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Google.org, a For-Profit Charity 355

Posted by kdawson
from the for-the-greater-good dept.
Google has set up a subsidiary, Google.org, a for-profit philanthropy with initial capital of a billion dollars. Not being organized on a tax-free basis carries both advantages and drawbacks. From the article: "Unlike most charities, this one will be for-profit, allowing it to fund start-up companies, form partnerships with venture capitalists and even lobby Congress. It will also pay taxes." One of Google.org's first projects is the development of a plug-in hybrid vehicle that achieves a mileage rating equivalent to 100 MPG.
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Google.org, a For-Profit Charity

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 17, 2006 @11:16PM (#16127844)
    Here's a link to the same story that doesn't require registration

    http://news.com.com/Googles+unusual+approach+to+ph ilanthropy/2100-1014_3-6115533.html [com.com]

  • by otisg (92803) on Sunday September 17, 2006 @11:27PM (#16127892) Homepage Journal
    I hope it turns out as good as it blurb makes it sound. I believe Pierre Omidyar's Omidyar Network [omidyar.net] was founded with the same/similar goals in mind.
  • Re:equivelent MPG (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 17, 2006 @11:49PM (#16127974)
    A common system for evaluating advanced technology vehicle energy sources (hybrids, fuel cells, etc.) uses the "GREET" model developed by Argonne National Labs. This model considers the 'well-to-wheels' efficiency, which gives the most accurate picture of how a particular fuel or energy source is used. In the end, you get a measurement of miles per equivalent gallon of gasoline, or MPEGG.

    http://www.transportation.anl.gov/software/GREET/i ndex.html [anl.gov]
  • by dago (25724) on Monday September 18, 2006 @12:20AM (#16128071)
    Well, to be even more complete, one could also say that traditionnal car manufacturers already have diesel cars that go under 4 l/100km (over 58 mpg). Volkwagen already sold cars that could go down to 3 l/100km (or over 78 mpg).

    Ok, that's not in the US, and you still need particle filters, but still, I also think that limiting the options is a bad idea.

  • Re:Odd. (Score:3, Informative)

    by UbuntuDupe (970646) on Monday September 18, 2006 @12:41AM (#16128138) Journal
    For comparison, I remember a while ago hearing about No Sweat Apparel [nosweatapparel.com], another charity-like organization that tries to replace current clothing production with (supposely) that produced under non-exploitative conditions. They explain here [nosweatapparel.com] why they want to be for-profit -- access to more capital, rewards for those who risked a lot, and to promote a viable industry model.

    (Of course, they do use child labor for their advertising, so take it for what it's worth...)
  • Re:equivelent MPG (Score:2, Informative)

    by AudioFile (1003469) on Monday September 18, 2006 @01:01AM (#16128192)
    Let's not re-invent the wheel here - the GREET model (referenced previously by me, since registered) is the standard for calculating fuel economy for advanced or mixed-fuel vehicles. The problem, which MrZ touched on, is that electricity is tricky to account for and certainly depends on region (though a 'national average' metric exists). The traditional EPA methods MrZ referenced are based on standard US drivecycles that measure the amount of fuel used, and are certainly not relevant for plug-ins or EV's. CARB has been working on this issue, not sure what their current progress is.

    In the case of plug-ins, electricity from the grid is the energy *carrier* and not the source. Comparing different carriers (electricity, hydrogen, etc) and different sources (coal, renewable, etc) requires the use of a fuel cycle model, and the GREET model is the popular one right now. Straight conversions on basis of chemical energy or stored on-vehicle electrical capacity don't do the issue justice. If we want to be responsible about our oil dependence and chose fuel efficient vehicles, the 'absolute' model (GREET) should be considered. And it yields some interesting results - primarily that plug-ins are a great solution in the absence of a functioning hydrogen infrastructure.

    (To preempt responses from the hydrogen aware, hydrogen is considered a *carrier* and not source by many because, while it does occur naturally, the vast majority of commercial hydrogen currently comes from electrolysis or as byproduct from chemical reactions (refineries, industrial, etc.); we don't mine for it directly. In any case, a fuel cycle model is the best attempt to normalize these different energy pathways for plug-ins.)

    For a quick primer on PI-HEVs and the fuel economy issue, take a look at this presentation [epri.com] (slide 9, 10) by Mark Duvall at EPRI which nails the issue on the head. If conflicts between what I said and what this presentation says exist, trust the presentation.

    -Bill
  • by fo0bar (261207) on Monday September 18, 2006 @01:06AM (#16128210)
    Actually I'm trying to cancel out this goofy definition of MPG when there's electricity involved. Does a pure electric car get Infinity Miles per gallon?

    Yes, it does, considering there is no gas involved.

    I don't understand what you think is "goofy" about this. I put 10 gallons of gas into my Prius, I get 500 miles out of those 10 gallons. Hence, 50MPG. The fact that there is an electrical aspect is irrelevant.
  • by Technician (215283) on Monday September 18, 2006 @01:28AM (#16128268)
    FYI, the Prius does not use a Lithium battery.

    For long battery life, they do a lot of battery management to make the battery last the life of the car.

    For starters they do not treat the battery the same way you would treat a cell phone or laptop battery. Full charge then deep discharge cycles are not done. The battery is rarely charged to 100% and almost never discharged below 50%.

    There are Prius cars out there with over 250K miles and still going strong on the original battery. Do some online research on the rate of Prius battery failures. Most battery failures are not the HV traction pack but the 12V cabin battery.

