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Mini-Tornadoes For Generating Electricity

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the mad-scientist's-green-revolution dept.

Power 135

cylonlover writes "Tornadoes generally evoke the destructive force of nature at its most awesome. However, what if all that power could be harnessed to produce cheaper and more efficient electricity? This is just what Canadian engineer Louis Michaud proposes to achieve, with an invention dubbed the 'Atmospheric Vortex Engine' (or AVE). It works by introducing warm air into a circular station, whereupon the difference in temperature between this heated air and the atmosphere above creates a vortex – or controlled tornado, which in turn drives multiple wind turbines in order to create electricity. The vortex could be shut down by simply turning off the source of warm air. Michaud's company, AVEtec Energy Corporation, reports that the system produces no carbon emissions, nor requires energy storage to function, and that further to this, the cost of energy generated could potentially be as low as US$0.03 per kilowatt hour."

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Warm Air. (3, Interesting)

BradleyUffner (103496) | about a year ago | (#42364239)

And where does the power from heating the air come from?

Re:Warm Air. (4, Insightful)

Ironhandx (1762146) | about a year ago | (#42364263)

Geo-thermal vents spring to mind, amongst other things, such as using this technique along with the exhaust from a nuclear reactor to increase its power output.

Re:Warm Air. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42364461)

Yes, let's create controlled tornadoes in the immediate vicinity of nuclear reactors.
What could possibly go wrong?

Re:Warm Air. (1, Insightful)

PoolOfThought (1492445) | about a year ago | (#42364525)

I would mod this, but I don't know if it is funny or insightful. Probably both. Oh well, you're anon, so you get NEITHER!

Re:Warm Air. (5, Insightful)

amRadioHed (463061) | about a year ago | (#42364601)

What could possibly get wrong when an puny, artificial tornado that will dissipate as soon as it is removed from its source is created in proximity to a reactor sheltered within a dome strong enough to withstand even the strongest natural tornadoes? I'm thinking absolutely nothing.

Re:Warm Air. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42365197)

And the engineers all knew that even God himself couldn't sink the Titanic.

Re:Warm Air. (1)

neo8750 (566137) | about 2 years ago | (#42365901)

They were right it took an iceberg to sink that....

Re: Warm Air. (1)

skitchen8 (1832190) | about 2 years ago | (#42365919)

Wrong. They never ran the Titanic into an iceberg to test, and never ran complex computer simulations to test. Concrete and steel regularly go through both tests.

Re:Warm Air. (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | about a year ago | (#42364605)

Why study alternate energy sources at all, when the nukular is so falwless and "cheap". Let's not waste time on that and BUILD MORE NUKE PLANTS!

Re:Warm Air. (1)

Smallpond (221300) | about a year ago | (#42365187)

If you read the press releases from when they started building nukes they promised that electricity would be so cheap they might just get rid of meters. That hasn't quite worked out. Turns out they were right about nukes being cleaner than coal, but try to tell that to people who live near Fukushima.

Re:Warm Air. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42365801)

So wait...you think you can actually compare the cleanliness of two different energy producing systems by comparing the waste of one operating under normal conditions with one that was hit by a fairly massive natural disaster? Really?

Solar Kills. Wind Kills. Hydro Kills. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42365447)

Solar panels kill insects and even birds by fooling them into thinking they're landing on water.

Wind turbines kill birds and bats.

Hydroelectric dams kill fish and flood arable land.

What alternatives do you have in mind?

Re:Solar Kills. Wind Kills. Hydro Kills. (1)

Forty Two Tenfold (1134125) | about 2 years ago | (#42365989)

Alternative to the status quo, retard. Read my previous post again, maybe you'll notice the crucial word "study", meaning "research".

Re:Warm Air. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42364661)

Yes, let's create controlled tornadoes in the immediate vicinity of nuclear reactors.
What could possibly go wrong?

There's only one way to find out. Sir, I accept your challenge!

Re:Warm Air. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#42364723)

Yes, let's create controlled tornadoes in the immediate vicinity of nuclear reactors. What could possibly go wrong?

