'Bloom Box' on 60 Minutes tonight

Discuss life, the universe, and everything with other members of this site. Get to know your fellow polywell enthusiasts.

Moderators: tonybarry, MSimon

Maui
Posts: 577
Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:10 am
Location: Madison, WI

Post by Maui »

KitemanSA wrote:The CO2 is vented from the reformer.
This was my first question after watching the segment-- where does the carbon go? To many of us "no emissions" means no CO2. Still, half the CO2 would be a step forward, I suppose.

I'd be curious how the economics of thin-cell solar compare here. The claims on that front seem to be similar to the claims made here-- cheaper that conventional fossil fuel over the long haul, but not big enough to result in an industry-wide paradigm shift.

dweigert
Posts: 24
Joined: Tue Sep 11, 2007 1:09 am

Post by dweigert »

The missing solar piece is this: you can run them in reverse. Electricity in + water gives off H2 (for storage) and O2 to vent to the atmosphere. He originally developed the tech at NASA to use on a Mars mission to generate O2. Since these things use common materials in manufacturing, (cheap beach sand ceramic, two different "inks" and cheap alloy metal plates). These are a LOT less expensive than traditional rare metal catalyzed fuel cells. The stacks looked dead easy to assemble too (insert GEICO quote here).

kurt9
Posts: 566
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 4:14 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon, USA

Post by kurt9 »

I talked to one of my friends this morning who used to know the founder of Bloom energy. He tells me that there are considerable engineering challenges in making fuel cells work with Zirconium rather than Platinum. Also, even though Zr is considerably cheaper than Pt, the supply-demand curve is not flat and that scale up of this fuel cell technology will make Zr too expensive for such fuel cell applications. The other problem with using Zr as the catalyst is that it works only at high temperature (600degC and above) and that it is a meta-stable material. So, the material ages, resulting in reduced conversion efficiency and the life time of the material is an issue, especially because it can work only at high temperatures. Also, the high temperature requires the use of the super alloys that are used in jet engines as the electrodes and this material is also very expensive and hard to machine (these super alloys are harder than the high speed steels used to make machine tools), making it even more expensive to manufacture.

My friend believes that, even if all of these engineering problems can be over come, the materials costs make this fuel cell technology uneconomical in a competitive free market (that is, in the absence of government subsidies).

Aero
Posts: 1200
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 4:36 am
Location: 92111

Post by Aero »

At $700k - $800 k each and 100KW, the cost is $7-$8 /watt. With 50% subsidy (state and federal) costs compete with solar. Set at your own facility there is no "delivery charge" in the cost of the electricity so your cost is capital and natural gas. Fuel is converted to electricity at over 50% efficiency, whatever that means. I need a number like mpg, Natural gas costs X dollars per cu-ft, then electricity costs Y cents per kWh.

The data sheet, here.
http://www.bloomenergy.com/products/data-sheet/
Aero

MSimon
Posts: 14332
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 7:37 pm
Location: Rockford, Illinois
Contact:

Post by MSimon »

Aero wrote:At $700k - $800 k each and 100KW, the cost is $7-$8 /watt. With 50% subsidy (state and federal) costs compete with solar. Set at your own facility there is no "delivery charge" in the cost of the electricity so your cost is capital and natural gas. Fuel is converted to electricity at over 50% efficiency, whatever that means. I need a number like mpg, Natural gas costs X dollars per cu-ft, then electricity costs Y cents per kWh.

The data sheet, here.
http://www.bloomenergy.com/products/data-sheet/
1000 BTUs/cu ft. = .2931 Kwh/cu ft. At 50% efficiency .1465 Kwh/cu ft.

at $15/1000 cuft = $1.02 per Kwh so that is residential. Commercial is about 1/2 that price.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

MSimon
Posts: 14332
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 7:37 pm
Location: Rockford, Illinois
Contact:

Post by MSimon »

Let me add that residential electricity runs 10 to 30 cents a Kwh. And $1 per KW is considered a reasonable price for generation capacity. These devices might make sense as a way to keep the pipes from freezing in a winter outage. Enough electricity for essential services (heat - emergency light - phones)

If you could pay the wellhead price for natural gas and it stays low. These devices might make actual economic sense. Not counting capital cost.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

JLawson
Posts: 423
Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 6:31 pm
Location: Georgia
Contact:

Post by JLawson »

MSimon wrote:
Aero wrote:At $700k - $800 k each and 100KW, the cost is $7-$8 /watt. With 50% subsidy (state and federal) costs compete with solar. Set at your own facility there is no "delivery charge" in the cost of the electricity so your cost is capital and natural gas. Fuel is converted to electricity at over 50% efficiency, whatever that means. I need a number like mpg, Natural gas costs X dollars per cu-ft, then electricity costs Y cents per kWh.

The data sheet, here.
http://www.bloomenergy.com/products/data-sheet/
1000 BTUs/cu ft. = .2931 Kwh/cu ft. At 50% efficiency .1465 Kwh/cu ft.

at $15/1000 cuft = $1.02 per Kwh so that is residential. Commercial is about 1/2 that price.
Local gas company (Gas South) is selling a therm (approx. 100 cu ft) of natural gas for 81 cents, or $8.10/1000 cu ft. A therm=100,000 BTU.

This creates 100kw for .661 MMBTU (million BTU)

So we're looking (add 5, carry the 1, divide by 42...) at a cost of 6.7 therms for 100kw. $5.43 for 100kw, or 5.5 cents per kw/hr, unless I've totally fubared the numbers.

