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I suppose someone will immediately wonder why this fuel cell design is considered new. After all, fuel cell technology has been around since the 1800s. NASA has used it successfully in all of its space programs for many decades. While the operational concept is similar to what we know, this specific design is significantly less expensive and smaller as well as more diverse.
Normal fuel cell designs require hydrogen to be stripped from the fuel source and allowed to combine with ambient oxygen in a process that causes the movement of electrons, which provide electrical current. They generally have to use a single fuel source.
The new design is less expense to make, uses a variety of fuel sources, provides electricity more efficiently and is easier to maintain. The system can be stacked to provide as much power as needed. For example, the system that runs the corporate campus for eBay consisted of hundreds of cells stacked into a space that was slightly larger than a normal parking space. An actual cell is basically made from sand or silica to make a ceramic material. The ceramic plates are then painted with an ink that makes the plates behave as an anode and cathode. The cells can use fossil fuels or renewable fuels to power them. They can be set up to power individual homes.
The company estimates that it will normally take 3 to 5 years to realize a payback for investing in such a system. Depending upon the fuel used to power the cell, the carbon emission reduction is significant over coal-fired power supplies. The company said that the system should be 67 percent cleaner using fossil fuels than a typical coal-fired system. Homes would not need to rely upon the electrical grid. Image the improvement just from eliminating the transmission wires.
So, who is this mythical supplier? The company is Bloom Energy. Their website is www.bloomenergy.com. The site includes testimonials and a video explaining how their system operates. Could this be the next BIG thing?