Scientists Developing Tornado Power Plant

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Scientists Developing Tornado Power Plant

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The completed design could be one of the cheapest forms of energy around.

A group of Canadian scientists are working on a power plant that will use a controlled tornado to drive turbines, and they're calling it the Atmospheric Vortex Engine (AVE). Essentially, the AVE works by pulling hot, humid, low air into itself and creating a vortex - approximately the way a tornado works, this air makes a major temperature difference between the engine and the atmosphere above, making a vortex extending into the atmosphere. The finished plant would have a diameter of about 100 meters, and would produce 200 megawatts of electrical power. That's about the same as a traditional coal-fired fossil fuel plant. Comparably, the AVE wouldn't produce any carbon emissions and wouldn't require a fuel storage facility. It's estimated that the AVE would cost about 3 cents per kilowatt hour, which ranks it among the cheapest forms of energy.

The idea was created by an engineer named Louis Michaud from Western University, and is being funded by the Thiel Foundation. "The power of a tornado is undisputed," said Louis Michaud. "My work has established the principles by which we can control and exploit that power to provide clean energy on an unprecedented scale. With the funding from Breakout Labs, we are building a prototype in partnership with Lambton College to demonstrate the feasibility and safety of the atmospheric vortex engine."

Source: AVE and Breakout Labs

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I think you spelled it AWE in the middle there, although you'd have thought the scientists would have tried to swing the name that way just for fun.

I'm not sure if something like this is exactly safe, per se...

Two questions:

1) What happens to all the birds that will clearly get sucked into this?

2) Will this effect airplanes flying overhead at any altitude?

Canada's moved past the cutting edge. We're on the spinning edge of technology now!

Some damn cool science there, and soon to be engineering and such. I hope this works and his calculations are right, I'd love to see one of these plants active when it's cloudy.

Deathfish15:
Two questions:

1) What happens to all the birds that will clearly get sucked into this?

2) Will this effect airplanes flying overhead at any altitude?

Well I'd assume birds would react the same way they would to a regular tornado and that directly above it would be a no fly zone.

A machine that generates an artificial tornado?

I want one for when I become a James Bond villain. I mean it's not an actual weather control device or orbital death ray, but it's a start, right?

What could possibly go wrong...

Seems cool enough if they can keep everything under controller. I'd hate to see Canada engulfed by tornadoes.

This is simply Phase 1 of Canada's plan for doomsday weapons.

No one suspects the Canadians...

As an engineer and a nerd I desperately want to see the plans for this one. Honestly this is probably one of the coolest things I have heard of all week and hope to one day look to the horizon and see a vortex and know that it powers my house.

That sounds like a perpetual motion machine, to the point that its bound to fail.

How is it that the energy consumed by making a TORNADO is lower than the energy we receive from it?

This is starting to sound like a bad Made For TV SyFy movie ...

There would be no risk to birds because it would all be inside, the picture is just a silly artists picture. Moving hot and cold air isn't really anything new to technology. It is a neat idea though and I would like to see how they expect to create more energy from the results of the tornado then they are using creating it.

JellySlimerMan:
That sounds like a perpetual motion machine, to the point that its bound to fail.

How is it that the energy consumed by making a TORNADO is lower than the energy we receive from it?

Science and witchcraft that's how. I have little doubt that the generation of the vortex will be orchestrated by three witches and their cauldron that are hidden behind a veil of scientific looking equipment.

JellySlimerMan:
That sounds like a perpetual motion machine, to the point that its bound to fail.

How is it that the energy consumed by making a TORNADO is lower than the energy we receive from it?

They plan to use the excess heat energy from nuclear power plants if I remember correctly (and presumably that's why the
picture has a tornado coming out of a cooling tower).

THAT'S RIGHT FOLKS, ALL THE SAFETY OF A NUCLEAR POWER PLANT COMBINED WITH THE SAFETY OF A TORNADO, WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

Nah, I'm kidding, Nuclear power plants aren't nearly as dangerous as people make them out to be. Still, a tornado's a tornado.

Next I shall harness the raw energy of tidal waves and lightning storms and then I will construct a drill that will bore into the earths mantle releasing the molten hot power within! Hahahahaha!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Syfy presents : Thunder Twister.
This would be great for Canada, but what about places already tornadically active? Would it disrupt local weather patterns in places like the midwest, and actually make the spring/summer storm cycle even worse? Would incoming storm cells actually force the plant to shut down because they might fuel the functioning funnel system already in place? Would there be a constant storm cloud over the plant, and if so, how would crops taste if grown nearby using the plant for water? So many questions, gotta see one of these in action.

