The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough?

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  • peterakopeterako Solar Expert Posts: 144 ✭✭
    Re: The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough?

    Checking up the site and datasheet from bloom energy. It is my understanding that it is not producing heat it just needs it for internal use.

    also these are 100KW units so scaling down to house hold units will take the price to around 30.000 dollar. that is not bad in this fase off development and i do not see a problem to drop the price to 3000 dollar mass production.

    But there is alot to proof still.

    If the price drops it can be a nice one to replace my generator.:D

    Greetings from Greece8)
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough?

    Please see The Next Big Future for an article and spread sheet about this item.

    http://nextbigfuture.com/2010/02/bloom-energy-currently-costs-128-cents.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+blogspot/advancednano+(nextbigfuture)

    1. Still no operations or maintenance costs are considered.

    2. The company costs per kWh all seem to include maximum incentives

    3. Efficiency is given as 52% with no waste heat capture

    4. No waste heat capture is discussed

    5. The assumption is that you can ratio down the cost per kW - typically it is the opposite - as in the bigger the better and cheaper per unit of output.
  • peterakopeterako Solar Expert Posts: 144 ✭✭
    Re: The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough?

    I agree Russ i have seen the same on the bloom energy site.

    My understanding is that there is no waste heat to capture. :confused:

    But thinking about a system whitout moving parts like a engine and generator setup.
    And maintenace is only replacing air and fuel filters. Plus near silence operation.

    A generator charger battery and inverter setup is not a good solution eder and can cost easy around 12.000-15.000 to power a off grid house whitout solar and wind power.
    So i think that if it realy works that only mass production will help to pring price down to 10.000 for a 6KW unit :roll:. In that case i will replace my battery and inverter.:D

    Greetings from Greece
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough?

    So if this thing works out, do you think it will put solar installers out of business or decrease installations of solar?
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,992 admin
    Re: The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough?

    With no heat recovery, no backup power capabilities (grid tied), and the price per gas from the spread sheet about 1/2 to 1/3rd the retail cost of natural gas in California--the costs work out to about the same as Grid Tied solar (rebates and tax credits rolled in)...

    My GT solar system costs are not based (partially) on the cost of natural gas--so there could be some upside cost risks for the fuel cell system.

    The bigger issue is the whole rebate/credit structure that is currently bleeding our governments (and eventually) our utilities dry of cash.

    My home (relatively efficient) uses perhaps $30 of electricity per month. Roughly, 1/2 of my bill goes to the utility for distribution system, and the other 1/2 goes to pay the power plant for making the electricity.

    Now, with grid tie, I pay $5.50 per month for my power (I generator more power than I use currently with my system). So, I am moving power into the grid during the day, and moving power out of the grid at night--All things being equal, my utility has lost about $10 a month in income (if not more because of my two way power use) to maintain the local infrastructure. Somebody needs to make up that loss with higher power bills (and California has some very steep power costs right now that are driving companies out of the state).

    It is these very high power costs that make Bloom and Grid Tied Solar competitive in the first place... As more people/companies go with decentralized power generation, the utilities are going have to raise rates even higher to keep the infrastructure serviced (and generators on standby for cloudy weather, etc.).

    But--in the end, what might kill of of this is nuclear power and if the new finds of non-traditional natural gas deposits (horizontal drilling/fracturing)--could make all of the small power (home/business) non-cost competitive.

    My 2 cents worth. :confused:

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough?

    One big point they have talked about are the customers they have for the 100kW units.

    We don't know what, if anything, those big customers paid for the Boom Box. May well have been provided free of charge to lick things off. For the amount of money sunk into the company so far it would be a perfectly reasonable thing to do - even if not terribly honest.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough?

    well if it equals out to the same price, i would imagine most residential consumers would lean toward one box rather than put a bunch of holes in their roof with multiple panels. it seems that something like this could roundhouse kick solar in the throat and knock it down.

    it seems to me that people feeding their families by income from the solar industry should be threatened by this.
  • EhutchEhutch Registered Users Posts: 9
    Re: The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough?

    I am all for dispersing generation as much as possible and the Bloom Box seems to save money and reduce carbon emmision by as much as half. I was a bit disappointed in the CBS 60Min segment where Lestley Stahl swooned over the "small" footprint of the Bloom Box compared to the size of the solar array (both at Google). It is an unfair comparison because the PV needs no fuel. To compare fairly, the"Bloom footprint" should include a storage tank with enough fuel to power the Bloom for all of the daylight hours of the next quarter century.

    The best use of Bloom would be to suplement PV and wind when those sources are inadequate. Battery storage makes much less sense. Bloom is still a very high carbon footprint solution.

    Ed
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,992 admin
    Re: The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough?

    The problem with distributed generation (grid tied to utility lines) is that you still need the utility generators.

