Energy in a Box

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From CNET News, the story of Bloom Energy:

Start-up Bloom Energy says it can deliver a power plant in a box. What is it and how does it work?

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company, which is generating some serious buzz this week, will officially announce on Wednesday what it calls the “Bloom box.” In an interview Sunday on CBS News’ “60 Minutes,” CEO K.R. Sridhar said the goal is to get businesses, and eventually consumers, off the transmission line grid and deliver power at a much lower cost with low emissions.

What is the Bloom box?
It’s a fuel cell. (See photo.) While that’s nothing new–as Greentech Media editor Michael Kanellos says, fuel cells have been around since the 1800s–it’s Bloom Energy’s secret sauce that makes it special. Kanellos said that the solid oxide fuel cell patents point to a “yttria stabilized zirconium” material. This formula is used to fabricate an ink-coated floppy-disk-size ceramic tile (with an ink-based anode and cathode) made from ‘beach sand.”

There’s more…

Driving Away Some of the Negatives

Few inventions have revolutionized our modern world like the automobile. It could be argued that the car was one of the inventions that made our world modern. Unfortunately, as it happens with new things, sometimes there are damaging unintended consequences or negative results that could not have been anticipated. TNT comes to mind or as in the case of some life-saving medicines, there are side effects that could cause havoc in — or even kill — a patient.

The car opened up interstate travel. It facilitated the development of the suburb and the exurbs after that. Many industries — with its many corresponding jobs — sprung up to cater to the new driving class. The smog, the long commutes, carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, traffic jams and an unhealthy dependance on foreign oil have come with the many advantages.

A car, being developed by GM and going into showrooms in about a year, is promising to eliminate at least some of those negative aspects of our driving culture. The Volt, which comes with an astonishing 230 MPG rating, runs must of the time on a rechargeable battery pack — weighing in at 400 pounds — aided by a small internal combustion engine. The new car will certainly help with out terrible pollution problem and it will lessen or use of fossil fuel; but the long commutes and the traffic jams will require more time and effort to improve.

Martin LaMonica, of Cnet’s Green Tech, was invited to take the new Volt for a spin:

Volt Test Drive

And here is the article he wrote about the experience.

I am sure there will be some side effects to the new technology, but it does seem like a step in the right direction. A ride in the right direction might be a better term.

Go GM, I’m pulling for you!

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Memo to U.S.: Invest $520 Billion, Save $1.2 Trillion

That’s the kind of return on investment that Bernie Madoff was promising investors. Except that this is not a Ponzi scheme.

This is the potential savings over 10 years for the United States. And it could be realized from things like home weatherization and the installation of more energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment in homes and businesses

A new report prepared by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company released today in Washington, enumerates the potential benefits as well as the difficulties that may prevent us from reaching that target.

Here are two takes on the new report. One from the New York Times and the other from CNET’s Green Tech Section.

This makes a lot of political, strategic and economic sense. Unfortunately, Washington understands only one of those terms.