The news wires are buzzing today with hype surrounding the Bloom Box, a “revolutionary” micro power plant that is purported to produce a steady supply of clean, cheap, and efficient energy. The box is set to be officially unveiled this Wednesday, so details are scant and skepticism reigns, however the company has already garnered an impressive roster of clients including Google, Wal-Mart, Staples, and eBay (who purchased five boxes nine months ago and claims they are producing 100KW – enough energy to fuel 15% of their operations). Each box is about as large as a refrigerator, takes one day to produce, and uses a chemical process that combines oxygen and fuel to generate enough energy for 100 homes.
Bloom Energy claims that its new power plant is capable of producing cheap emission-free energy by combining oxygen with natural gas, propane, biofuels, or diesel. It does this without combustion through a chemical reaction that utilizes stacks of ceramic discs coated with special green and black “ink” interspersed with metal plates made from a cheap alloy. Current commercial units are expected to sell for $700,000 to $800,000, although plans have been announced for a $3,000 home unit down the line.
The Bloom Box may represent a breakthrough in grid-free clean energy, but only if it’s able to cheaply and efficiently produce power with little waste – a difficult proposition. In order for it to be considered a truly “clean” technology the device will also require a steady supply of biofuels. What do you think – will the device live up to its staggering expectations, or is this box powered by hype? Sound off in the comments!