Project Loon is an interesting idea, although it maybe a little ‘out there’. Know doubt you are aware of the story so far; the internet behemoth Google, is building balloons to remain floating for an unusually extended period of time in the stratosphere. These balloons are specifically designed by Google engineers to assist the company in a construction of a new Wi-Fi broadcasting network. The Balloons will be able to travel around the world three times, or for a period of 100 days.
A key component of the Google [x] Lab project to deliver Wi-Fi to the remotest parts of the earth is the material that the balloons are made of, according to a new video released by Google. From the video, it sounds like Google hasn’t yet quite settled on a solution.
Each of the balloons is designed to stay afloat for 100 days or three global trips. That’s much longer than most weather balloons that travel at the stratospheric heights that the Loon balloons will achieve, Pam Desrochers, Google’s balloon manufacturing manager, explained in the video. “100 days is long enough so that we get a good life out of it, but not so long that we have outmoded technology in the air,” she explained. Descrochers described the balloon material, sort of like, a rubber-band. Each balloon requires 500 square meters of this material. While originally the balloons that were tested in Project Loon’s demo in New Zealand were made out of polyethylene film; this video makes it sound like Google is still very much undecided on what kind of material is most appropriate for the journey which the balloon’s will undertake.
Project Loon’s balloons must be exceptionally resilient, because they will be subjected to both extremes of hot and cold on a daily basis. This will obviously cause the material to expand and contract. Ultraviolet radiation and inclement weather are also issues that the balloons must compete with, as they could lead to pinhole leaks and maybe more serious faults.
[Image via wikipedia]