Bloom Energy to quadruple size of California plant

SAN FRANCISCO Fri Apr 15, 2011 5:00pm EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Start-up Bloom Energy, which makes fuel cell boxes that can power buildings, is quadrupling the size of its Silicon Valley manufacturing operations in a project that will create 1,000 new jobs.

Bloom, which had 500 employees as of October and grew its workforce by 70 percent last year, said on Friday the facility in Sunnyvale, California, would expand to 210,000 square feet (19,500 square meters).

A spokeswoman for the privately held company said the 1,000 new jobs include construction work for the expansion as well as manufacturing positions. She did not provide further details.

Bloom boxes, which cost $700,000 to $800,000, provide 100 kilowatts of electricity -- enough to power 100 average U.S. homes -- and occupy an area the size of a parking space.

The company said in a statement on Friday that it had deployed 120 boxes across California, up 70 from what it had done as of last October.

Launched last February, the boxes convert air and a fuel such as natural gas into electricity through an electrochemical process. Customers include Google Inc, eBay Inc, Coca Cola Co, FedEx Corp and Staples Inc.

The company took eight years to develop the box, and raised more than $400 million from investors including Silicon Valley powerhouse Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Morgan Stanley, NEA, and Northgate Capital.

(Reporting by Braden Reddall; Editing by Richard Chang)

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