Indian-origin scientist's energy "Bloom Box" is not revolutionary, say experts

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Washington, Feb 26 (ANI): Fuel cell experts have said that the "Bloom Box", which is an as yet unbuilt in-home "power plant" designed by an Indian-origin scientist, is not revolutionary, nor is it the cheapest or most efficient fuel cell system available.

K.R. Sridhar from Silicon Valley's Bloom Energy has developed the device.

Sridhar initially developed the idea while working with NASA, as a means of producing oxygen for astronauts landing on Mars.

However, when that mission was scrapped, he altered the device to produce energy instead.

The "box" generates its power wirelessly through a combination of oxygen and a fossil fuel - natural gas, bio-gas, etc.

Sridhar, a former NASA engineer, said he hopes to begin selling the mini-fridge-size Bloom Boxes within five to ten years.

"Each of the small Bloom Boxes should be able to power a household," he said.

At the heart of the Bloom Box will be solid oxide fuel cells-in this case, flat, coaster-size ceramic plates with a secret coating-widely considered by experts to be one of the most efficient types of fuel cells.

But, according to a report in National Geographic News, based on the information the company made public, the Bloom Box technology is not revolutionary, nor is it the cheapest or most efficient fuel cell system available.

"It's a big hype. I'm actually pretty pissed off about it, to be quite honest," said Nigel Sammes, a ceramic engineer and fuel cell expert at the Colorado School of Mines.

"It really is nothing new. Go to any (solid oxide fuel cell) Web site and you'll see the same stuff," he said.

Mike Brown, a vice president at fuel cell maker UTC Power-a competitor to Bloom Energy-also wasn't surprised.

"I think we had anticipated just about everything that's on their Web site," Brown said. "But it's nice to at least finally see something after ten years, which is about how long the Bloom Box has been in development," he added.

According to Friedrich Prinz, a fuel cell expert at Stanford University, the design of the Bloom Box appears to be fairly standard and that there was nothing obviously revolutionary about it.

"They didn't reveal any new physics or any new principles, but I don't think they need to do that," he said.

"They just need to take understood and recognized principles in material science and thermodynamics and implement them, and it looks like they've done that successfully," he added. (ANI)

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