When the reactor explodes, you simply use the controlled tornado to carry all the stuff away!

Re:Warm Air. (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year ago | (#42365559)

Yes, let's create controlled tornadoes in the immediate vicinity of nuclear reactors. What could possibly go wrong?

this: http://m.imdb.com/title/tt0281617/ [imdb.com]

Re:Warm Air. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42364325)

Data Centers! Nothing like reclaiming energy from all those computers.

Re:Warm Air. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42364395)

I believe the idea is to use industrial waste heat.

This is less efficient than cogeneration, and almost certainly less efficient than preheating, but better than just dumping the heat to the environment since that is 0% efficient.

Re:Warm Air. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42364493)

There is an enormous temperature differential, as well as pressure differential, between sea level air and high level atmospheric air. I've often thought that fact could be used to make a very efficient and cheap source of power.
The same temperature differential exists in the oceans. Very cold deep, and warmer near the surface. Unlimited free energy if you can harness it.

Re:Warm Air. (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#42365071)

Unless you can teleport it, it will change in temperature/pressure by the time it reaches the new location. And if you can teleport it, why waste teleportation on a mad energy equalization scheme?

Re:Warm Air. (2)

yndrd1984 (730475) | about 2 years ago | (#42366189)

But we already do that in the ocean [wikipedia.org] and it does work (even if it isn't that impressive).

Re:Warm Air. (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about a year ago | (#42365305)

There is an enormous temperature differential, as well as pressure differential, between sea level air and high level atmospheric air. I've often thought that fact could be used to make a very efficient and cheap source of power. The same temperature differential exists in the oceans. Very cold deep, and warmer near the surface. Unlimited free energy if you can harness it.

Where does this "heat" come from? Why not just harness it directly from there? You know, solar...

Re:Warm Air. (1)

yndrd1984 (730475) | about 2 years ago | (#42366293)

Where does this "heat" come from? Why not just harness it directly from there? You know, solar...

Just some ideas: you wouldn't need to catch the rays in anything special (cells or mirrors) because the already existing landscape does it for you, and a simple big tube might be pretty cheap in comparison.

Re:Warm Air. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42364463)

Just like this solar tower.

http://www.treehugger.com/renewable-energy/think-big-arizona-solar-tower-2x-taller-than-the-empire-state-building-will-produce-200-megawatts.html

Re:Warm Air. (1)

EdIII (1114411) | about a year ago | (#42364533)

Thank You.

I thought this sounded familiar to an Australian idea being floated around a few years back.

Re:Warm Air. (1, Funny)

MickLinux (579158) | about a year ago | (#42364651)

The solar tower could work.

But it isn't a tornado: at best, it's a permanent dust devils.

  Tornados are inherently driven by DC electric, viz. an amp or two through a potential of several million volts. The circuit consists of rain laying down charge, the tornado picking it up and returning it to the cloud.

Re:Warm Air. (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#42364761)

Tornados are inherently driven by DC electric, viz. an amp or two through a potential of several million volts. The circuit consists of rain laying down charge, the tornado picking it up and returning it to the cloud.

...
...



WHAT???

Re:Warm Air. (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year ago | (#42365345)

He's probably read "Electric universe".

Re:Warm Air. (2)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year ago | (#42365145)

Tornados are inherently driven by DC electric, viz. an amp or two through a potential of several million volts. The circuit consists of rain laying down charge, the tornado picking it up and returning it to the cloud.

This kind of thinking is why people England had to set up Australia as a penal colony. Oh, Mick, you know you shouldn't make things up. We told yer and we told yer. Now say toodles to yer mum, and onto the freighter wit yer. Time fer a new life where yer can't hurt nobody no more.

Re:Warm Air. (1)

magarity (164372) | about a year ago | (#42364779)

Just like this solar tower.

This turns into a circular argument pretty quickly. If you use a solar tower in Arizona for the hot air where do you get the COLD air?

