## Bloom Energy

Did anyone see the 60 minutes piece on the Bloom Box that was on last night? Do you guys think that this is a viable option in the alternative energy? Do you think that this could actually power all of our homes in the next decade or so?

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 This is an interesting development, the real question is how much more efficient is this than current power generation tech? You still need fuel, for example gasoline, but a slow chemical reaction could be orders of magnitude more efficient than combustion. I guess we'll find out Wednesday. Every bone in my body wants to declare shenanigans, but this so far appears to be legitimate. What is especially interesting is that many companies such as Google, Ebay, and Walmart are already using the industrial version of the Bloom Box.

## Bloom Energy

Maybe we should combine this string and the one I started yesterday. in the Electrical Engineering section.

KM
 How much more efficient do these boxes make energy (eg we put in X amount and we get out X + more)? Or am I misunderstanding what these boxes do?
 Well you can never get in more than you put out, but you can get closer to 100% efficiency. Think of a gasoline engine in a car, only a small amount of the chemical potential energy in the gasoline is converted into kinetic energy, a lot is lost in the form of heat.
 Recognitions: Homework Help Science Advisor If you want electrical power I would have thought it was difficult to make a fuel cell that is LESS efficent than combustion->heat->expansion->piston/turbine->generator. But if you want rotary motion then fuel->expansion->piston->crank is better than fuel cell->electricity->motor.
 Its nothing more than another flavor of a SOFC (Solid Oxide Fuel Cell). The "bloom box" is not some new source of energy, its an energy conversion device based on the same electrochemical principles that all other fuel cells use. And so far, Bloom Energy has made no claims that most other fuel cell companies can not. Until they make claims of conversion efficiency of over 75%, lifetime of 100k+ hours, and a very low price tag (from the video, they are no where close), its just another overrated start-up. BTW, you will never have one of these in your home unless you live in a very rural area. No one is going to trade electric wires for gas lines going to their house and pay an extra premium for it. Doing such a thing would be asinine.

 Quote by TaylorRatliff Well you can never get in more than you put out, but you can get closer to 100% efficiency. Think of a gasoline engine in a car, only a small amount of the chemical potential energy in the gasoline is converted into kinetic energy, a lot is lost in the form of heat.
Yeah, ok, that is what I meant

And sorry Kenneth Mann I didnt see your thread. I would think combining them would be fine.

 Quote by mgb_phys But if you want rotary motion then fuel->expansion->piston->crank is better than fuel cell->electricity->motor.
How do you figure? An ICE engine has 35% mechanical efficiency tops. Most never come anywhere close to that. SOFCs are usually 65-70% efficient, PEMFCs about 50%, and electric drive systems are around 95% efficient.

0.65*0.95 = 62% overall efficiency for a SOFC.

62% > 35%

I dont see how thermal engines are better?

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 Quote by Topher925 Its nothing more than another flavor of a SOFC (Solid Oxide Fuel Cell). [...] And so far, Bloom Energy has made no claims that most other fuel cell companies can not.
That's odd. Though there are several firms claiming they have products in development and are running demonstration projects, I can not find a single SOFC firm that is actually in production with a model competitive with Bloom. Australian based Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd seems to be closest as they have some demonstration projects but they are also not in production.

A comparable SOFC firm would have a turnkey residential/office size or larger compatible fuel cell in commercial production now, uses natural gas fuel with a 50% or better hydrocarbon-to-AC-electricity rating, with an upfront cost of $7.5 per Watt or better. For that matter, the only fuel cell firm I can find using any technology, not just SOFC, that is in the ball park with Bloom is Fuel Cell Energy in Connecticut; they cite 47% for a 300kW unit. . (That 3% difference is worth$7.2 million / year at 10 cents/kWh)

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 Quote by Topher925 How do you figure? An ICE engine has 35% mechanical efficiency tops. Most never come anywhere close to that. SOFCs are usually 65-70% efficient,
In one includes the reformer, I believe that's high by 10-15%. Theoretical or demonstration projects may do better but nothing actually on the market does. Still I agree no ICE will be more efficient than a fuel cell + electric motor.
 Recognitions: Homework Help Science Advisor I though SOFCs were nearer 50% - and that assumed running them on hydrogen ? Common rail turbo-diesel are almost 50% If you can get 65-70% from a SOFC on a reasonable fuel (CNG/diesel/LPG) that would be interesting

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 Quote by mgb_phys Common rail turbo-diesel are almost 50%
Do you know of a make/model? I heard of large marine diesels getting close to that but not locos. I thought most of the loco diesels in service were more like high 30's -40's.

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 Quote by mheslep (That 3% difference is worth \$7.2 million / year at 10 cents/kWh)
Thousand.

I guess I missed the 60 Minutes piece the first time around (back in February); but I saw it in re-run last night.

 Quote by Topher925 BTW, you will never have one of these in your home unless you live in a very rural area. No one is going to trade electric wires for gas lines going to their house and pay an extra premium for it. Doing such a thing would be asinine.
That's exactly what I thought when I saw the piece. And just because NG is cheep now doesn't mean it will be next year.

Also, they said the unit used "half" the NG as conventional power generation combustion turbines. I'm thinking that's good, but it's still making a hell of alot of CO2 compared to, say, nuclear...

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 Quote by gmax137 I guess I missed the 60 Minutes piece the first time around (back in February); but I saw it in re-run last night. That's exactly what I thought when I saw the piece.
Agreed. They're essentially suggesting replacing the E grid with a NG pipeline grid, to gain, what?
 And just because NG is cheep now doesn't mean it will be next year.
Given the shale gas reserves in the US reasonable gas prices are nearly certain at least in the near term.

 Also, they said the unit used "half" the NG as conventional power generation combustion turbines.
I missed "half". Bloom claims 50% efficiency, which is good but nowhere near twice as good as combustion, so 'half' the NG must be a bogus claim.

 I'm thinking that's good, but it's still making a hell of alot of CO2 compared to, say, nuclear...
True, but it sure would take a great deal of the difficulty out of reducing CO2 by pushing coal aside. Plus FC's like this can be supplemented with biogas, which would net out CO2 to near zero.

 Tags 60 minutes, alternative energy, bloom box

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