5 Most Amazing Google Projects

Did you know that Google does a lot more than just help you browse the internet?
From sending satellite balloons into the atmosphere to creating an elevator into space, here are
5 of Google’s most surprising projects!!

 

5. Dandelion

Dandelion started life in Google’s secret research department that they have.
But earlier in 2017, it took the step that only the most successful of Google’s projects
do, and set up as a company in its own right.
As with the other projects, Dandelion is trying to solve one of the big issues of our time,
in this case the provision of power to our homes.
In particular, Dandelion is developing technology to use geothermal energy to both warm and
cool homes.
Currently, the system costs about $20 to $25 thousand dollars to install.
Pipes, called ground loops, are drilled deep into the ground.
From here the process is quite simple.
When the home is too warm, heat is absorbed from the home and released into the ground.
When it’s cold, the process works in reverse by lifting the heat from the ground and releasing
it in the home.
Using geothermal energy is an efficient replacement from traditional energy sources, and can be
one of the tools used to reduce reliance on fossil fuels.
It’s not feasible to install in all areas, since not everywhere can tolerate deep holes
getting drilled into the ground.
The system will first be available in the Northeastern US, where it has the potential
to make a huge difference.
39% of carbon emissions in the US are thought to come from buildings, so if this number
can be reduced, it’ll be a great start.
Maybe they should start selling that technology to China…


4. Verily

Originally known as Google Life Sciences, this company that develops biotechnology became
its own company under alphabet Inc in 2015.
The aim of Verily is to find ways to gather and interpret health data in a way that can
be used to improve people’s lives.
The two main sensor devices that they are working on are continuous glucose monitors
and smart lenses.
Traditional glucose monitors can be quite large machines and a pain for anyone with
diabetes to carry with them if they need to check their blood sugar level.
By miniaturising the technology, Verily will improve the lives of millions of sufferers
by offering them more precise measurements in a more compact design.
The smart lenses they are developing look like any other contact lens, but they offer
wireless sensing capabilities and solutions such as sensing glucose levels and even vision
correction.
It’s not just technology that Verily is working on, though.
They have also been helping to stop the spread of disease-carrying mosquitos by releasing
sterile males, designing a new wave of bioelectronics medicines as a new way to combat disease,
improving retinal imaging techniques to help diagnose eye disease, and even designing special
cutlery to help people with limited motion in their hands.


3. Project Malta

In a similar vein to how Dandelion is trying to revolutionize our use of renewable energy,
Project Malta is focusing on a different problem- namely the effective storage of power once
it has been generated.
One of the problems with achieving a reliable source of energy from solar and wind sources,
is that they don’t produce a constant output as you get with a coal or nuclear powered
generator.
Wind power, for example, is subject to fluctuating speeds, and solar power is affected by cloud
cover.
Project Malta is helping to provide a continuous supply by improving methods of energy storage,
so a reserve can be built in times of overproduction for use when not enough is being
generated.
The idea that they have had at Malta to do this is by storing it in giant tanks of molten
salt.
It’s based on a design by the Nobel prize winning physicist, Robert Laughlin, which
converts the energy into the form of heat, which is stored in the salt, and cold, which is stored in
a liquid.
The energy can be kept in this state for a few days or weeks and can be easily converted
back to electricity again when it is needed.
Systems like this will make the electrical grids of the future much more manageable and
predictable, and less prone to issues caused by sudden surges of use.


2. Project Foghorn

Project Foghorn began life at Google in 2014 as a project that was looking at developing
new fuels by using sea water.
And, it got pretty close.
With over 14% of worldwide greenhouse emissions coming from transportation, most of this comes
from the combustion of fossil fuels in cars, planes and boats.
Foghorn began to look at seawater as a potential new fuel to try to reduce our reliance on
the traditional ones.
Seawater itself contains hydrogen and water, but it is also full of carbon dioxide that
the ocean absorbs from the atmosphere.
If a process could be found to extract the carbon and hydrogen from the water, these
elements could then be combined to make hydrocarbons to generate energy!
To do this there were two questions they needed to answer.
The first was whether it was even possible, and the second was whether it could be done
at a cost that could compete with the fuels that are already used.
In terms of feasibility, Foghorn built a prototype to test the theory and it worked!
There were a few concerns, like unexpected mineral deposits that were accumulating in
the device, but nothing that they didn’t think they could overcome.
Ultimately, though, the project was cancelled because it seemed unlikely that the cost would
be appealing to customers.
The initial target was to create the fuel at about $8 dollars for the equivalent to
a gallon of gasoline, a price that would just about make it interesting in markets where
oil prices are particularly high.
When projection started showing the projected price to be about $15 dollars for the equivalent
to a gallon of gas, it soon became clear that there was too much of a difference and the
technology wasn’t viable for the time being.
Project Foghorn was shut down.
The reason why this is an important experiment, though, is that they proved that it was completely
possible.
It might not be the right time now, but in the future, that could very easily change.


1. Space Elevator

Perhaps the most exciting of projects that Google has worked on is the idea of building
a space elevator!
Spaceflight is incredibly expensive!
It costs millions and billions of dollars to send even the smallest object up to the
International Space Station, so companies like Google, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic have
devoted huge resources to find alternative systems that could bring the price down.
Where SpaceX and Virgin have focused on the idea of reusability, or low orbit flights,
Google started looking at a completely different concept but removing the need for fuel burning
vehicles entirely.
The concept involves having a platform in geostationary orbit, that is permanently connected
to a ground station.
A massive elevator platform would then be able to go up and down the structure, taking
people and equipment from ground level to space in about 24 hours.
Like Willy Wonka’s elevator!
But 24 hours worth of waiting…
The idea itself is sound, but technology isn’t quite advanced enough to make it happen.
According to their researchers, the main barrier was the material strength, as it would need to
be made from something at least a hundred times stronger than the strongest steel we
have.
Something like a carbon nanotube would be ideal, for example, but so far these have
only been made up to a meter long, far from the hundreds of miles that would be needed.
Google has been forced to give up on their endeavour for now, but with reports suggesting
the technology may be available as soon as 2025, this could be a project that’s re-visited
sooner than you’d think.


 

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