Secretive fuel cell startup Bloom Energy is working with Cisco Systems to integrate energy data from its devices into Cisco's platform to manage energy use in buildings, a source has told Greentech Media.
According to the source, Cisco's work with Bloom Energy is part of a broader range of efforts to integrate distributed generation sources such as rooftop solar panels and backup generator systems into Cisco's Building Mediator.
That's the device that links building automation systems using a variety of communications protocols into Cisco's IP-based EnergyWise platform. Cisco launched that platform in January with the ability to measure and control IT equipment linked to its networks. Last week it announced it had integrated building systems like air conditioners and lights (see Cisco Rolls Out Building Management 'Mediator').
Among the swirl of rumors surrounding Bloom Energy, a working relationship with Cisco stands out as a fairly rare fact. Whether Bloom's solid oxide fuel cell products are being tested in a building managed by Cisco's Building Mediator platform (it has about 80 customers now using it), or whether the two companies are just in the pre-testing research phase, wasn't made clear.
Bloom has raised more than $200 million in venture capital funding – including a stake from VC powerhouse Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers – over its seven-year life. Still, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company has remained steadfastly silent about its technology and how close it is to commercial availability.
The company has declined to comment about a report that its fuel cells are being used in a grid-connected storage system somewhere in California, as well as rumors of contracts with Coca-Cola, FedEx, the San Francisco airport and the federal government (see Bloomors: Bloom Energy Rumors). Nor has it confirmed a February report that it was seeking to raise $150 million in a sixth round of venture funding (see Green Light post).
It has also declined to comment on reports that it makes a 25-kilowatt fuel cell that runs on natural gas, ethanol or methanol, has put four of those units together for a 100-kilowatt storage system that it has sold to Google and eBay, and could be planning a manufacturing site in Tennessee (see Green Light post).
Solid oxide fuel cells use ceramic plates and high temperatures to convert hydrogen derived from such hydrocarbons into electricity. That means they don't need expensive platinum catalysts, as do the more common proton-exchange fuel cells.