Georgia Power, for winter home use has a base charge of $7.50/month, 4.6 cents per kWh for the first 650kWh, then it drops to 3.95 cents per kWh.

Summer - Same base and first 650kWh cost, then it's 7.65 cents per kWh for the next 350, then over 100kWh it goes to 7.88 cents per kWh.

For a large business - there's a base charge of $16.75, and the first 3000kWh go for 10.85 cents, with the price dropping the more you use.

Ow. I can see why the Bloom Box would be damned attractive for businesses. I'm not so sure about home use - it'd really depend on the cost of natural gas in your locality and the price per kWh your electric company charges.

Or my math could be completely off and I'm comparing apples to kumquats divided by mangos...

(On review...) In case you're wondering, I rounded up on all calculated costs. 5.43 became 5.5 and so on... And I'm probably making a pretty dumb assumption here, that a generator with 100KW output sucking down .661MMBTU/hr can directly divide down through therm pricing to a calculated price per kWh. I'm not figuring in generator costs, but it seems to me if you're using industrial pricing for electricity, you'd recoup your costs in pretty short order...
When opinion and reality conflict - guess which one is going to win in the long run.

MSimon
Posts: 14332
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 7:37 pm
Location: Rockford, Illinois
Contact:

Post by MSimon »

Work with my numbers (simpler) and find out where I made my mistake then scale for $8/1000 cu ft. I think you will come in a little above 50 cents a KWH.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

JLawson
Posts: 423
Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 6:31 pm
Location: Georgia
Contact:

Post by JLawson »

I figured I ought to use what was on the site - .661 MMbtu, or 661,000 BTU per hour at 100KW.

A therm = 100,000 BTU, so it uses 6.61 therms, at 81 cents a therm, for 100KW. 6.61*.81=$5.36 (rounding up...)

$5.36 / 100KW = 5.36¢ /kWh for fuel.

Not sure how you're getting 50 cents - what am I missing here? Maybe I'm using therms instead of cubic feet? Am I misplacing a decimal somewhere?

If the price for fuel IS only around 5¢ (why in heaven's name did they take the cent symbol off modern keyboards? Alt+0162 is so EASY to remember...:?) it would explain why Google and EBay were able to cut their costs considerably.
When opinion and reality conflict - guess which one is going to win in the long run.

MSimon
Posts: 14332
Joined: Mon Jul 16, 2007 7:37 pm
Location: Rockford, Illinois
Contact:

Post by MSimon »

1000 BTU = .2931 KWh.

1000 BTU = 1 cu ft of natural gas.

293.1 KWh = 1,000 cu ft. at $15 per 1,000 cu ft. I get about 5.11¢ per KWh. Double that for 50% efficiency. And then by 1/2 for $7.50/1,000 cu ft.

Musta dropped a decimal point.
Engineering is the art of making what you want from what you can get at a profit.

JLawson
Posts: 423
Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 6:31 pm
Location: Georgia
Contact:

Post by JLawson »

MSimon wrote:Musta dropped a decimal point.
Happens to me all the time. Makes it hell balancing my checking account... :D
When opinion and reality conflict - guess which one is going to win in the long run.

Aero
Posts: 1200
Joined: Mon Jun 30, 2008 4:36 am
Location: 92111

Post by Aero »

New hit song, maybe rap. "Beans in a BloomBox." Flatulent power, How much beans for a family of four, powers the house and sells some more. Turn down the heat and do your part, you want that toy you'd better .....
Aero

kurt9
Posts: 566
Joined: Mon Oct 15, 2007 4:14 pm
Location: Portland, Oregon, USA

Post by kurt9 »

Here's what a friend of mine who is familiar with the technology had to say about it:

They don't name the ceramic but I don't think there are choices other than partially stabilized zirconia (psz in the trade).

Price = $800k for 100kW. So capital recovery alone at a very generous 8% return rate and 10 year life is 16¢ a kWh at 100% duty cycle and nobody EVER manages that with anything. Also requires it to last 10 years, I think 5 is the safer guess.

Fuel costs shouldn't be TOO bad unless it is remote. Depending on some efficiency fudge factors you get 15-20 kWh per gallon of gasoline or diesel or kerosine. Depending on location and situation that can cost from $1-5 under reasonable conditions. Thus 5 to 33¢ per kWh for fuel if it is liquid fuel or propane (with about 10¢ being the 'normal' cost). Much less for plumbed in natural gas.

gregw
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2009 11:07 pm
Location: Louisville, Ky.

Post by gregw »

I'm developing a data center right now that requires 9 megawatts of critical load, that means I need 90 of these units @ $750,000 ea for a total capital investment of $67,000,000. The building in it's current configuration with 7 back-up generators cost $33,000,000 to build, and electricity here in KY. (read coal) is 5 cents/kwh.

Non-starter for this application

KitemanSA
Posts: 6114
Joined: Sun Sep 28, 2008 3:05 pm
Location: OlyPen WA

Post by KitemanSA »

Maui wrote:
KitemanSA wrote:The CO2 is vented from the reformer.
This was my first question after watching the segment-- where does the carbon go? To many of us "no emissions" means no CO2. Still, half the CO2 would be a step forward, I suppose.
After further investigation, it seems that they use the H2 side electrode as part of the reformer and the CO gets reduced on that electrode. This if new to me.

What annoys me is the tease that these were for home uses but their only product is a 100kW unit; hardly home size! Condo-size maybe, but certainly not "home size".

None-the-less, an interesting technology.

Post Reply