Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Fuel Cell Magic

In this year's Consumers Electronics Expo in Las Vegas a marvelous piece of technology was revelead; Jadoo. Its a portable Fuel Cell based power generation unit ( ), which as expected is very expensive right now. The unit is about $8000 (USD) and provides 2000 W-h runtime capacity. Like any other technology, the prices will fall steeply once the production technolgy gets mainstream and the demand increases. One thing that caught my attention was the future business model of Jadoo. Here's what their website says:

In our new model:
• Your home has a built-in power interface, similar to our existing Fuel Cell Power Unit.
• Each interface holds several fuel canisters, which might look like our N-Stor canisters.
• You buy several of these canisters and click them into place to power your entire home.
• When the canisters are empty, you drop them in the mail to Jadoo.
• We send you new, full canisters, delivered right to your door.
• You’re free from high utility bills, power grid outages, polluting fossil fuels, and all the limitations associated with the way you get your power today. It’s the way you get DVDs today. Soon, it will be the way you get the power to watch those DVDs as well. If it seems a bit far-fetched, it isn’t. This exciting new model is a top priority for us, and we’ve already taken great strides in making it a reality. Once again, we’re revolutionizing the industry with what this amazing technology can achieve.

  1. The model is no doubt good but there are some that I can forsee in it:
    The unit owner will still be not fully independent; (s)he will have to depend on an external entity for fuel supply.
  2. The unit will not be fully portable. If I have to take the unit to a remote area for extended period of time, there are chances that I may run out of fuel.
  3. What if the user runs out of fuel and has no spares at home. Does the consumer wait for the mail carrier to bring new?
  4. Isn't there a big risk in the whole supply chain? If the mail carrier goes on strike, that's it; darkness all over.
  5. What happens in cases of disasters when all the transportation to a certain part of the country is cut off?
  6. There'll be precious energy wasted by the carriers to supply energy to the consumer. This is not a very sustainable process. It is like burning gasoline to supply gasoline to gas stations.

Why can't Jadoo have it's own Hydrogen fuel generator power by PV in it? I guess, this is Jadoo's model of having a continuous revenue stream that is hampering production of an innovative idea. Now that I think about it, this business model will provide such an obvious hole in the consumer expectation and product feature cycle that very soon new players will enter the market and the technology will leapfrog.