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This week, Bloom Energy made ceramics sexy again. The hip, new photo opportunity is to be standing next to a Bloom Box holding a square of tape-cast zirconia. The ceramic industry hasn’t seen this level of excitement since the 1980s, when a magnet levitating over a disc of superconducting YCBO seemed to be on every magazine cover.
If you haven’t yet watched Sunday’s 60 Minutes feature, which kicked off this week’s events, block out 15 minutes and watch it now. It’s fascinating as a ceramic engineer to see the access they gave to the CBS camera crew, and what they showed on national television. It’s especially fascinating to watch the excitement that Bloom Energy’s CEO, K.R. Sridhar, radiates in this piece. He’s just like a proud new father.
Is their technology revolutionary? No. Lots of smart people have been toiling away at solid oxide fuel cells for years. Bloom Energy has a lot of smart people working there, too. They had the dedication to find solutions to the problems that have brought other programs skidding to a halt.
What is revolutionary is the excitement that Bloom Energy has brought to heavy manufacturing. They have celebrities and leading companies all telling the same story-that their technology will change the world. It is capital-intensive and dirt (or beach sand, as Sridhar refers to it) is its primary input, but that doesn’t matter. It’s a huge market that will generate revenue figures beginning with the letter t instead of a b.
Any story with energy is in the popular mindset right now, whether it be a new way to generate alternative energy or even a way for people to improve their energy efficiency. It appears that fossil fuel production has peaked, and there is the impending threat that carbon emissions are about to be regulated in some form.
This provides an opportunity you, if you can act fast: While this is still fresh in the minds of your local newspaper or TV station, call them. Remind them of their Bloom Energy coverage, and let them know that you’re doing a similar thing right here, in their backyard. Call your mayor or congressman, too. Be that proud parent and show everyone that your product is going to help make the world a better place.