BloomEnergy Hype?

SUBHEAD: The BloomEnergy Box is extremely heavy and produces CO2 exhaust. Image above: Computer rendered perspective of a proposed nuclear energy plant from the Nuclear energy Institute ( By Stan Lenihan on 13 March 2010 in Yuma Sun - ( In response to the Editor's Notebook on March 7 about fuel cell innovations, some people think that the Bloom Energy company's claims are more hype than fact. One of the main problems is the weight of their fuel cells. These fuel cells average 200 pounds per kilowatt. For comparison, a 200-horsepower engine is equivalent to 149 kilowatts. That comes up to a power plant weight of about 29,828 pounds or about 15 tons. But, even if we only want the equivalent of a 2-horsepower gasoline generator, it would still weigh about 300 pounds. That's a pretty heavy "loaf of bread" sized fuel cell! The second problem is where do you get the fuel? Apparently, they are using a "reforming" process to get hydrogen from methane and use the hydrogen as fuel for their current fuel cell. That's good to get rid of the methane because it's 25 times as bad a greenhouse gas as carbon dioxide and there are plenty of sources of methane, such as animal waste and arctic permafrost, which is melting at an alarming rate. However, the problem is that the methane molecule has one atom of carbon and 4 atoms of hydrogen. No matter how you hack it, that carbon atom has to eventually become a molecule of carbon dioxide. If you just burned the methane in a gas turbine, you can get about 50 percent efficiency compared to about 47 percent efficiency from the fuel cell! Let's say we just use hydrogen gas and get it by hydrolysis of water using electricity. That would be the only 100 percent environmentally friendly way to generate power with a fuel cell. We could get the electricity from a nuclear reactor, which is the only way to generate electricity without producing carbon dioxide. But, what the heck, (if you can live with nuclear energy) why not just use this electricity in an electric car and forget the fuel cell (BloomBox)? See also: Ea O Ka Aina: Bloom Energy Box 3/13/10 .


jonathan jay said...

go nukes!

Joseph Michael Culhane said...

Interesting perspective, I'm interested in seeing the developments of this technology.

Post a Comment