Re:Warm Air. (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42364829)

From the edges of the green house at the bottom.
It is shaped like an inverted cone. Their air does not need to be cold, only cooler than the air at the top which was heated to make it rise.

The bigger the delta the better, but it does not mean you can't use normal outside temperatures.

My bosses mouth... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42364559)

... and with all the Senators, CEOs, VPs, middle managers, and lawyers working together we should be able to actually shift the planet away from the sun quite easily as well.

Re:Warm Air. (1)

guruevi (827432) | about a year ago | (#42365001)

Congress?

waste heat (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42365007)

~100C temperature waste heat can be converted into electricity, with an efficiency of a few percent in an organic rankine turbine. Presumably, this will be significantly more efficient than a few percent.

However, such waste heat can be used for air conditioning with vapor absorption chillers. A DARPA-E project focuses on using custom materials to increase the efficiency of vapor absorption chillers.

Re: Congress, obviously! (2)

almechist (1366403) | about a year ago | (#42365651)

And where does the power from heating the air come from?

Congress! Where else? Studies have shown that multiple tornadoes worth of hot air can at times be generated by even a single congressperson, it's just a matter of finding the right one. Yeah, I lost the link to those studies, but hey, you know it's true.

Re:Warm Air. (1)

AndyKron (937105) | about a year ago | (#42365689)

Troy Hurtubise is working on that part.

Re:Warm Air. (1)

mikael (484) | about 2 years ago | (#42365829)

I would hope they could use solar power. Otherwise, the energy used to create hot steam would be better off just driving a steam turbine, or just being fed directly into the grid if it electricity.

Free Power (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42364259)

Insert generic comment about all the free hot air from (government/coworkers/Politicians) Here

No Carbon Emissions? (1)

yotto (590067) | about a year ago | (#42364279)

So the generator has no carbon emissions, but without heat it doesn't work.

So where do they get the heat, and how much better is it to use the heat for this instead of any of the dozen other electrical generation methods? /off to RTFA.

Re:No Carbon Emissions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42364309)

A steam turbine has 0 emissions too. Until you figure out 'hmm how do I heat the water'... Which means coal in the case of most of the world...

Re:No Carbon Emissions? (2)

yotto (590067) | about a year ago | (#42364327)

Ah.

The heat required to get the mini-tornado started would be provided by a temporary heat source, such as a heater, or steam. However, AVEtec states that once the vortex is thus established, the continuous heat could then be provided by a more sustainable source – such as waste industrial heat or warm seawater.

Seems a little hand-wavey, and I'd still like to see how "potential" this 3 cents per kilowatt hour prediction is.

But the idea of parking one over a geothermal vent or floating them on the ocean tethered to already-existing wind turbines seems less ludicrous to me now.

Re:No Carbon Emissions? (4, Insightful)

Dasher42 (514179) | about a year ago | (#42364459)

You don't need a geothermal vent. A large number of mirrors and a receiver filled with molten salts is itself already a proven technology. Concentrated solar thermal chimneys are actually part of the basis of this design, and they've been generating megawatts for decades in sunnier parts of the world.

We should have been using this technology already, but skewed money comparisons that ignore pollution and military expenditures make oil *seem* cheaper than these, which it really isn't overall.

http://www.csp-world.com/tags/khi-solar-one [csp-world.com]

Re:No Carbon Emissions? (1)

gtall (79522) | about a year ago | (#42364913)

How do military expenditures make oil seem cheaper. Last I checked, Republicans in Congress was rebuking the Navy for their investments in alternative energy sources. Turns out the Navy is big on those since it means they wouldn't have to rely on oil. So far, the Navy has been able to tell Congressional Republicans to shove it up their stove pipes.

Re:No Carbon Emissions? (3, Informative)

Dasher42 (514179) | about a year ago | (#42365169)

Because you pay for the cost of keeping oil supply under control not at the gas pump, but through taxes, yet you pay for it all the same, because other energy supplies would not oblige the military to defend the interests of oil companies.

