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Thread: Bloom box ?

  1. #1 Bloom box ? 
    Forum Isotope (In)Sanity's Avatar
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    So what's everyone's take on the "Bloom Box" ? Just another technology that's been hyped up, will fissile out, be squashed or just doesn't work as advertised ?

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13924_3-10457646-64.html

    Be curious to know what some our brighter members here think of this.


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  3. #2  
    Forum Isotope
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    I'm willing to bet it's just been hyped up, albeit probably a great device. I don't think it's going to meet the standards the advertisement implies it has.


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  4. #3  
    Forum Isotope Bunbury's Avatar
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    Itís a fuel cell that runs on natural gas so it releases carbon dioxide as a waste product. I havenít been able to find anything on the web about fuel to electric power conversion efficiency but like any fuel cell it has got to be more efficient than a combustion engine and if installed locally then the transmission losses that central power plants suffer are eliminated. On the face of it it seems like it has the potential to be a cleaner power source than conventional central power plants and transmission systems, but not as clean as wind turbines or solar cells.

    Iíd say itís definitely a development worth keeping a skeptical eye on.

    http://www.associatedcontent.com/art...g3.html?cat=15
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  5. #4  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    According to the 60 Minutes piece on it this last Sunday, they are already in use successfully at eBay, Google, and a few other high-tech companies. The challenge (as I understood it) was that scaling production will be tough to do while lowering costs... That's the lynch pin... Can they lower costs while scaling?

    Otherwise, it's little more than a clever fuel cell...



    It was a good story if anyone hasn't seen it yet:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6228923n
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    The challenge (as I understood it) was that scaling production will be tough to do while lowering costs... That's the lynch pin... Can they lower costs while scaling?
    Could we re-frame that to say that while efficient in operation, its embodied costs are more? Kinda like some free energy schemes.
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  7. #6 Re: Bloom box ? 
    . DrRocket's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (In)Sanity
    So what's everyone's take on the "Bloom Box" ? Just another technology that's been hyped up, will fissile out, be squashed or just doesn't work as advertised ?

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13924_3-10457646-64.html

    Be curious to know what some our brighter members here think of this.
    The discussion in the link is not particularly specific with respect to the details of the process, but I don't see any violations of basic science.

    Apparently it is a technology that uses natural gas to produce electricity. There are ways to do that that are pretty conventional -- gas fired generator stations and thermocouples leap to mind. So I see no reason to doubt that this device does indeed produce electricity.

    The real question is economic. Does it produce electricity from natural gas in a manner that is cheaper overall than gas fired generator stations coupled with transmission and distribution lines ? In short, is local production of electric power with this technology more economical than central production couples with transmission and distribution ?

    As a stand-alone technology you would also have to factor in the economics and other effects of local failures. If all you have is a Bloom box and it fails, you are out of power. On the other hand if you have a mix of local generation capability and central generation then you have a redundant system and increased reliability. Is the Bloom box more or less efficient than a local generator using diesel, gasoline or natural gas fuel ? I can't tell from the blurb.
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  8. #7  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Note, natural gas is not required. Solar or wind power could be used (at least, according to the inventor/CEO).
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Note, natural gas is not required. Solar or wind power could be used (at least, according to the inventor/CEO).
    You must be reading something other than the link provided in the OP.

    From that link:

    "What kind of fuel does it use?
    Fossil fuels like natural gas or renewable fuels such as landfill gas, or bio-gas, and solar."

    One would presume that any solar power is in the form of focused light to produce high temperatures.
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  10. #9  
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    It was from the interview done with him in the 60 Minutes link I shared (at time point roughly 7:45 minutes in).
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    It was from the interview done with him in the 60 Minutes link I shared (at time point roughly 7:45 minutes in).
    The fact that some large companies are evaluating the technology and are producing useful electric power is encouraging.

    However, the inventor's interview leaves me a bit cold and suspicious. His "magic formula" is a bit strange. If he has a patent, then the formula is public. If he does not have a patent, then I am extremely leery.

