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Dandelion

Reducing heating costs and carbon emissions with geothermal energy

Graduated
Dandelion heating unit in concrete room.

The challenge

In the U.S., buildings account for 39% of all carbon emissions, with the majority of these emissions coming from the combustion of fossil fuels for heating and cooling. In the Northeast of the country, heating and cooling is particularly carbon-intensive due to the high use of fuel oil and propane gas during the cold months. Use of these conventional fuels also has an unfortunate side effect for homeowners — they feel the financial hit if fuel prices rise during a long cold winter.

Dandelion seeks to make it easier and more affordable to heat and cool homes with a clean, free, abundant, and renewable resource: geothermal energy. Dandelion uses high-performance equipment and a proprietary, low-cost installation process that allows homeowners to save money and help the environment by moving away from conventional heating and cooling methods.

The majority of building emissions come from the combustion of fossil fuels for heating and cooling. Source: U.S. Green Building Council

The Dandelion geothermal system is cleaner and results in lower and steadier home energy costs simply by using the energy under a homeowner’s yard.

Design

Geothermal heating and cooling

Because the ground is cooler than the air in the summer and warmer than the air in the winter, it’s a great solution for home heating and cooling.

    Illustration of Dandelion process, circulating warm air throughout a home as necessary.
  1. cold temperatures: absorption

    Heat is absorbed from the ground and sent to a heat pump. The pump boosts the heat and circulates warm air through the home.

  2. Illustration of Dandelion process, circulating cool air throughout a home as necessary.
  3. warm temperatures: redistribution

    The heat pump cools the home by removing heat from the air and redistributing it into the ground.

Illustration of Dandelion process, circulating heat and cool air throughout a home as necessary.
  1. cold temperatures: absorption

    Heat is absorbed from the ground and sent to a heat pump. The pump boosts the heat and circulates warm air through the home.

  2. warm temperatures: redistribution

    The heat pump cools the home by removing heat from the air and redistributing it into the ground.

Development

Ground loops and efficient drilling

Dandelion co-founder Kathy Hannun points to diagram of Dandelion system.

The idea behind Dandelion came from an investigation conducted by Dandelion co-founder Kathy Hannun. Kathy wanted to see if it was possible to develop a technology that would allow homeowners to harness geothermal energy more easily and affordably than previous techniques. In the past, geothermal systems have typically required a large up-front installation fee which has discouraged consumers. The Dandelion team knew that to make a new system appealing, they’d need to find a new approach that could make geothermal heating and cooling more affordable.

Ground loops are integral for geothermal systems, but installation in homeowners’ yards has typically been messy, expensive, and time-consuming. The first step for the Dandelion team was to design a better drill that could reduce the time and mess of installing these ground loop pipes. The team tested all sorts of ideas, from modified jackhammers to freezing the ground with liquid nitrogen, to even using a high-pressure water jet to obliterate the ground. After many months, the team devised a fast, slender drill that took up less space and could dig a hole a few inches wide, producing less waste. It left a typical backyard relatively undisturbed and importantly, it could install the ground loops in hours instead of the customary three or four days.

Dandelion drill in backyard of house.

Today

Cleaner energy and lower costs

After two years of utilizing X’s prototyping techniques and labs to help develop the drilling technology, Dandelion graduated to become an independent company. Dandelion offers high-performance equipment and a proprietary, low-cost installation process that allow homeowners to save money by switching away from conventional heating fuels. The team is currently signing up customers in New York state and is excited to advance geothermal energy as a clean and abundant choice that can help the planet.

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