Aug 11, 2011

Blooming Technology!

It’s high time to think about conservation of our amazingly exhaustible resources like water, oil, natural gas, minerals and many more which occur naturally in our environment. It gives me immense pain, when I see these resources being “over-used “and “misused”.  Scaring me to the core about the abundant wealth not being reached to our off springs! Being a layman I feel helpless in salvaging all of them, apart from following my sweet little own ways to save electricity, plastic usage and using recycled and  nature friendly products. News updates say that researches are being undertaken to retrench, reduce and reuse the valuable resources.

One thing that left me open mouthed is this little small wonder box “The Bloom Box”. Technically called as “Bloom Energy Server”, developed by a California based company broadcasted on Feb 24th 2010 CBS News program called 60 Minutes with K.R. Sridhar, CEO of Bloom Energy, an Aeronautic Engineer by profession shown walking the correspondent through the Plant.

What is Bloom Box and how it works?
Basically it is comprised of fuel cells. As per Wikipedia, Fuel cell is a device that converts chemical energy from a fuel to Electricity through a chemical reaction. These cells are said to be the building blocks of Bloom Box. Which are made into thin small square tiles as compact as 100 X 100 mm metal alloy plate with the sand and coated with green and black ink on either side.  One tile has the capacity to power a bulb. These fuel cells are stalked on to make a tower plating alloy in-between.  All these are shelved in a cabinet, which is as big as a refrigerator. Then this unit is fed with oxygen on one side and fuel on the other side. Fuel here may be generated from fossil, solar or bio gas.

Sridhar says that this single unit can power four to six houses in Asia which equals to a single home in US. He believes that this box really works simply because he had already invented a similar device for NASA, which could hold oxygen in and be used on Mars from there it just continued his invention.

How does it look like?

How much it costs?
Mr. Sridhar almost spent a decade in shaping up this device to its present state with $400 million investment approximately. According to him it takes nearly 64 stacks of fuel cells to power a small business unit. The corporate boxes cost around $700,000 to $800,000. The plans are under process to bring down the cost to $2,000 per box sooner or later.

Who all are using it?
Mr. Sridhar proudly says that he is already having some 20 renowned customers in the list  who are using it silently. With Google as its first customer adding to the list FedEx, Walmart, Staples, Ebay and  it goes on and on. Walmart is considered to be consuming the most among all with 800 kW.

What are the advantages?
Fundamentally its emission free, thus keeping our environment clean.
Its wireless, hence it’s safe.
Least maintenance.
24/7 and 365 days supply.
Compact and saves  space.
Efficient and affordable.

As mobile phones replaced landlines, laptops with desktops, so it is the turn of large electric grid with a refrigerator sized customized power plant. Mr. Sridhar envisions about bringing this box in every home in US, Africa and Asia in 10 years down the line. Well, Great things come in small packets!

Bloom Box just made me go WOW!