In the case of the "Bloom Box" above, it converts natural gas or other hydrocarbons to electricity through the use of a catalyst. I take cautions pause at this version actually being all it's imagined to be. I read about similar technology from GE about ten years ago and can't even find an article about it now. The device was the size of a small refrigerator and could power an average house.
Other devices, like a hydrogen/oxygen energy cells, that produce electricity and water, have been experimented with and improved in various space programs since Gemini. They have their uses in spacecraft, where weight is more important than price.
I hope this comes about. Running natural gas lines to more places has it's advantages. Heating things is done more efficiently by burning the fuel at the point of need, rather than at a power plant and losing energy at every conversion step. If you can heat your home, cook your food, dry your clothes AND power your television all from the same pipe, with a product that gets burned off as waste more than it is used for work today, all the better.
Suki made a post on her tech blog today about some other technology related to the series.
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