A new San Francisco based startup unveiled a portable fuel cell on Wednesday, hoping to usher in a new era renewable green energy.
Bloom Energy, which has been drawing a lot of attention this week, officially unveiled its Bloom Box at a highly publicized media event on Wednesday.
The Bloom Box would allow homes and businesses to generate their own electricity, the company says, by turning waste or fuels into electricity.
We believe that we can have the same kind of impact on energy that the mobile phone had on communications.,Dr. KR Sridhar, principal co-founder and CEO of Bloom Energy said.
The Bloom Energy Server converts air and nearly any fuel source -- ranging from natural gas to a wide range of biogases -- into electricity via a clean electrochemical process.
The company said even running on a fossil fuel, the systems are approximately 67 percent cleaner than a typical coal-fired power plant.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sridhar, and venture capitalist John Doerr and former Secretary of State Colin Powell were at eBay's San Jose headquarters for the unveiling.
Bloom is 60 percent cleaner than coal, said Schwarzenegger.
Google, FedEx, Staples and Wal-Mart are among the companies beta-testing the technology; several Bloom Boxes are in use on the eBay campus.
Bloom Energy hopes to raise about $400 million from investors in order to mass produce its solid oxide fuel cells.
Below are some highlights from the event thus far. (Check back later for updates)
What goes into a fuel cell?
CEO K.R. Sridhar: Traditional fuel, natural gas, renewable fuel, biomass gas, landfill gas, and ethanol. Whatever you have. This fuel cell can take any of those fuels. And because of the unique chemistry, it can use that to produce electricity.
If you have multiple fuels, you can try to get the cheapest fuel into your box, and get the cheapest form of electricity based on market value.
How does it operate?
CEO K.R. Sridhar: Bloom Box can operate in two ways--converting electricity and storing it too. In a few years, we will use it is to get it hooked up as a home server to power your car and mix with solar. This won't be ready for 10 years though.
Why they have been so quiet till now?
CEO K.R. Sridhar: We had a moral obligation to not talk about something so many other people had talked about before without proof points. Those are products and customers. It took 8 years and over 400 million cumulative hours of making, breaking, improving this fuel cell to get it to where we needed to get it.
When introducing the Bloom Energy Server, Sridhar said, It's my baby, isn't she beautiful?
We wanted it to be something you're not embarrassed to have in your backyard. Nothing dangerous to shock you, or any vents. It's plug-and-play future of electricity.
Just like a server our technology is hot swappable. If a part of it is not working, it can be fixed without bringing down the rest of the unit, Sridhar added.