K.R. Sridhar, the inventor of what’s known as “the Bloom Box” is a bona fide rocket scientist. Sridhar developed an oxygen production cell for NASA to make oxygen for a projected Mars mission. When NASA dropped the mission, Sridhar set to work transforming the cell into an energy production unit be reversing its function. Simple idea from a supremely complex and technologically advanced creation huh? Well, the news for the world is – it works. The Bloom Box is capable of producing enough energy to power anything with super efficiency and a drastically reduced carbon footprint. Why have you heard nothing about it? It’s was a secret.
The insides of the Bloom Box (some of them) were revealed on 60 Minutes this weekend for the first time. Sridhar spoke with CBS’s Lesley Stahl about the fascinating invention. According to the report, Sridhar’s work of art and magic has been powering elements of high profile companies for some time now. Google was the first company to utilize these “Bloom Boxes” in powering one of their data centers. Other companies like Amazon, eBay, and FedEx are on the bandwagon too. According to their testimonies, the Bloom Box power cells actually work at a great savings in both electricity expenditures and environmental impact. The good news? Bloom Energy is bringing them to your home soon.
What Is It?
The Bloom Box is basically a miniaturized, fairly self sufficient power cell. Basically, the unit takes in oxygen and fuel and outputs electricity. Enough to power your home or anything else for that matter. What’s the big deal? Well, scientists have been trying to develop super efficient power cells like this for over 100 years, now it looks like Bloom Energy has created the very first applicable to our current energy situation. The Bloom Box cell is unique in a number of ways apparently. Not much was actually revealed about these cells, but it is evident silica is used in conjunction with a chemical paint and metal plates to create the electrochemical reaction. Just how the air-fuel mixture is utilized is not fully clear, but it is apparent combustion is absent.
The unit, or cell, uses far less fuel locally than it takes to transmit power over what is called “the grid. ” Not only this, while using far more environmentally friendly fuels than say coal. According to Shridhar, the units can even use solar energy as a fuel. So, less fuel for the same electricity, less overhead, environmentally friendly fuels, equals a huge comparative value in every direction. Something the size of a shoe box basically, can make enough relatively clean electricity to power your home. More importantly, they can power homes in remote areas of the world too.
Bloom Energy has been funded by the same venture firm which invested in Google and Amazon, Kleiner Perkins in Silicon Valley. Like all investments, there is though. For one thing, Bloom Energy is not the only kid on the block trying to come up with cheap and efficient ways to skin the energy cat. But deciphering what Sridhar and Kleiner Perkins’ John Doerr had to say, somewhere on the order of half a billion in confidence has been put into these Bloom Boxes.
The only problem I see, and this may be one the company addresses in a couple of days, the energy input and total waste emitted have not been discussed openly. However, Google and the other companies have come forward with savings estimates compared to power consumer from “the grid.” From their statements on the order of 50% savings sounds good even for fuel consumption period.
The estimated cost of a household unit? Under $3000 according to Sridhar. If we consider all the positives of a solution like this, new variants of these units could very well replace our current electrical grid altogether in a few years. The science behind these “little wonders” is not nearly as important as the implication in my view. The boxes obviously create a sort of reverse electrolysis type reaction, but a highly efficient one. Regardless of the initial inventions ultimate widespread use, it is evident the pressure is on in the race to revamp our use of power.