Bloom Box could be the magical fuel cell that saves the world (UPDATE: Maybe not)

Five to ten years from now, you could have a $3000 fuel cell power generator the size of a clock radio in your basement, turning natural gas into electrical power at twice the efficiency possible today. That's the promise of the Bloom Box, a tiny power plant that combines oxygen and natural gas, biogas, or solar energy, and creates electricity.

So far, Bloom Boxes are the size of about four refrigerators, costing $700,000 to $800,000. Early adopters are companies such as eBay and Google, already saving money using these boxes. But the founder of the secretive Bloom Energy, K.R. Sridhar, says that the cheap materials inside and the inherent efficiency of his design could change the world, bringing cheap energy to everyone in a box that will cost less than $3000.

The big questions now: Is it possible to mass produce this magic box? The company cranks out just one per day now. And, is that $3000 price point realistic? Will power companies buy this technology and bury it? Can this be used in cars? The company's official launch is this Wednesday. It feels like the world just changed.

UPDATE: Here's a credible energy writer who runs the numbers, explaining why the Bloom Box can't possibly do what its inventor says it'll do.

Here are two videos, one a short version that's commercial-free, and the second sponsored clip shows the full video segment from last night's 60 Minutes broadcast:

Via Fast Company