    Also, the utility has no method of controlling the distributed generators which can cause major issues for for power network stability... There already have been multiple state wide and (in Europe) country wide events where wind power has been on the verge, or has actually overwhelmed the local grid and risked taking down the grid until the wind had died down.

    As long the amount of distributed power remains low (current law in California, IIRC, limits small generator power to 1% maximum of network generation capacity)--it is usually not a major problem. My guess is when distributed power is over 10% of a network's capacity--that utilities will need remote control of distributed generators to protect the grid (radio/network remote on/off switches at the very least).

    Also, at 10% and above, there probably would be the need for billing by the utilities to account for the distribution network capacity used by distributed generators... That is already happening today with commercial installations in California.

    For example, in this thread, was a news article about a school district that saw it power costs increase after they started installing large solar arrays because of reservation/demand charges (in California, about 1/2 of a commercial electric bill is based on 15 minute peak usage in the past year--in this case, as I understand, the peak solar output was higher than the schools peak loads):
    Schools hope rate will solve solar snag
    black.gifBills rose after panels installed

    The San Diego Unified School District had its electricity bills go up about $20,000 a year after it installed solar-energy systems at 28 schools, said J. William Naish, the district's energy management coordinator. The Lemon Grove School District also is paying more in energy costs – when its $2 million portion of the cost for solar panels is included – than it did before it added solar equipment.
    ...
    San Diego schools had planned to put in solar-power systems at 50 schools, but stopped because planners couldn't figure out why bills went up.
    ...
    State subsidies paid half of the $4 million cost of installing banks of solar panels longer than football fields at three Lemon Grove schools. The district figured its bills would be higher for a few years because of the cost of paying off the panels. But when Potter had her team crunch the numbers, they discovered the annual bills exceeded projections by more than $100,000 a year.
    ...
    As it stands, large users such as schools pay not only for the energy they use but for the fixed costs of transmission lines, towers and other equipment necessary to make sure power flows when the lights are turned on. They're called demand charges, and they're paid only by big users, not homeowners.

    That explains why Lemon Grove's three solar campuses ended up getting a bill for $3,630 in July – when they were closed and giving solar-generated electricity back to the utility.
    Another thread where utilities try to recover costs from distributed power uses:

    Got Solar Panels? Utility Wants To Charge You For Not Using Their Energy

    In the end, when subsidies for alternative distributed power end, and actual network billing is implemented--I believe that most of these "solutions" will die -- if not have to be disconnected/shutdown if/when they get hit with "their share" (yes, I know that this is a loaded term) of the utility's total costs of operation.

    Today, if people were paid for their generated power at the same rate the utility paid for other sources (in California, that is about 1/2 of the kWH costs)--most installations would never make economic sense. Some utilities charge/pay for the first 1kWH of generated power (vs just charging for avoid load)...

    In my case, that would be the difference of me getting paid $0.27 per kWHr and paying $0.09/kWHr (summer peak vs off peak) to me (in wost case) paying $0.27 per kWhr and getting paid back $0.14 per kWhr (peak summer rate). My power would cost me $0.14 per kWhr--I could go off Time of Use, disconnect my solar, and buy my power residential flat rate at $0.12 per kWhr...

    Were is my savings? In fact, we had a few years ago in California new solar installs cut to near zero for awhile. The state government was forcing new solar installations to go with Time of Use metering (high charges summer afternoons, low charges off peak). People were putting in smaller GT solar systems to see how they worked... It turned out for people with smaller GT systems (that could not offset 100% of home's energy usage) and heavy summer afternoon/evening loads (such as air-conditioning), they were seeing their bills go up...

    The whole Bloom Tech (and Grid Tied systems in general) can "go away" in a minute if the state changes their (our) laws again...

    In the end, these systems are allowed because they have negligible impact on the energy systems. If they become popular--that will change.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • GreenerPowerGreenerPower Solar Expert Posts: 264 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough?
    russ wrote: »
    Well, well ! more info coming forward, the bigger IF this becomes. Suppose they have come up with some "ceramic discs" that lasts and doesn't need regular maintenance, 52% efficiency is barely above coal/gas power plant in CO2 footprint. 10-ton, 100KW unit would "scale down" to 1/2-ton 5KW unit.
    Another spec : <70db @ 6 ft ? Is this the noise from a compressor ? (16 ps?g pressure input)
    Also it uses 480V 4-wire 3-phase AC (grid-tied is assumed).
    Not sure all these can be "scaled down" nicely. I'll give them a befefit of a doubt for now. More like these "hypes" are to get more funding.
    GP
  • peterakopeterako Solar Expert Posts: 144 ✭✭
    Re: The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough?

    Greenerpower.
    Do not forget that this is the spec. for a100KW unit ( dit you fisit a 100 kw diesel generator ;) or a industrial compressor )

    All this you must scale down. I yhink the noise for a home unit will be very low.