    I heard nothing with regard to use of wind power, and I don't see how that would be possible. Given that the technology appears to be some sort of fuel cell, I don't see how solar energy could be used alone, although it might be used to raise the temperature. The box that was shown could clearly not use solar power without significant modification.

    Hydrocarbon fuel for fuel cells has been studied, and it works, but it is not as efficient as hydrogen alone. At some point all the fuel cells that I know of break down hydrogen, releasing electrons that comprise the electric current and later combine the hydrogen ion, the elecrrons and oxygen to produce H2O. I would assume that the Bloom box is doing something quite similar.

    I think this cmpany is interesting, and will be interested to see what comes of it in the next couple of years or so. But I am sufficiently skeptical that it is really a major breakthrough that I would not invest. I tend to agree with the technical writer in thinking that there are a lot of people with deep knowledge of fuel cell technology, and that if anything major is on the horizon, the final product is likely to say "GE" on the box. Secrecy of the sort in evidence in the interview makes me uneasy.
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  12. #11  
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    I suspect this fuel cell is really a partially refillable battery: it's "efficiency" is pre-charged in the factory. Periodic replacement of a platinum catalyst or whatever is hidden inefficiency.

    Consumers often overlook embodied costs of their efficient products. And from the producer's end there is more profit to be made in selling people what effectively operate as recyclable batteries.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    I suspect this fuel cell is really a partially refillable battery: it's "efficiency" is pre-charged in the factory. Periodic replacement of a platinum catalyst or whatever is hidden inefficiency.
    You may be right, but there is no hint of it in what is discussed on the web site or in the interview.

    He claims that is derived from technology developed when the inventor worked for NASA on oxygen generation, only run in reverse. That sounds like fuel cell chemistry.

    NASA technology is public. So I wonder just what it is that he is protecting with his secrecy.
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  14. #13  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrRocket
    I heard nothing with regard to use of wind power
    Indeed, it seems I misspoke in my post above. Only solar was mentioned during the interview. Mea culpa.

    Also, I tend to agree with your larger assessment, which I'll summarize as, "Yeah, well... we'll see."
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  15. #14  
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    As a stand-alone technology you would also have to factor in the economics and other effects of local failures. If all you have is a Bloom box and it fails, you are out of power.
    Not if the neighbour has one also. The risk of local feillure is bigger if a whole area depends from one powerplant. Then the neighbour is far away. So it must grow and grow but then the losses increase.

    For a small scale use it is also a big advantage if it can use different sources for fuell. That decreases dependency also. Especially if fuells could be mixed randomly for storage like different types of biogas and methane for a farming area. That,s a big advantage for the environment as less distribution is needed. Depending the season different fuells from different sources could be produced and mixed. Then with these days governments have interest in lowering co^2 so some tax advantages and or subsidies can be expected to help overcome initial starting problems. So I think taken it,s time the known powerplants have had there longest time for certain.

    That would be good also because the large scale of these powerplants works against new developments. More diversity and smaller scale things can evolve easier and faster.
    For instance if a in farming area you have this and some solar cells all small scale The electricity of the solar cells can be used directly as dc electricity or produce hydrogen from water ( with no need to store the oxygen). So the rendition of solar cells indirectly increases also. For different situations, locally and during seasons smart combinations can be made of different technicques and for every new technicque the ease of combining and fitting in helps to overcome starting problems. Therefor financieng new developments becomes more attractive...etc.
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  16. #15 Re: Bloom box ? 
    . DrRocket's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (In)Sanity
    So what's everyone's take on the "Bloom Box" ? Just another technology that's been hyped up, will fissile out, be squashed or just doesn't work as advertised ?

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-13924_3-10457646-64.html

    Be curious to know what some our brighter members here think of this.
    CNBC did a piece on the Bloom box today. The econimics are rather fuzzy. Apparently it is econimical in California, because of extremely high electric utility rates, but not in other states,

    It was also stated that it is not "green"in the sense of reduced emissions of carbon-bearing molecules but rather the opposite, as compared to conventional methods of power generation.

    There seems to be a lack of technical understanding of the process, at least outside of the manufacturing company, which is rather tight-lipped.

    I remain in a wait-and-see mode.
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