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Old 23-02-2010, 23:28   #1
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Bloom Boxes

If they get these down to $3000 each it might mean electric engines become a reality :
The Bloom Box: An Energy Breakthrough? - 60 Minutes - CBS News
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Old 23-02-2010, 23:46   #2
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If it really works I would think the oil/power companies would have bought them out already. High production makes them cheaper.

We'll see!
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Old 24-02-2010, 07:52   #3
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"Sridhar feeds oxygen to it on one side, and fuel on the other."

What kind of fuel? How much of it? Think about it. What if the name in the sentence above was Morey instead of Sridhar? It would perfectly describe the internal combustion engine invented by Samuel Morey in 1826!

If he has invented something drastically new and revolutionary, great. We need that. But I am highly skeptical of any story about a revolutionary new technology that is being touted by the inventor on 60 Minutes, but has not yet been demonstrated and proven to independent and objective testers.
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Old 24-02-2010, 08:30   #4
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Originally Posted by denverd0n View Post
"Sridhar feeds oxygen to it on one side, and fuel on the other."

What kind of fuel? How much of it? Think about it. What if the name in the sentence above was Morey instead of Sridhar? It would perfectly describe the internal combustion engine invented by Samuel Morey in 1826!

If he has invented something drastically new and revolutionary, great. We need that. But I am highly skeptical of any story about a revolutionary new technology that is being touted by the inventor on 60 Minutes, but has not yet been demonstrated and proven to independent and objective testers.
The story mentions natural gas, bio-fuels or solar as the fuel source. It also mentions it is being used at Google, Walmart, Fedex and eBay and the one source did document a $100,000 savings already. I agree they need a lot more testing, etc but it is has been demonstrated and is in the hands of objective testers, or at least customers who were willing to put up the 300-500K for the units. Maybe a little farther along then what you suggest.
It will be interesting to see 3-5 years from now.

Jim
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Old 24-02-2010, 08:45   #5
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I watched the video. Lets "ASSUME" the bloom box was able to meet all of its claims and could be had for 3k. If that were so, the video claims the thing is about 50%-60% more efficient than alternative combustion type engines. What would this mean for boats?

Would they be used as generators? Would they be used as primary power sources? A lot of pretty interesting electric motors are coming out now that might be able to replace that diesel muscle if given enough charge to operate.

How much fuel to carry and the method of carry would probably change drastically. I wonder how it would affect refueling.

Environmentalism aside, I imagine that in a couple of generations electricity will be a lot cleaner and more reliable to produce and to store than horsepower and our old tired engines will go the way of the dinosaur. The bloom box and other technologies on the rise are just 1st generation attempts at this idea. The bb might not be perfect. Neither is that all solar yacht I linked in another thread. They're expensive and untrusted right now. But then again, so are almost all emerging technologies. Give it a few years. =)
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Old 24-02-2010, 09:12   #6
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The article does explain at some length. It's a fuel cell, yes, old technology but what he's done is get it down in size and efficiency. It will work off fossil fuels or bio-gas. They have sold about a 100 of them to large corporations who are kicking the tires. The current "problem" is they cost about 700,000. USD each. However it is said to produce inexpensive electricity if you factor out initial cost. He developed it for NASA to produce oxegen for the Mars mission but when that was scrapped he turned the idea around to develop electricity.
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Old 24-02-2010, 10:03   #7
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The claim that these things are emission free is bunk. At best they produce carbon dioxide and water if they use natural gas as a fuel. The claim is that they produce electricity at twice the efficiency of conventional means. Pretty much any fuel cell will produce electricity at twice the efficiency of a combustion method, so this is not new. It may get rid of the electrical power grid, but will require the building of a fuel grid, unless of course you happen to be lucky enough to have a natural gas well in your back yard. I noticed all the fuels mentioned were gaseous so you won't be running these things with diesel. His response to solar was probably theoretical rather than practical. You would probably have to generate hydrogen from solar to feed the fuel cells, and with the losses associated with the conversion steps you would probably be better off using the electricity directly. Hopefully this guy has really found a way to make cheap electrodes. That will go a long way towards making fuel cells practical for some uses.

In a boat, it might be possible to fuel one of these things with propane or CNG. I would suspect these things would easily be twice as efficient as a conventional generator, mostly because a conventional generator converts chemical energy to mechanical energy then to electrical energy, whereas the fuel cell skips directly from chemical to Electrical. The other nice thing about fuel cells is that they typically don't have many moving parts so they should last along time if the electrodes hold up over time.

LPG has only about 60% of the energy density per gallon as diesel, so you will need to carry almost as much LPG as diesel to go the same distance. This of course will need to be in a relatively heavy pressurized tank. This will be offset somewhat by the loss of heavy filter and pumping systems. It might be interesting getting that much fuel to the boat unless the start putting LPG pumps at the dock. Currently I usually have to take my tanks somewhere to get them filled. It's bad enough carrying a 20Lb tank back to the boat, let alone 60 or 70 gallons.

This thing is an interesting development, but not a panacea.
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Old 24-02-2010, 10:15   #8
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As Bill points out it's not a panacea - it's a developing technology.
It apparently doubles the efficiency for electrical production and that shows promise. Solar should still principally satisfy my electrical needs.
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Old 24-02-2010, 11:29   #9
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Those who watched the 60 Minutes piece might remember one of the Bloomboxes shut down unexpectedly, due to a clogged air filter. Clogged from "dirt from the highway".

Gotta wonder if salt contamination from salt air would also shut one down, making them totally unsuitable for marine use.

Nice if it works--but that's why it is still in R&D and not for sale to the general public. And why the developer "expects" to stick one in every basement--but hasn't installed them in any homes yet.
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Old 24-02-2010, 14:03   #10
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Nice if it works--but that's why it is still in R&D and not for sale to the general public. And why the developer "expects" to stick one in every basement--but hasn't installed them in any homes yet.
I bet he would sell you one if you had the 700K.

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Old 24-02-2010, 14:17   #11
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Someone needs to email them to be a tester for a boat.
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Old 24-02-2010, 14:24   #12
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Another thing that concerns me is they have spent $400M in developement money, it's not in 1 home and now the investors want their investment back plus a profit so they are going to have an IPO, how much is hype for the investors to recoup the $400M investment? I'll bet there is a lot more to it than we know at this stage.
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Old 24-02-2010, 14:55   #13
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What impressed me is his ability to think through and use or invent the materials others didn't think of...That is out of the box thinking...and is where true advancement comes from where other are stalemated or fail...just the kind of guy Id love to have a beer with.

Come on Obama Buck Up!
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Old 24-02-2010, 14:55   #14
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I also ran the numbers. Without tax breaks, it's about a 1.5% return. With them, about double that.

And no, this is NOT a green/clean technology. Still produces CO2.

Also, while the form factor LOOKS small (the cube), by the time they get the whole unit built, it's the size of a refrigerator!

Interesting technology - but hardly revolutionary, at this point.
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Old 24-02-2010, 18:40   #15
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How about one of these corvette motors running a generator. They don't use much fuel.


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