At X, we spend most of our time breaking things and working to discover that we’re wrong. We run hard and fast at the biggest problems so we can learn and adapt quickly. The world, whether through realities of physics or nature or public opinion, will consistently tell us what’s broken in our ideas. And this helps us to go faster and take on more moonshot ideas precisely because we’re willing to move on quickly from ideas that aren’t panning out.
Foghorn2013 - 2016
Over 14% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions are caused by cars, trucks and planes that use gasoline to get around. In 2013 we developed a radical solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: a synthetic carbon-neutral fuel, made from seawater. A breakthrough technology enabled us to produce this new, carbon-neutral fuel, but the cost of creating it made it unfeasible to scale. So in January 2016, we decided to end this exploration.
Air freight costs are high (largely due to fuel), but ships are too slow for transporting many goods, leaving many countries out of full participation in the global economy. Early in 2014, we explored a lighter-than-air ship that could help reduce freight costs significantly in countries without good transportation infrastructure. Even though we proved the technical feasibility of the project, the extremely high initial cost of prototyping and lack of high impact applications led us to stop the investigation.