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Buildings adobe systems installs new bloom box fuel cells at its campus in San Jose

Published on October 3rd, 2010 | by Tina Casey

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Adobe Systems Gets Clean Energy from Gigantic “Bloom Box” Fuel Cells

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October 3rd, 2010 by
 
adobe systems installs new bloom box fuel cells at its campus in San JoseWhen you think of emission-free fuel cell technology for cars, you probably imagine a device that’s about the size of a battery – or at least one that’s small and light enough to fit in a car. Now imagine a gigantic fuel cell fully the size of a standard parking space, and you’ve got enough clean energy for a fleet of cars, or for that matter, an entire building. That’s the motivation behind Adobe Systems’ new “Bloom Box” fuel cells at its campus in San Jose, California.

Bloom Energy Fuel Cells

The new fuel cells are manufactured by Bloom Energy (they’re actually called “Bloom Energy Servers”). Instead of burning fuel to produce energy, fuel cells produce energy through an electrochemical reaction. The Bloom Energy Server is based on solid oxide fuel cell technology, which is relatively inexpensive compared to conventional hydrogen fuel cells. One problem that can beset solid oxide fuel cells is their high operating temperature, but Bloom appears to have worked out the kinks. Bloom’s product is also capable of storing energy like a battery, as well as producing it.

Adobe Systems Incorporated and Fuel Cells

Adobe Systems has installed 12 Energy Servers at its West Tower on the campus, which together will generate 1.2 megawatts of electricity. They are big, but they are light enough to be sited on an upper floor, which frees up basement space for other purposes. As an on-site source, the Bloom Energy Servers will help insulate the campus from energy supply interruptions from the grid, in addition to helping the company to cut its carbon footprint. Adobe joins a growing movement by the computer tech industry to manage the increased energy consumption that comes along with an increasingly computer-dependent world. Other examples are Yahoo’s new “chicken coop” energy efficient data center in New York, a new LEED-certified data center in Sacramento, and waste energy harvesting from computer servers in Helsinki.

Image: Flower box by forestedpath on flickr.com.

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About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • jim

    Enough about Bloom already. I need a fuel cell that will generate electric power AND heat for my house, made by a reputable company. Running off natural gas.

    • Tina Casey

      Jim: …or biogas.

  • Jon_K

    Fuel cells can be green or brown. It all depends on the fuel they use. Most fuel cells are powered by a fossil fuel, natural gas. They vent C02. That’s only a little bit greener than producing electricity by burning natural gas, greener because the fuel cells are more efficient. It’s less green (by a lot) than hydro power, solar, or wind.

    To be really green they have to consume something else. In Adobe’s case that’s methane vented from a landfill. That is green, bright green.

  • Ben

    No one ever talks dollars when talking about bloom boxes. How much does this energy cost per kilowatt hour adding in the cost of the unit and the gas?

  • Bill Walker

    Of course, the Bloom Boxes use natural gas as their fuel, so they’re still running on fossil fuels, and emit 773 lbs of CO2 per Megawatt-hour (see http://www.bloomenergy.com/products/data-sheet/). They’re hardly emissions-free.

    • Tina Casey

      Bill: Excellent point. The boxes can also run on reclaimed landfill gas, though.

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