Bloom Energy Server (Bloom box)

A Bloom Box, officially known as an Bloom Energy Server, is a modular stack of solid oxide fuel cells that can produce electricity.

A Bloom Box, officially known as an Bloom Energy Server, is a modular stack of solid oxide fuel cells that can produce electricity.

A solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) is a high-temperature fuel cell that produces electricity from a chemical reaction. As long as air, fuel and heat are available, the process can continue indefinitely. A single fuel cell using natural gas or biogas for fuel, can power a light bulb.  A stack of SOFC, small enough to sit in the palm of one hand, can easily power the average home in the United States. 

Bloom Energy Servers can use either natural gas or directed biogas as fuel cell energy; both rely on methane as the fuel source. Although natural gas is a nonrenewable fossil fuel, it remains one of the least expensive and cleanest alternatives to combustion fuels such as coal or oil. By comparison, biogas is a renewable, methane-rich gas produced from decay in swamps, marshes, landfills, sewage and manure. 

Bloom Energy announced the Bloom Energy Server in February 2010. At the time of the announcement, five Bloom Boxes the size of a parking spot were providing 15% of the electricity for eBay's campus. Other beta customers for the product included Coca-Cola, FedEx, Google and Wal-Mart. Bloom hopes to make Energy Servers for homes available by 2020, at a projected cost of under $3,000 per unit.At the time of this writing, a 100 kilowatt Bloom Energy Server suitable for a business, costs $700,000–800,000. 

CBS 60 Minutes takes a look at the Bloom Box in this informative profile.

This was first published in May 2013

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