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John O | July 2017

Alphabet spinoff, Dandelion, uses geothermal energy to heat homes


in early july, dandelion, a geothermal startup that spun off from alphabet (the parent company of google), announced it raised $2 million in funding to kick-off sales and operations for its technology that uses the earth’s energy to heat and cool homes.

 


dandelion takes thermal energy from the ground to heat and cool homes.
(dandelion)

 

the announcement noted that, in the u.s. alone, 39 percent of all carbon emissions are produced by buildings, the majority of which can be attributed to heating and cooling. dandelion insists that its new technology will be half the price of other current geothermal installations and less expensive than fuel oil or propane.

 

the system works by harnessing the thermal energy below the earth’s surface and using it to heat and cool homes and produce hot water. dandelion’s system pumps heat away from homes in the summer and pumps heat from the ground into homes during the winter.

 

kathy hannun, ceo of dandelion, says, “we started this project because we realized millions of homeowners are using expensive, truck-delivered fuels because they don’t have access to better options today. we knew if installing a geothermal heat pump was a simpler and more affordable process, these homeowners would have access to a better product that’s also better for the climate.”

 

dandelion was created by alphabet’s x unit, known as the “moonshot factory”. according to an article from quartz, the company will install underground plastic pipes that are 300-500 feet long and at a depth where temperatures are a near-constant 10°c.

 

the article continued, “a pump at the surface circulates water through the u-shaped pipes, and a heat pump, similar to a refrigerator that can operate in reverse, exchanges warm or cold air in the home. heat from the ground is transferred indoors during the winter (electricity adds extra warmth), while the process is reversed in the summer to tap relatively cooler ground temperatures.”

 

rather than paying $40,000-100,000 per system, dandelion is expected to cost $20,000 because if its smaller drilling rig and shorter drilling time. the system will last as long as the house with the pump needing to be replaced every 25 years.

 

an article from tech times explained, “the company has designed a slender drill which would only drill the holes that it actually needs, which are actually just two deep holes at a few inches in diameter. compared to traditional installation methods, dandelion evidently produces less waste; is less destructive to homes; requires less space to work and may be installed in less than a day as opposed to the usual three or four-day installation.”

 

dandelion is currently operating in upstate new york. it is offering homeowners a monthly payment plan to make the switch right away and the company insist that the savings over 10 years will make the system pay for itself. 

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