Fuel Cells: Space-Age Technology Lands In California

Fuel cells, which have been used to power space craft, are now helping supply the energy needs of manufacturers and retailers here on Earth, including an Odwalla facility in Dinuba.

Bloom Energy, developer of the Bloom Box, recently finished installing five natural gas fuel cells at the Tulare County plant. The biogas-fed cells will supply about 30% of the annual power needs, according to this story in The Business Journal.

Odwalla, owned by Coca Cola, is marching toward a more sustainable future. “Reducing our environmental footprint and our dependence on non-renewable resources is just as important to Odwalla as making great tasting, nourishing beverages,” Alison Lewis, Odwalla's president said in The Business Journal story. “In addition to celebrating the completion of our fuel cell installation, we’re looking forward to rolling out our innovative PlantBottle packaging and kicking off our annual Plant a Tree program later this year.”

Fuel cells can convert a variety of fuel sources into electricity. Increasingly, they are being used throughout the San Joaquin Valley and elsewhere. Bloom Energy counts Walmart, Staples, Kaiser Permanente and California Institute of Technology as customers.

Walmart has deployed two 400 kw systems at two stores in Southern California, and plans more. The world's largest retailer eventually wants to use renewable sources to fulfill all its power needs, A Walmart spokesman says in this this Bloom Energy press release.

Photo of Odwalla fuel cells by Pitchengine.com