After being in stealth mode for eight years, Bloom Energy unveiled its Bloom Box, a device which it believes will revolutionize the world, at a highly publicized media event on Wednesday.
The company unveiled its technology at a launch event at eBay's campus in Silicon Valley, attended by big names including former Secretary of State Colin Powell and the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Bloom is 60 percent cleaner than coal, said Schwarzenegger.
Below is a round up of some of the things the CEO and founder, K.R. Sridhar, said in the Q&A session at the end of the event.
Q: How much do the units cost?
A: Units cost $700-800,000 (before subsidy)
Funding is in the $400 million ballpark from a variety of investors
Q: What makes this cost competitive with the grid?
A: Sridhar says it needs to be like a feeding bottle. We need a subsidy in the early days, then we need to get out of it so we can help the economies that can not provide that.
Every large coal mine that happens, and the rights to that. They were all subsidized--so the conventional power you get is not market price power. It's subsidized. It's unfair to compare an emerging technology to that paradigm.
Q; What temp do these boxes run at?
A: 800 degrees Celsius, which is about 3x hotter than the inside of your car. And 2x cooler than the hottest part of your home furnace. We've built it so that you never get near that though--obviously.
Q; When you change fuel sources do any settings need to be changed?
A: Sridhar says the change requires no special tweaking. The box figures out what you're putting into it and keeps on working. In about a day.
Q: Could this be used in a car?
A: Sridhar: this tech is not meant to be in a car. The combustible engine is a beautiful thing. And if you can put hydrogen in there, why is everyone not doing that? primarily b/c of the cost involve in that infrastructure and safety. We've taken a stationary approach here.
Q: How green is the tech itself?
A: Sridhar says metal and sand that go into the boxes are recycled and reused. Bloom has also tried to reduce the chemicals needed to create these cells.
Q: Are you going to license the technology?
A: Sridhar says stay tuned.
Q: What's the most popular fuel?
A: Sridhar says natural gas is the most popular. Many people want bio-gas, but it's unavailable. The beauty is that those customers can get this system now and not worry about whether it will work with other types of fuel down the line.
Q: What goes into a fuel cell?
A: 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.
Q: How does it operate?
A: 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.
Q:Why they have been so quiet till now?
A: 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.
Q: Is this the next Google?
A: John Doerr (A venture capitalist and one of the first to invest in Google)--I hope so
Read More on Bloom Energy: