PowerFilm in Ames makes flexible solar panels. They're really cool, but I was recently tipped off that they might be working with Google on Project Loon to deliver internet to the entire world. It generated some fun excitement, but I found more research to back up this claim.
If you're not familiar with PowerFilm, you should be. The Ames based company makes flexible solar panel technology that is nothing short of amazing. The technology has been buttoned to the top of Principal Charity classic golf carts to give them longer charges, and is presently being by the US Military as they stitch it directly into their tent material, giving tents the ability to generate power.
Recently however, I was tipped off that they are working on something even bigger with a company known as Google. The alleged project is Project Loon, which is a program designed to bring internet to the whole world, using balloons. But these aren't just any balloons.
Balloons designed by Project Loon rise approximately 20 km above the Earth up into the stratosphere. Each layer of wind varies in speed and direction and custom software determines where balloons need to travel, then move themself into a layer of wind blowing in the right direction. By moving balloons strategically with the wind, the balloons create one large internet network.
The balloons last 100 days until they need to come down to be relaunched again.
PowerFilm in Ames, according to a few people I spoke with has designed solar panels for Project Loon. Although I can't be sure if they are presently working on the project or how long the relationship was it's still fascinating. I did reach out to Daniel Stieler, President of Power Film and he returned the following "Due to NDAs that are in place I am not able to comment on Project Loon." I also reached out to Google and the Project Loon team and they didn't comment. Although they didn't comment research from the International Research Journal of Engineering and Technology seems to confirm the relationship between the two companies.
Whether PowerFilm was only involved initially or whether they continue to work alongside Google in this incredible project is an amazing opportunity. Hopefully, we will learn more about the details in the future. To learn more about this Ames solar company go here.