Bloom Energy has just brought to the market a new fuel cell system that is able to run on various fuels. While working on natural gas, it can decrease the CO2 emissions by half compared to conventional power sources.
For several months already, some major companies like Google, eBay, Walmart, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Cox Enterprises, FedEx, and Staples use the technology provided by Bloom Energy, generating a of total 11 million kilowatt hours of electricity (enough to power 1,000 homes for a year).
It is said that the new fuel-cell system is profitable after 3 to 5 years, depending on the monthly energy bill. This fuel cell reduces not only the costs with the energy bill, but as well with the investments that have to be made in the grid line. As the power is generated on-site, there is no need for the grid to distribute energy anymore.
Not all details are available at the moment about the new fuel cell. We only know that it is a solid-oxide fuel cell (SOFC) which operates at high temperatures (over 600 degrees Celsius) and is able to run on different fuels. SOFCs are able to generate even more power than conventional turbines but because of their costs and reliability problems they were not commercially spread.
Based on a statement made by Jeff Bentley, CEO of CellTech Power, the new fuel cell should be based on planar solid oxide fuel cells. These types of fuel cells were developed by KR Sridhar, CEO and founder of Bloom Energy, while he was a professor at the University of Arizona. Bentley is now developing its own fuel cell that can run on diesel fuel and even coal.
The modules put on market by Bloom are the size of a parking space and are able to power a small supermarket. They are made of 25-watt fuel cells stacked together to reach 100-kilowatt of power. This equipment produces DC power which is then converted into AC power for consumer use.