It runs on natural gas and generates electricity. They claim it to be cost-effective.

They provide it as a unit weighing 10 tons which generates 100 kW of electricity.

[quote]Bill Roberts wrote:
Briefly, they have a proprietary fuel cell technology. It runs on natural gas and generates electricity. They claim it to be cost-effective.

They provide it as a unit weighing 10 tons which generates 100 kW of electricity.[/quote]

I think they said any gaseous fuel. The e-bay guy said they run thiers on landfill gasses or something.

Also I think if what I am hearing is correct, it is roughly 50% more efficient at making electricity from antural gas compared to the normal combustion method. I think the google place stated that number.

From what I am reading online through various sources, Natural gas combustion produces electricity in the 8-10 cent per kHW, if this dropped it to 4-5 cents per kWH, that would be pretty cheap overall. It would likley make running electric cars much more feasable especially if they had a small natural gas reserve tank installed with one of these cubes onboard the car for on the go generation.

Anyways, seems like a stepping stone to free energy. Cut the cost in half a few times and it becomes basically free. I mean water isn’t free, but 40 bucks every 3 months for municipal water is hardly a cost prohibitive resource.


It sounds as if it would be economical if the equipment is not too expensive and has a sufficiently long service life.

From a personal standpoint, if the machine does what they say it will and he can sell me one for 3,000 bucks. It would take 6 years for me personally to pay for the machine. I would then expect another 6 years MINIMUM in order for the investment to be worth it. I would only be saving about $500 bucks per year at my current usage levels.

However, throw an electrical vehicle in the mix, offset my gasoline pump expense of approx $50 per month, it would increase my savings on electricity to roughly $800 per year. That is assuming the electric car costs about the same in pure dollars to fuel per month.

Either way, it’s not likley to be a major factor at the residential level, of course being off the grid would have it’s own benefits. Or perhaps in the beginning years, you could sell energy back to the grid if you are producing excess. Perhaps a home with electric heat or industries which have a higher electric load would see much improved benefits from this.


Being a 10 ton machine, it will surely cost much more than $3000.

However, you don’t need 100 kW.

As a rough estimate one unit could power 30 homes let’s say. (They say 100 but it seems to me that that would be dependent on the homes drawing power at a constant rate, rather than the real world situation where for example on a hot day, everyone runs their air conditioners and draws many times the power that they ordinarily do.)

I looked at their “how it works” slideshow. It requires heat input via steam to operate. Have they factored the combustion required to produce this steam into their efficiency calcs?

The only energy input required there is what is required to bring it up from a cold start. Once operating, it maintains its own temperature and recycles the steam.

Looked at it a bit more. There is no real diagram of the inside of the box, but I’m guessing that each box has a small combustion-fired steam generator to drive the heat side of the process. If so, then the emission calcs could be realistic. The real question is payback rate, from costs over the lifecycle like Bill said. No real data on their site about that. If it was my company, and payback rate was good, I’d be advertising the shit out of that fact.

There might be a combustion-driven steam generator to bring the fuel cell to temperature, but once to temperature, there is no need to produce more steam. The fuel cell reaction maintains the necessary temperature, which – they give a figure of 800 C – is well above the boiling point of water.

If they say water, they are referring to the name of the molecule rather than meaning it is in liquid phase.

I just read an article i’ll dig up, but the cost per unit is 7-800k. Seriously. I’ll wait to buy mine.

So, even if we value a kW hour at 11 cents (which is high) and neglect the cost of the natural gas, the maximum value produced per hour would be 11 dollars.

Or, imagining that the unit were operated at 100% continuously, a maximum of about $96K worth of electricity produced per year.

In reality, the natural gas will cost money, the electricity will usually not be worth 11 cents per kW hour, and usage will not be at 100 percent.

That is not worth $700K.

I think the cost will drop big if it works. He is producing these things one at a time. If he has someone like GE or one of the big manufacturers make them the cost will drop per unit. If they qualify for subsidies they should fly off the shelves. I know solar in PA can be installed at about a 75% discount once you take advantage of all the rebates and incentives.

I’m a natural skeptic. I won’t be the first to buy one in my town…but I’ll be thinking about it.

In other words, for something that produces less value than the inputs required to build it, other people – who get nothing out of it – will be made to pay 75% of the cost, so it can wind up being a good thing?