Bloom Box: Frequently asked questions
Bloom Energy officially announces its Bloom Box Wednesday. What is 'the power plant in a box,' how does it work, and can it deliver on its clean-energy claims?
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Aerospace engineer K.R. Sridhar is CEO of Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Bloom Energy. Before founding Bloom Energy, Dr. Sridhar was a professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, as well as director of the Space Technologies Laboratory at the University of Arizona. Sridhar once made devices for NASA, including one similar to the Bloom Box.Skip to next paragraph
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Who’s financing the venture?
Venture capitalist John Doerr, the man who funded Netscape, Amazon, and Google, is financing Sridhar’s invention to the tune of some $400 million. Other board members include former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
How much does a Bloom Box cost?
Corporate-sized Bloom Boxes cost between $700,000 and $800,000, Sridhar explained in his "60 Minutes" interview, but his goal is to bring the cost down to $2,000 to $3,000 to make them affordable for the average person. However, Bloom Energy likely plans to make use of federal subsidies for clean energy, including a 30 percent tax break for corporations.
Is anyone using them yet?
Yes. Google, FedEx, Wal-Mart, Staples, and eBay are among Bloom Energy’s most high-profile corporate customers. For instance, eBay now fuels 15 percent of its San Jose, Calif., campus with the five Bloom Boxes it installed nine months ago.
Is this too good to be true?
Possibly, say skeptics. Bringing the expensive technology to the masses is no easy task, as Michael Farrell indicated in a recent Monitor article. And it's nothing new, says Michael Kanellos, editor of Greentech Media, an online magazine that covers the clean-energy market. “People have tried fuel cells since the 1830s,” said Mr. Kanellos on "60 Minutes." “But they’re not easy. They’re like the divas of industrial equipment." Plus, he added, to be practical, "they have to work for 30 years nonstop. And then the box has to be cheap to make.”