As described in the previous post on Bloom Boxes, Bloom had its big unveiling today. Bloom boxes are in fact Solid Oxide Fuel Cells running at 800 degrees C. There were no surprises and no magic in the announcement. You can learn more about Bloom Box technology on the company’s web site:
What has been left out of the whole discussion of Bloom Boxes is the fact that that there are many competitors to Bloom who are already moving in the marketplace. And if Bloom begins to succeed, there are many more large industrial competitors who will be able to quickly appear. SOFC technology has been around for a long time, and it is not especially complicated. What Bloom clearly has is an outstanding PR department, and its VC partners have been able to help Bloom land a number of high-profile clients for initial installation.
We discussed two competitors in the prior post, so let’s start with them.
1) Ceramic Fuel Cells is creating SOFC boxes for home use, and these boxes produce hot water as well as electricity:
The box is called BlueGen. “Over the course of a year the BlueGen can produce over 17,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity. The average house here in Melbourne has a demand of 6,000 to 7,000 kilowatt hours per year, so you would be able as a household to sell that electricity back to the grid.” That video also mentions the 60% efficiency number, and notes that electricity delivered to a home is typically 20% efficient.
2) FCO Corporation –
3) Panasonic showed its home fuel cells at CES 2010, generating both hot water and electricity:
4) Eneos Celltech – a joint venture of Nippon and Sanyo:
The co-generation system offers the superb functionality of fuel cells in a compact and easy to use form, and can even provide you with hot water from the heat it generates producing power.This amazing energy system is the ENE-FARM household-use fuel cell co-generation system.
5) California State University has had a 1 megawatt fuel cell system in use since 2007:
The plant is supplied by Fuel Cell Energy
6) Ebara Ballard:
Ebara Ballard is a jointly held company of Ebara Corporation and Ballard Generation Systems with a mandate to supply Ballard Generation Systems fuel cell generators incorporating the Ballard fuel cell to customers in Japan. The company is taking part in the New Energy Foundation project (NEF) and the Japan Gas Association (JGA) demonstration project. Both programmes aim to commercialise small stationary fuel cells in Japan.
7) The University of South Carolina has a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Center researching applications:
The center is one of 31 Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) being set up by DOE’s Office of Science at leading universities around the country for advanced scientific research on energy. Sixteen additional centers are being established at DOE national laboratories, non-profit organizations and private firms across the nation.
8 ) DuPont
9) Toshiba makes home fuel cells. Although they seem to be a bit behind the curve.
And so on. It should be interesting to see how this segment develops over the next two years. If anything, Bloom’s huge publicity this week will help move the segment forward more quickly.