Silly plebs it's not the tornado, it's OZ they're getting the power from.

JellySlimerMan:
That sounds like a perpetual motion machine, to the point that its bound to fail.

How is it that the energy consumed by making a TORNADO is lower than the energy we receive from it?

As someone who completely unqualified to answer this, I would presume the it would create the conditions for a tornado, then the sun's heat moving the air around would sustain the tornado and thus give more energy out than put in. With some help from the Coriolis effect no doubt.

jetriot:
There would be no risk to birds because it would all be inside, the picture is just a silly artists picture. Moving hot and cold air isn't really anything new to technology. It is a neat idea though and I would like to see how they expect to create more energy from the results of the tornado then they are using creating it.

Pretty sure the article specificaly says the machine "will create a vortex that extends to the atmospher". Kinda goes against your "all indoors" theory. :P

But yeah, it's all fun and games until one of these things breaks down unleashing a tornado that wipes oout three towns.

Tornado Power! It's not just for funneling reservoir water to Cloudsdale anymore.

PunkRex:
Next I shall harness the raw energy of tidal waves and lightning storms and then I will construct a drill that will bore into the earths mantle releasing the molten hot power within! Hahahahaha!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Uhh... we already have wave energy power plants and geothermal energy has been around since before I was born (First geothermal electricity generator was operational in 1960)!

Lightining... not yet but they're working on it... Seeing as we can do stuff with it already we can't be far off using it for energy...

An even more awesome one for you...

doggie015:

PunkRex:
Next I shall harness the raw energy of tidal waves and lightning storms and then I will construct a drill that will bore into the earths mantle releasing the molten hot power within! Hahahahaha!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Uhh... we already have wave energy power plants and geothermal energy has been around since before I was born (First geothermal electricity generator was operational in 1960)!

Lightining... not yet but they're working on it... Seeing as we can do stuff with it already we can't be far off using it for energy...

Im training to be a geologist/palaeontologist so I do know about tidal/geothermal energy... I just don't think we're using them EVILLY enough!

I did not know about them Tesla Turrets though, I want those at my front door!!!

Basic thermodynamics would seems to suggest this wouldn't be as effective as it would seem. Generally the higher the temperature a heat-engine (and this is a heat engine) operates the more efficient it is because the 'flow' of heat is bigger from hot to cold. For example a steam engine is less efficient than a combustion engine and so on. The temperature differential here will be in the 10s of degrees, so I'm not sure how the energy equations work. Air is also crappy compared to water or high pressure steam for transmitting energy.

Maybe it's because of the self sustaining process i don't know but I'm not sure how they can claim these pretty miraculous numbers.

Scrumpmonkey:
Basic thermodynamics would seems to suggest this wouldn't be as effective as it would seem. Generally the higher the temperature a heat-engine (and this is a heat engine) operates the more efficient it is because the 'flow' of heat is bigger from hot to cold. For example a steam engine is less efficient than a combustion engine and so on. The temperature differential here will be in the 10s of degrees, so I'm not sure how the energy equations work. Air is also crappy compared to water or high pressure steam for transmitting energy.

Maybe it's because of the self sustaining process i don't know but I'm not sure how they can claim these pretty miraculous numbers.

The main factor is the spinning air. Once you get the air spun up inertia does the rest (Yes, air does have inertia and at over 150 km/h it has quite a lot of it!) and you only need a little bit of energy in order to sustain the spinning. Basically the same principle as a flywheel in a vacuum

Sounds like a load of hot air.
They're just taking us for a spin.
The big twist is that it won't work.
This will blow over eventually.
This news is just static.

Okay I'm done now but seriously this is pretty electric!

I look forward to hearing what the NIMBYs have to say about a countryside littered with stationary tornadoes.

Yes... Yess... YEEESSSSSS! I am so hot for this, no joke.

"The power of a tornado is undisputed,"

Boss.

JellySlimerMan:
That sounds like a perpetual motion machine, to the point that its bound to fail.

How is it that the energy consumed by making a TORNADO is lower than the energy we receive from it?

JellySlimerMan:
That sounds like a perpetual motion machine, to the point that its bound to fail.

How is it that the energy consumed by making a TORNADO is lower than the energy we receive from it?

Because it doesn't make a tornado in the sense there's some big spinney thing moving lots of air. Instead it uses big spinney things to move hot, humid air into a giant cylinder where physics takes over. The energy to power the vortex should come from the heat energy stored in atmospheric water vapor and there's an awful lot of that, something like 10^21J a day every day.

