Officials and representatives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, recently inaugurated the City’s first Bloom Box, a 100kW energy server poised to become an important alternative energy source for the nation’s power grid.
The energy server uses solid oxide fuel cell technology developed by California’s Bloom Energy. Researchers from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s SimCenter: National Center for Computational Engineering evaluated the cell’s efficiency and will continue to monitor the new installation.
The project is the continuation of a long-standing partnership between the UTC SimCenter, EPB, TVA, and Bloom Energy that began with Bloom’s first field trial of its technology in 2006. That successful field trial was a key milestone on Bloom’s path to commercialization.
Located on the top floor of the EPB building’s parking garage, in downtown Chattanooga, the Bloom Box will be a showcase piece for innovation and for successful collaboration between the public and private sectors. By working closely with TVA, this project also highlights how distributed generation technologies such as Bloom’s can be an integral part of a clean smart grid for the 21st century.
“Energy independence and preserving the environment are critical national priorities. An efficient economical fuel cell with low or negligible carbon emission that can operate on a wide range of locally available fuels-such as natural gas and other biofuels-and then provide distributed electrical power without major transmission loss is one element in the solution to this critical issue,” said Dr. Harry McDonald, holder of the Chair of Excellence in Computational Engineering at the UTC SimCenter. “This type of research is exactly why the SimCenter must continue to grow and widen its interests to provide Chattanooga, the state and the nation with well-educated engineers to solve challenging important problems.”
The units will be closely monitored by the EPB, Bloom Energy, and the UTC SimCenter to optimize and simulate performance and to provide educational value on cutting edge energy technology.
“UTC and the Tennessee Valley, have been exceptional partners from the beginning, and the valuable insights gained here have helped shape our product into the commercially viable entity it is today,” said KR Sridhar. “We are thrilled to be here to celebrate the continuation of Bloom Energy’s collaboration with Tennessee’s Congressional leadership, the Tennessee Valley Authority, EPB, and the University.”
With major support from Congressman Zach Wamp, and in conjunction with the TVA, this project will provide 24/7 clean reliable power to EPB’s building.
“The Tennessee Valley has been involved with this technology for a long time, and we’re now at the point of demonstrating its viability as a compliment to the grid. The ultimate goal would be to manufacture fuel cells in Tennessee and further advance the new manufacturing boon in the Tennessee Valley Corridor,” said Congressman Wamp. “Bloom’s technology could have a tremendous impact for the world in creating new energy sources that are cleaner and more efficient than much of today’s power generation. Fuel cell technology coupled with increased nuclear energy could significantly shrink our country’s carbon footprint.”
Bloom Energy’s technology produces clean, reliable, affordable power, practically anywhere, from a wide range of renewable or traditional fuel sources, including natural gas, wind, solar, and biomass. Bloom Energy Servers are among the most efficient energy generators available, providing for significantly reduced electricity costs and dramatically lower greenhouse gas emissions. By generating power on-site where it is consumed, Bloom Energy offers increased power reliability and security.
Chattanooga continues to be on the forefront of technology. Home to the UTC SimCenter National Center for Computational Engineering, the largest fiber to the home network, and one of the most automated Smart Grids in the nation, the 100 kW Energy Server is yet another shining example of Chattanooga quickly becoming a recognized national leader in state-of-the-art thinking and innovation.
“Here at UTC, we are proud of the progress our campus and our community have made in the areas of sustainability and energy innovation. And we are especially proud that the research scientists and students from our SimCenter played an integral part in the development of this exciting new technology,” said UTC Chancellor Roger Brown. “This is exactly the caliber of research and development this region is coming to expect from our campus.”
About Chattanooga’s Energy Server Partners:
Bloom Energy is a provider of breakthrough solid oxide fuel cell technology that generates clean, highly-efficient power onsite from virtually any fuel source. Bloom Energy’s mission is to make clean, reliable energy affordable for everyone in the world. The Bloom Energy Server is currently producing power for several Fortune 500 companies. The company is headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA. For more information, visit BloomEnergy.com.
A non-profit agency of the City of Chattanooga, EPB was established in 1935 and is one of the largest publicly-owned providers of electric power in the country, serving more than 168,000 residents and businesses in a 600 square-mile area. Today, EPB is both an electric utility and a communications company, providing communications services for homes and businesses using their 100% fiber optic infrastructure. For more information, visit epb.net.
National Center for Computational Engineering (SimCenter)
Located at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, the SimCenter integrates research and education to establish next generation technologies in computational modeling, simulation, and design in support of such areas as defense, sustainable energy, environment, and health. Students in the SimCenter’s M.S. and Ph.D. programs participate in interdisciplinary team research to address a broad range of real world engineering challenges through engineering analysis and scientific and mathematical computation. For more information, visit UTC.edu/SimCenter.
The Enterprise Center
The Enterprise Center, Inc. promotes high-tech economic development in the Chattanooga community to create jobs and build wealth. Our mission is to lead the City of Chattanooga’s and Hamilton County’s technology-based economic development initiatives thereby promoting the advancement of economic transformation in the City of Chattanooga, Hamilton County, and the Tennessee Valley Corridor. For more information, visit theenterprisectr.org.
The Tennessee Valley Authority, a corporation owned by the U.S. government, provides electricity for 9 million people in parts of seven southeastern states at prices below the national average. TVA, which receives no taxpayer money and makes no profits, also provides flood control, navigation and land management for the Tennessee River system and assists utilities and state and local governments with economic development. For more information, visit TVA.gov.