    A fuel cell is producing a DC voltage so it is not a big problem to have grid and offgrid electronic unit. This type off knowhow is easy to buy.

    Greetings from Greece
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,992 admin
    Re: The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough?

    Wind turbines in Texas (March 1, 2010):

    With strong breezes blowing early Sunday afternoon in West Texas, wind-power generation hit a record 6,242 megawatts on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas' grid, which serves most of the state.

    The wind generation peaked at 12:54 p.m., representing an exceptionally high 22 percent of demand at that time, ERCOT spokeswoman Dottie Roark said Monday. Most of the wind facilities are in West Texas and the Panhandle.
    ...
    After the wind generation soared Sunday, ERCOT curtailed it because the supply of electricity outstripped the capacity of lines to move the power to urban areas such as Dallas-Fort Worth.

    "We have more wind [generation] built in the west than can be accommodated on the existing transmission lines," Roark said. That's why ERCOT is overseeing a huge $5 billion project to build more lines from wind farms to the state's metropolitan areas, she said.

    As a result of the power constraints, the market price for wind power generated in ERCOT'S western zone fell to negative numbers early Sunday afternoon. That meant "wind generators would have to actually pay to continue generation," said Mack Grady, a professor of electric and computer engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.

    Texas has a total wind capacity of 9,410 megawatts, of which 8,916 megawatts is in ERCOT, Roark said. ERCOT's wind capacity accounts for more than 10 percent of the grid's total available generating capacity of 76,363 megawatts.
    With "non-traditional" decentralized power generation--there are expensive changes that need to be implemented to support it.

    Wind turbine companies are not making money by paying consumers to use their power--they are making the vast majority of the money based on subsidies and tax credits.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • GreenerPowerGreenerPower Solar Expert Posts: 264 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough?

    The more competitive choices to put the power co. to more "greener" technologies, the merrier. Some providers now offer "clean plan" (combination of hydro, wind, solar) at fairly competitive cost. In the long run, they are doing these at large scale and their cost and CO2 footprint could be competitive (at retail price) to our own solar/wind (but not sure about inflation, pricing in the next 20 years).

    More tid bits on Bloom, they may have found a way to keep the discs clean and last longer.
    ... the anode electrode is subjected to an initial electrochemical reduction. In other words, the electrochemical reduction is conducted prior to normal or commercial operation of the fuel cell in the fuel cell stack to generate electricity from fuel and oxidizer. In this method, an electrolysis potential is applied across the cell when the anode is in its initial oxidized state (i.e., the nickel is initially in the form of nickel oxide) in order to rapidly and preferably completely reduce the initial nickel oxide to nickel. For a commercial size fuel cell stack, a large power supply, such as a large battery, a battery array or a power supply attached to the external grid may be provided.

    ....The first cell is electrochemically reduced for 45 minutes using the above described electrochemical reduction method prior to its operation to generate electricity according to an example of the first embodiment. The second cell is reduced with dry hydrogen for two hours prior to its operation without applying a potential to the cell (i.e., the cell is idled in an open circuit configuration) according to a comparative example. As can seen in FIG. 2, the performance of the cell according to the example of the first embodiment (upper line marked "ECR" for electrochemical reduction) is improved compared to the performance of the cell according to the comparative example (lower line marked "CR" for chemical reduction) over 300 hours of operation of both cells.
    Eventhough this one talks about using hydrogen, they may have similar process for hycrocarbon ?

    GP
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 29,992 admin
    Re: The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough?

    The Clear Edge fuel cell that Jim/Crewzer posted had, what appears to be a natural gas to hydrogen reformer in its block diagram.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • russruss Solar Expert Posts: 593 ✭✭
    Re: The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough?

    One thing about patents - you put as little as possible in them and nothing you really you don't want everyone else in the world to know. Just meaning that information in a patent document is meant to be the minimum necessary and preferably confusing to the competition. The entire patent document is available to everyone in the world.

    Quite often a company will just keep something secret rather than patent it to prevent others from learning what they are doing. Companies try to add some twist in words and patent things a second time. Even with big companies that are technically astute İ would bet at least 75% of their patents are meant to impress customers and confuse the competition.

    İ spent a lifetime working (design, construction and operations) with industrial reforming (a little different critter) and it is not easy. Relatively small changes in feed composition, temp or pressure or product composition can make a real mess.
  • ggunnggunn Solar Expert Posts: 1,973 ✭✭✭
    Re: The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough?
    Sean Stutz wrote: »
    well if it equals out to the same price, i would imagine most residential consumers would lean toward one box rather than put a bunch of holes in their roof with multiple panels. it seems that something like this could roundhouse kick solar in the throat and knock it down.

    it seems to me that people feeding their families by income from the solar industry should be threatened by this.
    All things considered, I'm not that worried.
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