Thursday, August 14, 2014

Latest Thomas Alva Edison - K.R.Sridhar a Tamilian,South Indian

In a world where most alternative-energy companies are content to offer incremental advances, Silicon Valley's Bloom Energy is swinging for the fences. The Sunnyvale, Calif., start-up says it has developed a fuel-cell system that produces energy that's cleaner and more efficient than oil, gas or coal and more reliable than wind or solar power.
Dr. K. R. Sridhar is a man of many talents: a true Indian scholar, nuclear physicist, professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering, innovator, entrepreneur and, a passionate futurist who envisions a self-reliant world.

"This technology is fundamentally going to change the world," gushes K. R. Sridhar is Currently, serving as the principal co-founder and CEO of Bloom Energy his innovation, the Bloom Box, has been widely regarded as the the “Holy Grail” of clean energy. "It's going to have a disruptive impact on the way energy is produced."

Born in Coimbatore, South India, in 1960, Sridhar completed his B Tech in mechanical engineering from the National Institute of Technology at Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India under the University of Madras in 1982.

On completion, he moved to the United States and gained a M.S. in nuclear engineering and a PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1989.

After graduating from the university, in 1990, he started his career at the the University of Arizona sponsored Space Technologies Laboratory (STL) and was soon promoted to the post of the director.

Sridhar was the director of the Space Technologies Laboratory at the University of Arizona where he was also professor of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering.

The Laboratory was asked by NASA to undertake research into how life could be made sustainable on Mars. The team built a device that could use solar power and water obtained from the planet to power a reactor cell that made oxygen to breathe and hydrogen to power vehicles.

In 1994, Dr. Sridhar joined NASA and led the team of scientists and engineers 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. However, the 2001 Surveyor Lander mission was cancelled after the failure of the Mars Polar Lander, which used an identical spacecraft. The mission was cancelled for some technical reasons.

After NASA canceled the Mars-2001 Surveyor Lander mission, Sridhar started working on reversing the process, using oxygen and hydrogen to create power.

Instead of getting disheartened, Dr. Sridhar got a unique idea – he decided to reverse the process and use oxygen and hydrogen to create power, the electricity. In 2001, Sridhar was a co-founder of Ion America, later to become Bloom Energy, with a mission to "make clean, reliable energy affordable for everyone on earth". Sridhar became the chief executive officer. In 2002, the company moved to the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.

In less than 3 years, Sridhar managed to raise $400 million through venture capital. In 2002, he shifted the company center to the NASA Ames Research Center; and in 2006, he renamed the company to Bloom Energy and called his fuel cells the ‘Bloom Box’.

On 24 February 2010, Bloom Energy launched a new energy-efficient and environmentally friendly fuel cell known as the Bloom Box. Currently, natural gas (but theoretically any other fuel) and oxygen are run through a stack of cells, producing electricity.The energy was clean and inexpensive, but development and production of this fuel cell required a large initial investment of $100 million. Sridhar was able to obtain funding for the project from investors such as John Doerr (who was an early investor in companies such as Amazon and Google as well).

Sridhar predicts that a $3000 box could be in every home within the next five to ten years. Companies such as Adobe Systems, Ebay, Google, FedEx, Wal-Mart and Yahoo have already purchased larger sized boxes.


According to Dr. Sridhar, a Bloom Box comprises of some fuel cells or skinny square-like batteries that use oxygen and fuel to generate electricity with zero emissions. The fuel cells are primarily made of sea sand that is baked and molded into ceramic squares and then painted with black and green ink on the both sides. Each fuel cell is so powerful that it can light a 40 watt bulb. The fuel cells are then stacked in a metal box sandwiched with metal alloy plates. Finally the power boxes are housed in a refrigerator-like large boxes that are called the Bloom Box. Finally, to generate electricity, the box is supplied with the oxygen is supplied from one side and fuel ( it could be anything the fossil-fuel, bio-fuel, or solar power) is fed from the other side. When they combine, they create a chemical reaction and thus electricity is generated without any pollution or noise.

Bloom recently cut its first major deal with online-auction giant eBay to install five of its fuel cells as part of eBay's plan to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions 15% over four years. The Bloom cells at eBay's headquarters will generate up to 500 kW, enough electricity to power about 250 homes.

Bloom's technology is known as solid oxide regenerative fuel cells, which can run on almost any hydrocarbon fuel, like ethanol, biodiesel, methane or natural gas. Bloom's fuel cell consumes hydrocarbons but doesn't burn them. It generates electricity through an electrochemical reaction rather than by combustion and produces half the greenhouse-gas emissions of a conventional generator.

An efficient, affordable fuel cell could be just the thing to kick-start the distributed-energy industry, letting businesses, residents and even Third World villages produce their own power on site instead of relying on relatively inefficient centralized power. "Distributed power is like democracy, and centralized power is like communism," says Sridhar. And when the price of the refrigerator-size Bloom Boxes drops enough for any village to afford one, "power to the people" will have real meaning.