There’s a storm blowin’ up, a whopper. Just speakin’ the vernacular of the peasantry.

While we’re all working through a thundering enormous energy bill (and a suddenly-meaningful USD16bn changing hands outreached), actual renewable energy (stupid freaking biofuels) gets yet more cool.

Originally found via Inhabitat: The Atmospheric Vortex Engine! Add this to the list with Skysails and Flying Electric Generators.

Mechanical energy is produced when heat is carried upward by convection in the atmosphere. A process for producing a tornado-like vortex and concentrating mechanical energy where it can be captured is proposed. The existence of tornadoes proves that low intensity solar radiation can produce concentrated mechanical energy. It should be possible to control a naturally occurring process. Controlling where mechanical energy is produced in the atmosphere offers the possibility of harnessing solar energy without having to use solar collectors.

The Atmospheric Vortex Engine (AVE) is a process for capturing the energy produced when heat is carried upward by convection in the atmosphere. The process is protected by patent applications and could become a major source of electrical energy. The unit cost of electrical energy produced with an AVE could be half the cost of the next most economical alternative.


Taming tornadoes to power cities

Forget wind farms and their intermittent operation: the future of electricity generation could be tornado power on demand.

Here’s how it works: Waste heat, a byproduct of any fossil fuel or nuclear plant operation that is typically vented into the air through cooling towers, is carried by water pipe to a vortex engine facility nearby. The hot water enters a number of cooling cells stationed around the facility where fans push dry air across hot pipes.

The air picks up the heat and enters the vortex through 10 or more angled ducts, causing the air to swirl inside. The heated air begins to rise in a spinning motion, gathering energy the higher it gets and creating a vortex. As the vortex gathers momentum it begins to suck air through the cooling cells, at which point the fans that initially pushed in the air now function as turbines that generate electricity.

As long as the heat is available, the vortex will keep spinning.

Compared to nuclear, even coal, it’s a bargain. Michaud estimates that one of his vortex engines would cost less than one quarter the cost of a coal plant, and that’s excluding the cooling tower benefits and the fact that no ongoing fuel expenses are needed to keep it going.

I particularly loved one of the comments left on the post over at Inhabitat:

Happy days – if you keep it under control, you increase energy supply. If you don’t, you decrease demand…


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