A Skeptic's View of the Bloom Box

GreenTechMedia's Michael Kanellos Has Some Doubts About The Bloom Box

Bloom Energy will unveil its Bloom Box this Wednesday, and its CEO K.R. Sridhar told "60 Minutes" correspondent Lesley Stahl he'd like to one day even see one of his boxes on the lawn at the White House.

Sridhar managed to secure hundreds of millions of dollars from investors and his boxes are being tested by some of the country's most prominent firms, including Walmart, Google, eBay and FedEx.

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But there are critics, including GreenTech Media's editor-in-chief, Michael Kanellos.

"Well, let's talk about Bloom. How has Bloom gotten to have such an enormously high profile of most of the companies out here, that's the one you hear about?" Stahl asked.

"Yeah, you do. And it's a cool idea," Kanellos said. "You know, they wanna almost make instant energy. But they're also kind of sprinkled with stardust. You know, Al Gore talks about them. You see the CEO palling around with Tom Friedman at Davos. So there's a certain whiff of celebrity."

"I'm skeptical. I'm hopeful but I'm skeptical. 'Cause people have tried fuel cells for since the 1830s," Kanellos said. "And they're great ideas, right? You know, producing energy at an instant. But they're not easy. They're like the divas of industrial equipment. The little plates inside have to work not just for an hour or a day, but they have to work for 30 years, nonstop. And then the box has to be cheap to make."

"What if he can get the price way down? He claims he can," Stahl remarked.

"And if he can, the problem is then G.E. and Siemens and other conglomerates probably can do the same thing. I mean they have fuel cell patents. They have research teams that have looked at this. And they have a much greater leeway to actually spread that cost over a lot of products," Kanellos replied.

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