The "Bloom Box": The future of energy, or delicious BS?

There's lots of buzz (normal buzz, not our patented Science Buzz) on the 'net today about the "Bloom Box" featured on 60 Minutes this weekend.

It seemed to me to be a pretty junky interview and feature, but I'm intrigued nonetheless; the Bloom Box is supposed to be an efficient new fuel cell that would allow electricity to be produced at the site where it will be used, eliminating transmission losses, and efficiently converting fuel to energy.

It runs on hydrocarbons, but it sounds like it's pretty omnivorous as to the kinds it can use (so natural gas works, but so would carbon-neutral biogas, etc), and it presumably emits CO2, only much less of it than traditional power generation. (The interview was extremely fuzzy on that aspect, but the Atlantic's article about Bloom from a month ago says that the device does release CO2.)

Something like 20 companies in California are already testing Bloom Box units, and the people making them to have attracted a ton of money, so the technology doesn't look quite so pie in the sky as a lot of other energy inventions we're supposed to get excited about.

The guy behind the Bloom Box believes that, inside of a decade, you'll be able to have one in your basement for something like $3000 dollars. More expensive than a used Super Nintendo, but, as far as major appliances go, pretty darn cheap. We'll see about that, sir... The featured skeptic seems to think that, if we see it at all, we'll see it coming from a company like GE, not Bloom Energy.

Here's the 60 Minutes piece:

Watch CBS News Videos Online

The whole operation has been kept pretty secret until recently, and supposedly there will be more details coming soon.

But until then... What do you think? Ho-hum? Hoax? Or is this something to be excited about?

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

I should also say that the inventor of the Bloom Box sees it as something that could bring electricity to folks who are totally off the grid, like a third-world village. That'd be kind of cool, right?

But I suppose there are other options for powering the third world that don't involve complex and perhaps fragile fuel cells.

posted on Tue, 02/23/2010 - 1:28pm
jjbutterscotch's picture
jjbutterscotch says:

the future is in OOOUUURRR hands!!!!

posted on Tue, 02/23/2010 - 1:32pm
JGordon's picture
JGordon says:

An article on the Bloom Box (or "Bloom Server") unveiling at the Ebay headquarters today. A little more information, but still not too much.

posted on Wed, 02/24/2010 - 5:09pm
Matt's picture
Matt says:

Sounds cool. I'm pretty sure someone will be coming up with something like this some day, why not now?

posted on Sun, 03/20/2011 - 12:12pm

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