Bloom Energy Sees Green in Fuel Cells

Startup counts eBay, Google, FedEx as customers

Fuel cells have long been a green dream for environmentally-minded techies: combustion-free power for homes and businesses.

Now K.R. Sridhar says his well-funded startup, Bloom Energy, has made it a reality.

Sridhar previewed his company's $700,000 product, the Bloom Box, for 60 Minutes on Sunday. Next, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company plans to unveil it to the world on Wednesday.

The Bloom Box takes any number of fuel sources, like diesel, natural gas, or propane, and converts it to electricity through a chemical reaction. It can also store electricity produced by clean sources like solar or wind. But it's only as clean as its energy source.

Sridhar hopes to put a Bloom Box in homes, though the price will obviously have to come down by orders of magnitude. For now, energy-hungry businesses are its first customers.

Google, for example, has been testing the Bloom Box in one of its data centers. FedEx is using one in its Oakland, Calif. hub. And eBay has Bloom Boxes installed at its San Jose headquarters.

eBay CEO John Donahoe says the company has saved $100,000 in electricity costs so far, and his company is hosting Bloom's public unveiling later this week.

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