Scrumpmonkey:
Basic thermodynamics would seems to suggest this wouldn't be as effective as it would seem. Generally the higher the temperature a heat-engine (and this is a heat engine) operates the more efficient it is because the 'flow' of heat is bigger from hot to cold. For example a steam engine is less efficient than a combustion engine and so on. The temperature differential here will be in the 10s of degrees, so I'm not sure how the energy equations work. Air is also crappy compared to water or high pressure steam for transmitting energy.

Maybe it's because of the self sustaining process i don't know but I'm not sure how they can claim these pretty miraculous numbers.

That'll be under conditions conducive to operation, but tropical areas and anywhere it gets nice and humid for decent stretches of time should get a good bit of power out of them. The "Halfeclipse to to lazy to hunt down and check the math" version of how it works is above but the shorter version is pretty much "The Sun".

Well, assuming its basically a giant vortex engine anyways.

Also 200 megawatts isn't very high. It's about comparable to 1, maybe 2 hydroelectric generators, except a hydro dam will have more then a dozen of them whereas this is just the one. Not sure about the cost, but I expect that'll be operating cost not lifetime cost.

All I can think about is "How does one weaponize this technology? and if one can, can we make a fire tornado?"

Bobic:

JellySlimerMan:
That sounds like a perpetual motion machine, to the point that its bound to fail.

How is it that the energy consumed by making a TORNADO is lower than the energy we receive from it?

They plan to use the excess heat energy from nuclear power plants if I remember correctly (and presumably that's why the
picture has a tornado coming out of a cooling tower).

THAT'S RIGHT FOLKS, ALL THE SAFETY OF A NUCLEAR POWER PLANT COMBINED WITH THE SAFETY OF A TORNADO, WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

Nah, I'm kidding, Nuclear power plants aren't nearly as dangerous as people make them out to be. Still, a tornado's a tornado.

They also COULD be tremendously safe, its just most of the ones people bitch about are as old or older than me.

uchytjes:
can we make a fire tornado?

Yes.


OT: We've already got nuclear energy powered by stuff that can cause an entire area to go infertile (or dead) for a few generations if someone fucks it up, why not try it with a tornado? It's not like it'll last very long outside of the power plant and the aforementioned sterility energy isn't really that dangerous so long as it's kept out of areas prone to natural disasters and away from dipshits who don't know how to keep them running.

Steve the Pocket:
Tornado Power! It's not just for funneling reservoir water to Cloudsdale anymore.

I came into this thread hoping someone would make a reference, and you delivered. Thank you.

Anyways, I don't really see how this will produce more energy than it will cost, but I guess we'll see.

Also, just because I can :D

JellySlimerMan:
That sounds like a perpetual motion machine, to the point that its bound to fail.

How is it that the energy consumed by making a TORNADO is lower than the energy we receive from it?

Because it's not a closed system, the energy isn't being put into sustaining the tornado like one would with a big fan. But to creating a condition where a tornado can form, you can get a lot more energy out of a tornado than it takes to make one. It's a case of moving all the energy into one place so that it can be harnessed. Think of it this way. Say you have a fire on a stick, moving the stick doesn't take a lot of energy, but the energy of the fire is now in a different place. Same principle but with air, move the air so that it is in conditions that will allow for the harvesting of the energy. Tornadoes are already self sustaining to a degree so why not make them. If this explanation is bad or confuses you then I'm sorry, forgive me for not making it clearer I'm drunk

IRBaboon:

JellySlimerMan:
That sounds like a perpetual motion machine, to the point that its bound to fail.

How is it that the energy consumed by making a TORNADO is lower than the energy we receive from it?

Because it's not a closed system, the energy isn't being put into sustaining the tornado like one would with a big fan. But to creating a condition where a tornado can form, you can get a lot more energy out of a tornado than it takes to make one. It's a case of moving all the energy into one place so that it can be harnessed. Think of it this way. Say you have a fire on a stick, moving the stick doesn't take a lot of energy, but the energy of the fire is now in a different place. Same principle but with air, move the air so that it is in conditions that will allow for the harvesting of the energy. Tornadoes are already self sustaining to a degree so why not make them. If this explanation is bad or confuses you then I'm sorry, forgive me for not making it clearer I'm drunk

Your username/avatar is surprisingly and humorously fitting with your admission that you're drunk.

OT: I, for one, welcome our new cyclone overlords.

But for real, it's about time we took wind turbines (which harness the energy made by heating differences in the atmosphere) and found a way to bring it to such a small level. This is freaking awesome.

How does he plan on getting two very different airmasses to mix in such a tiny area?
How is going to CREATE such airmasses with the properties he wants right at the surface?
Airmasses kind of don't like to change quickly, that's why they flow around each other first, rather than mixing immediately.

I'd love to see the prototype though.

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