CO2 + 4H2 → CH4 + 2H2O
NASA is investigating its use for harvesting water from exhaled CO2 on the ISS, and it has been proposed as a way to make fuel on mars. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabatier_reaction]
Based on the way it's presented in the video, I'm guessing he may have found a way to catalyze this reaction in reverse using methane and water as fuel, and probably also reharvesting the leftover H2 in the process. (Granted, I have no clue if any of this is possible).
This process must inevitably produce CO2, but the question is, does it produce significantly less of it than the current "generate power in one place and ship it around the country" system? If so, it must be heralded for what it is - an incremental improvement in energy efficiency; and companies will treat it as such, as it will be cheaper. But it's not an be-all, end-all solution to our problems.
A high temperature electrochemical system, such as a solid oxide fuel cell system, generates hydrogen and optionally electricity in a fuel cell mode. At least a part of the generated hydrogen is separated and stored or provided to a hydrogen using device. A solid oxide regenerative fuel cell system stores carbon dioxide in a fuel cell mode. The system generates a methane fuel in an electrolysis mode from the stored carbon dioxide and water by using a Sabatier subsystem. Alternatively, the system generates a hydrogen fuel in an electrolysis mode from water alone.
If this thing is cheap enough it could be worthwhile, but only in cold climates where you can use the generated heat.
However, I have seen people include it in the past as a way of manipulating the numbers. I doubt this is the case with this number. It should be close to 60%
The real power of this discovery is going to be the ideas and patent behind it.
Since the dawn of the industrial age we have depended on some form of combustion/heat generation to produce steam thus turning turbines and creating electricity. This technology might be the first real step in generating electricity cheaply and efficiently through more elegant processes.
This may be the first iteration of changing the way humans gather electricity.
I'm a skeptic, but this is exciting. No emissions from the power generation itself; they have large customers already (Google, eBay, Wal-Mart, Staples).
On the whole this seems to be some sort of non-combustion natural-gas-based fuel cell. Well... Could work. They tend to hand-wave a lot of details in these broadcasts, so they may just not have mentioned certain aspects.
Would I get even a little bit excited before more proof emerges? Not an iota.
I don't know what went into making those deals, but it is rather unlikely (though most certainly not impossible) that he was able to dupe all of them.
So you put CH4 and 02 into this thing, and nothing comes out? Riiiight.
Bullshit. Matter doesn't just disappear; something else has to come out.
So, calm down a bit, dude.
Bloom are carefully dancing around the questions, saying some outrageous things like "it can use solar". Had I spent hundreds of millions on this, I would want to make it look green too.
His exact quote: "The ceramic core acts as an electrode. At high temperatures, a hydrocarbon fuel, ethanol, biodiesel, methane, or natural gas on one side of the cell attracts oxygen ions from the other. As the ions are pulled through the solid core, the resulting electrochemical reaction creates electricity. Though the technology consumes hydrocarbons, Sridhar says, it doesn't involve carbon-releasing combustion, so it emits only about half the greenhouse gases of conventional energy sources."
Look at dandelany's posts for the technical details.
The key here is to read this sentence with the emphasis on combustion. The reaction still releases carbon in the form of CO2, but it does not do so through combustion, a much less efficient process.
If you actually did a little resarch you would realize the point here is that it not only reduces carbon output vs. combustion (and likely makes this output less polluting) but is designed for developing countries lacking a grid to have a better outlet to produce energy efficiently.
For the record, that's high school chemistry, and I'm not writing off the potential of the startup. If they can bring costs down, this has potential wherever you'd normally have a backup generator, or wherever co-generation is efficient.
I do call BS on their green claims, just as I'll call BS on the developing countries bit.
Sorry, but when you throw out the word "bullshit" after spending 5 minutes analyzing the work of people who seem to genuinely want to make a positive difference in the world, you deserve ridicule. I stand by my reply and will take the karma hit since I see negative folks like yourself as poison to a community of entrepreneurs like HN.
People who have run startups know that the know-it-all who learns about their company in a 5 minute overview and says with authority "bullshit" are the types of people you quickly remove from your life since they are not going to provide any valuable, honest criticism.