We know many Indians right from Sameer Bhatia of hotmail.com whose idea worked and top companies in US were behind them to get that idea to make great money out of it. Not only a handful of icons such as Pepsi's Indra nooyi, Steel Man Lakshmi Mittal, Vikram Pandit of Citi Bank etc., many Indians have started to rule the world by their intelligence. Also it's a well known statistics that 38% of doctors in US are Indians, and as many as 36% of employees in NASA are from India. It's not over. 34% employees at Microsoft, 28% at IBM, 17% at Intel and 13% at Xerox are Indians.
So, success story of Indians in IT sector continues. But Indians seldom got breakthrough in innovative product technology. However, K.R.Sridhar CEO of Bloom Energy, USA is an exception. This 49 year old scientific turned entrepreneur is all set to revolutionize Electricity production. His product which is named as Bloom Box is built with patented solid oxide fuel cell technology. It is a power generator, producing electricity at the end of consumer.
What is a Fuel Cell:
A fuel cell is an electrochemical cell that converts a source fuel into an electric current. It generates electricity inside a cell through reactions between a fuel and an oxidant, triggered in the presence of an electrolyte.
Many combination of fuels and oxidants are possible for creation of a fuel cell. For more details on Fuel Cells check this Wikipedia page.
Commercially viable Fuel Cell Technology:
Many scientists throughout the world are involved in creating commercially viable Fuel Cells.
According to Sridhar Bloom Box is a commercially viable product that produces Electricity using Oxygen and Natural Gas. Non-conventional energy sources such as gas produced out of cow-dung, solar light etc., could also be used as fuel for production of electricity out of bloom box.
The energy was clean and inexpensive, but development and production of this fuel cell required a large initial investment ($100 million). Sridhar was able to obtain funding for the project from investors such as John Doerr who predicted Amazon and Google would be leaders in future and funded them when those companies were very small and short of funds.
After eight years of continuous hard work Sridhar could give a final touch to Bloom Box. Though it's priced at US$ 8,00,000 now in order to recover the R&D cost, Sridhar predicts that a bloom box at US$ 3000/- could be in every home within the next five to ten years. Companies such as Adobe Systems, Ebay, Google, FedEx, and Wal-Mart have already purchased larger sized boxes. Each Bloom Box could produce 100 KW electricity.
Bloom Energy claims that Ebay has purchased 5 Bloom Boxes and now produces 500 KW by which it could save up to US$ 100,000 in 9 months.
Brief on Sridhar's career:
Sridhar finished his engineering graduation at National Institute of Technology at Tiruchirappalli, India. He moved to the United States in the 1980s and got a M.S. in nuclear engineering and a PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois.
Later, Sridhar joined as a director of the Space Technologies Laboratory at the University of Arizona, which was asked by NASA to come up with ways to make life sustainable on Mars. The team then made a device to use solar power and Mars water to power a reactor cell that made oxygen to breathe and hydrogen to power vehicles. Sridhar led a project that built a Mars oxygen production cell using a yttria-stabilized zirconia solid-electrolyte ionic conductor to electrolyse carbon dioxide into oxygen and carbon monoxide. The oxygen production unit was to fly as part of the MIP ("Mars ISPP Precursor") experiment package that was to be sent to Mars on the Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander mission. This would have been the first demonstration of in-situ resource utilization ("ISRU") for propellant production on another planet.
Reversal of Failure is Success:
However, the 2001 Surveyor Lander mission was cancelled after the failure of the Mars Polar Lander, which used an identical spacecraft. When NASA canceled the project, Sridhar started working on reversing the process, using oxygen and hydrogen to create power. It's almost a success story now.
In the following videos Sridhar explains the how bloom box works:
There are various News in Global media and awards related to Bloom Box. Click here.