SUNNYVALE, Calif. - Bloom Energy Corp. has announced the availability of the Bloom Energy Server™, a patented solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) technology that is said to provide a cleaner, more reliable, and more affordable alternative to both today’s electric grid as well as conventional fuel cells. According to the company, the Bloom Energy Server provides distributed power generation, allowing customers to efficiently create their own electricity onsite. The company introduced the technology at an event hosted at eBay’s headquarters along with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and several of the company’s early customers.

Bloom stated that its fuel cell technology is fundamentally different from the hydrogen fuel cells most people are familiar with. The Bloom Energy Server is said to be distinct in four primary ways: it uses lower cost materials, provides higher efficiency in converting fuel to electricity, has the ability to run on a wide range of traditional or renewable fuels, and is more easily deployed and maintained.

In operation, the company said the Energy Server converts air and nearly any fuel source - ranging from natural gas to a wide range of biogases - into electricity via a clean electrochemical process, rather than dirty combustion. Even running on a fossil fuel, the systems are said to be approximately 67 percent cleaner than a typical coal-fired power plant. When powered by a renewable fuel, they can be 100 percent cleaner. Each Energy Server consists of thousands of Bloom’s fuel cells - flat, solid ceramic squares made from a common sand-like “powder.”

The system provides 100 kilowatts (kW) of power in roughly the footprint of a parking space. According to the company, each system generates enough power to meet the needs of approximately 100 average U.S. homes or a small office building. For more power, customers can deploy multiple Energy Servers side by side.

Bloom said that customers can expect a 3-5 year payback on their capital investment from the energy cost savings. Depending on whether they are using a fossil or renewable fuel, they can also achieve a 40-100 percent reduction in their carbon footprint as compared with the U.S. grid.

Initial customers announced at the product introduction include Bank of America; Coca-Cola; Cox Enterprises; eBay; FedEx; Google; Staples; and Walmart.

Since the first commercial customer installation in July 2008, Bloom said its Energy Servers have collectively produced more than 11 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity, with CO2 reductions estimated at 14 million pounds.

“Bloom Energy is dedicated to making clean, reliable energy affordable for everyone in the world,” said Dr. KR Sridhar, principal co-founder and CEO of Bloom Energy. “We believe that we can have the same kind of impact on energy that the mobile phone had on communications. Just as cell phones circumvented landlines to proliferate telephony, Bloom Energy will enable the adoption of distributed power as a smarter, localized energy source. Our customers are the cornerstone of that vision and we are thrilled to be working with industry leading companies to lower their energy costs, reduce their carbon footprint, improve their energy security, and showcase their commitment to a better future.“

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Publication date:03/01/2010