Featured image sourced from X, https://x.company/projects/dandelion/

 

Smart glasses, self-driving cars, floating wind turbines, and internet-delivering space balloons. These may sound like the ramblings of a mad scientist to most people, but to the inventers at Google’s semi-secret research and development facility, this is just another day at work.

Dubbed ‘the moonshot factory’, X (formally Google X) is an inventor’s playground, where engineers and scientists team up to “bring creations out of the lab and into the real world”.

 

X Company graphic

Sourced from X ©

In their own words, X “start[s] with a large problem in the world that if solved could improve the lives of millions or even billions of people. Then we propose a radical solution that sounds impossible today, almost like science fiction. Lastly, we look for a technology breakthrough that exists today; this gives us the necessary hope that the solution we’re looking for is possible”[1].

If an idea or ‘project’ can survive the facility, it ‘graduates’ out of X to become an independent business, or staying within Alphabet; parent company of Google.

Other such ‘graduates’ that are the brainchild of X include Google Glass, Makani (a tethered kite that acts as a floating wind turbine) and the self-driving car. Rather unsurprisingly, X is located in Silicon Valley – the Capital of Tech – along with Googleplex and headquarters for several other tech giants, including Apple and Facebook.

Most recent to escape from the sci-fi lab was Dandelion, whose solution to carbon-emitting central heating methods was to make ground-source (or geothermal) heat pumps more affordable.

The problem with the conventional method for installing ground-source heat pumps was that the machinery used for drilling wasn’t custom-built. By redesigning the drill, the installation is cheap, it doesn’t wreak havoc to homeowners’ gardens, and it can be completed in just a few hours rather than several days.

Allegedly, the Google start-up can cut the average cost for ground-source heat pumps by 50% (from $40,000 to $20,000), along with offering a monthly payment plan. However, Dandelion has only been working within Upstate New York so far, with hopes of spreading nationwide once the necessary partnerships have been made. Aztech Geothermal have been named Dandelion’s first installer within the Capital Region and Hudson Valley, along with Hudson Solar for installing geosolar systems; a combined system of heat pump powered by a solar array.

The question we have is when will we see this new drill cross the pond? Furthermore, why has this invention gone largely under the radar? So far, any questions asked regarding the machinery specs/details have gone unanswered, yet the importance of this information as a potential breakthrough for heat pump technology cannot be understated. Now that there’s a solution to the primary drawback of the ground source heat pump (the installation cost), might this be the turning point for ground-source heat pumps in becoming commonplace?


[1] Sourced from X – The Moonshot Factory

Comments

  • How does Google ground-source heat pumps translate into availability in UK NOW? We are embarking on a self-build house project and need updates on ground source technology and costs, as soon as possible. Please advise

    ps – where is the venue – Manchester Central?

    • Hi there Robert, thanks for your message.

      Ground-source heat pump installs are readily available in the UK today. Although we haven’t seen this quick drilling technology cross the pond just yet, you can recoup most if not all of the cost of the install through the Renewable Heat Incentive. Most UK installs do involve JCBs to dig the trenches for horizontal ground loop heat pumps or large industrial drills for vertical loop systems. It’s quite tricky to comment on the price unfortunately without knowing how much heat your house needs – once we’ve calculated your home’s heating demands, we could then size the heat pump based on the demand. We would then calculate how much surface area is required for the ground loops to absorb enough heat to meet this demand. I can speak with one of our engineers to book a free on-site feasibility assessment to find this out if you like?

      The venue for Build It North-West is Event City, which is to the west of central Manchester near Trafford Park – are you thinking about attending? We have some free tickets if you need them 🙂

      I hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions!

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