    Cell phones and laptops are often charged fully and run down below 50% for long battery run-time. This kills batteries. Cell phone and laptop batteries life is not expected to last more than a couple years. The Prius battery on the other hand is expected to last the life of the car. The plug in mod may change the expected battery life considerably.
  • Plug in hybrid? (Score:3, Informative)

    by JPriest (547211) on Monday September 18, 2006 @05:52AM (#16128777) Homepage
    I am a little dissapointed to see Google jumping on the whole plug in hybrid thing, I didn't expect them to buy into the hype too. A "100mpg" equiv plug in hybrid is actually pretty trivial to build. The problem with it is that they are costly to build, there is an _enormous_ amount of red tape (crash test ratings etc.) involved in producing a car. Lastly, nobody wants to spend > $50,000 on a $10,000 car with an electric drive train that needs to be parked for 15 hours to charge after every 200 miles of travel.
  • Re:Back that up? (Score:3, Informative)

    by frdmfghtr (603968) on Monday September 18, 2006 @08:25AM (#16129416)
    IMO, this long life is because I always run my handsets, *without any charging at all*, until I get the "low battery" warning, then I place them on the charger for a minimum of 12-16 hours. This cycle of deep discharge / full recharge keeps them at their peak capacity for years.


    That's because your cordless phones probably used Nickel Cadmium (NiCd) batteries, which benefit from deep discharge/recharge cycles (aka 'conditioning'.)

    Now, regarding NiMH batteries...

    Every single piece of advice I have ever heard or read on rechargeable NiMH batteries says that to ensure the longest lifetime of a battery, you should *always* "run it try" then give it a full recharge. It is the incomplete "halfway" charging cycles that give the battery "false memory" and cause the chemicals to not assume their full capacity after the next charge.


    The occasional deep discharge/recharge is acceptable, but not every time. From www.greenbatteries.com:

    Do NiMH batteries have memory effect?

    Technically, NiMH batteries do not have a "memory effect", but strictly speaking neither do NiCds. However NiMH batteries can experience voltage depletion, also called voltage depression, similar to that of NiCd batteries, but the effect is normally less noticeable. To completely eliminate the possibility of NiMH batteries suffering any voltage depletion effect manufacturers recommend an OCCASIONAL, complete discharge of NiMH batteries followed by a full recharge. NiMH batteries can also be damaged by overcharge and improper storage (see the NiCd section immediately above this one). Most users of NiMH batteries don't have to be concerned with this voltage depletion effect. But if you use a device say a flashlight, radio, or digital camera for only a short time every day and then charge the batteries every night, you will need to let the NiMH (or NiCd) batteries run down occasionally.


    Note the word "OCCASIONAL."

    It appears you are comparing your usage habits of NiCd batteries with the OP's statements about NiMH batteries.
  • Re:Odd. (Score:3, Informative)

    by spun (1352) <loverevolutionary@yah o o . c om> on Monday September 18, 2006 @10:17AM (#16130265) Journal
    Quoted directly from Union Carbide's statement, [bhopal.com] "The Bhopal plant was owned and operated by Union Carbide India, Limited (UCIL), an Indian company in which Union Carbide Corporation held just over half the stock. The other stockholders included Indian financial institutions and thousands of private investors in India."

    No mention of government ownership, and a clear statement that UCC owned over half the stock. The site makes no mention of government mismanagement, instead claiming intentional sabotage. If UCC is willing to make a claim that patently ridiculous, don't you think they would have mentioned other factors mitigating their culpability, such as government mismanagement?

    Recent documents, obtained through discovery in the course of a lawsuit against Union Carbide for environmental contamination before a New York Federal District Court revealed that Carbide had exported "untested, unproven technology" to the Indian plant. That is partly why the US sister plant did not fail. Also, unlike the US plant, no disaster plans had been prepared for the Bhopal plant. Reports issued months before the incident by scientists within the Union Carbide corporation warned of the possibility of an accident almost identical to that which occurred in Bhopal . The reports were ignored outright and never made it to senior staff .

    Due to falling sales, staff had been laid off and safety checks became less and less frequent. Slip-bind plates that prevent water from pipes being cleaned leaking into the MIC tanks via faulty valves were not installed. Their installation had not been included on the cleaning checklist. At the time of the event, the MIC tank refrigeration unit was disabled to save money, and some of its coolant was being used elsewhere. A simple press of a button in the control room would have activated it to at least use the remaining coolant, but this was overlooked by staff.

    The gas scrubber was placed on standby, and therefore did not attempt to clean escaping gases with sodium hydroxide (caustic soda), which may have brought the concentration down to a safe level. The water curtain that may have reduced the concentration of the gas was only set to ~13 m and did not reach the gas; it was not designed to contain a leak of such magnitude. Though the audible external alarm was activated to warn the residents of Bhopal, it was quickly silenced to avoid causing panic among the residents. Thus, many continued to sleep, unaware of the unfolding drama, and those that had woken assumed any problem had been sorted. The flare tower used to burn off gases before they are allowed to escape into the air was inoperational pending repairs.

    The families of the people who died in Bhopal each received about $2,200.

    This is all a matter of public record, easy to research online. The BBC has a very good Bhopal resource center [bbc.co.uk] for anyone who wishes to learn more about this horrible example of corporate malfeasance. Without proper regulation, corporations behave in completely sociopathic ways.

    Do you enjoy lying through your teeth about horrible disasters in order to prop up your failed and murderous ideology? Do you enjoy playing apologist for sociopaths?

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