Bloom Energy officially unveiled its much-hyped Bloom Energy Server at a press conference today at eBay's headquarters. The 100KW fuel cell is designed to be used off-grid and to cut carbon emissions.
The launch was attended by California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and retired US general Colin Powell, along with representatives from many of the companies which have already purchased units, including eBay, Google, Coca-Cola, FedEx and Staples.
"When Bloom came to us, it was an easy decision to become an early adopter of its cutting-edge new technology," said John Donahoe, chief executive of eBay.
"As a result, we are meeting financial and environmental goals, while fuelling a more energy efficient global marketplace. That's good for us, our customers and the planet."
The solid oxide fuel cell consists of 4in x 4in wafers of baked sand coated with an ink that forms into an anode and cathode. A cheap metal alloy acts as an ion conductor, replacing the platinum used in similar products.
The device was developed originally at Nasa for use in Martian exploration, but was adapted for use as a fuel cell after the Mars project was cancelled.
Dr K R Sridhar, the inventor of the Bloom Energy Server, has received $400m (£262m) in start-up funding, and is selling the units for $700,000 to $800,000 (£458,000 to £523,000).
The company estimates that mass manufacturing would bring the price down to around $3,000 (£1,960) for a unit that would power an average home.
The company claims that carbon emissions can be cut by between 40 and 100 per cent depending on whether the devices are fuelled by hydrocarbons or renewable energy. EBay powers its systems on biogas from landfills.
Bloom Energy's first customer was Google, which has been using a 400KW unit for 18 months. The search giant said that, aside from some early teething problems with clogged air filters, it has seen significant cost savings.
"As we work hard to reduce Google's environmental footprint and improve our sustainability, we are pleased to be able to use on-site clean power generated by Bloom Energy," said Rick Needham, manager of Google's green business operations.
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