Google has patented its idea for a floating data center.
Some brilliant minds at Google must have looked out at the vast Pacific Ocean not far from its headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. one time and wondered: How can we harness ocean power to benefit mankind?
GOOGLE AS AN ISLAND UNTO ITSELF
The answer, apparently, lies in a patent application approved by the U.S. Patent and Trade Office last month. The patent outlines engineering concepts for constructing a giant floating data center offshore that would be cooled and powered by ocean waves and currents.
Obtaining a patent doesn't mean Google will stake out a piece of watery real estate to build the data center any time soon. Harvesting ocean power is largely confined to pilot projects around the world. Engineering equipment that can efficiently covert energy and withstand saltwater corrosion and other weather elements are some of the major challenges facing the project.
WHO ELSE IS RIDING THE WAVE?
But when much-heralded companies such as Google come up with fanciful concepts, they attract a lot of attention. Apple, for example, created a furor of speculations earlier this year when its employees filed for a patent to put solar cells inside portable gadgets (see Charge Your iPhone In The Sun).
WHAT IS A PELAMIS?
Pelamis machines are giant, linked semi-submerged cylindrical parts that produce electricity when wave motions drive a hydraulic system that includes electrical generators. Pelamis has built a 2.25-megawatt wave energy farm off the coast of Portugal.
The search giant figures that an ideal wave system would involve deploying 40 Pelamis machines over a square kilometer, enough to produce 30 megawatts of electricity. The whole setup could be located three to seven miles from shore, in 50 meters to 70 meters (164 feet to 230 feet) of water.