A team of Silicon Valley based technocrats, led by an Indian, KR Sridhar launched an energy server on Tuesday, which they claimed could convert air and virtually any other fuel source into clean electricity.
Among the customers already lined up to buy the ‘Bloom Box’ as it is called — after Sridhar's start up company, Bloom Energy — are Bank of America, Fedex, Coca Cola, Google and Walmart.
In a statement, Sridhar, who graduated from Madras University, said, “We believe that we can have the same kind of impact on energy that the mobile phone had on communications.”
Each box uses solid oxide fuel cells and can generate 100 kilowatts of power. The fuel cells are ceramic plates coated with a secret material that chemically react with oxygen and the source fuel like natural gas or biogas to create electricity.
The technology has its roots in the time when Sridhar worked with NASA on a project to create technology to help sustain life on Mars.
Bloom Energy was founded in 2001 and that idea was translated into reality on Earth. The 49-year-old Sridhar studied mechanical engineering at the University of Madras and got a doctorate in the subject at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
Sridhar said in the release, “We are fortunate to have foundation customers who embrace energy innovation as an important part of their overall business strategy.” Brian Kelley, President and General Manager, Coca-Cola North America Still Beverages and Supply Chain, said, “This new fuel cell technology has great promise and represents an important step for Coca-Cola in continuing to grow our business without growing the carbon footprint.”
The commercial servers cost about $750,000 each.