Re:No Carbon Emissions? (1)

hrvatska (790627) | about a year ago | (#42364391)

Perhaps something like a molten salt solar concentrator. The molten salt would retain a lot of heat and would permit the facility to continue operating when the sun wasn't shining.

Re:No Carbon Emissions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42364453)

Their plan is to pump seawater through a heat exchanger. The AVE simply transfers this heat into the upper atmosphere where it can be radiated into space.

Re:No Carbon Emissions? (1)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | about a year ago | (#42364561)

waste heat from other processes. (data centers, industrial fabrication, geothermal, and so forth, the article even mentions using naturally warm sea water for a heat source.) The idea being, this process does not add * additional* carbon emissions, it simply allows us to more efficiently generate power from the emissions we already create.

Three cents (1)

Dasher42 (514179) | about a year ago | (#42364289)

Three cents for a kilowatt hour, and that's *without* externalized costs like oil spills, oil wars, blown up mountains, and polluted air and water. You could even use concentrated solar thermal heat to drive this thing.

Anyone who says renewables aren't ready isn't paying attention.

Re:Three cents (3, Insightful)

CarsonChittom (2025388) | about a year ago | (#42364511)

Whoa, there. I'll be as glad as the next guy if this really does pan out. But this is a prototype.

Re:Three cents (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a year ago | (#42364579)

Indeed, also see 'game changer' since if it pans out it is ridiculously lower than anything else available.

Re:Three cents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42366377)

I can't find the link right now, but search for Craven, "hurricane tower", and Hawaii. It uses cold seawater and warm air using the same concept.

Re:Three cents (1)

siddesu (698447) | about a year ago | (#42364619)

Of course. And you don't even need this kind of equipment, there are easier ways. I, for one, have a prototype that can harvest electricity directly from the clouds. All you need is a good kite and some wire. The electricity is plentiful and really cheap, maybe at $0.0004 per kwh, if that.

Re:Three cents (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#42366281)

How much is that per jiggawatt?

Re:Three cents (1)

siddesu (698447) | about 2 years ago | (#42366451)

Five brazillian, give or take an odd Gcal.

Interesting (3, Interesting)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | about a year ago | (#42364305)

ok, I assume that the cost of heating that air at bottom is already calculated in. This would mean that this AVE is pulling energy out of atmosphere (thin air, yeah), which means decreasing the air temperature. Because gas stores energy using kinetic energy of its molecules (temperature). This would mean that AVE will produce energy exploiting the global warming effect. Doubly cool solution. Even if I doubt global warming, I was always thinking, that the hotter it is, the more energy we have, the more power to us (skpping the floods of some coastal regions). I wasn't however sure how to exploit this energy. Well, perhaps AVE is the answer...

Re:Interesting (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42364351)

ok, I assume that the cost of heating that air at bottom is already calculated in.

No.

Re:Interesting (0)

SketchOfNight (1010207) | about a year ago | (#42364487)

ok, I assume that the cost of heating that air at bottom is already calculated in.

No.

Not helpful, AC. You may be correct but you should still cite your source, provide otherwise constructive material for your comment or GTFO.

Re:Interesting (1)

EdIII (1114411) | about a year ago | (#42364571)

Dude. It's the End Of The World Today.

Let's be excellent to each other just today :)

Re:Interesting (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year ago | (#42365201)

Let's be excellent to each other just today :)

Ted? Ted, is that you? Bill?

Re:Interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42365265)

You're right, that wasn't helpful. Sorry.

However, the fact is that it is obviously impossible for it to be factored in. You'd be looking at efficiencies near 100% based on the energy output of your heat source (for example, natural gas typically costs $0.03 per kWh). This device consists of a heat engine in series with a wind turbine. The maximum theoretical efficiency of a heat engine depends on the temperature difference but for practical temperatures (1000 K for the hot sink and 270 K for the cold sink) it is 75%. The maximum theoretical efficiency of a wind turbine is 60% (well, 59.3%). Multiply them and you get 45%, and that assumes the device is free and maintenance-free, there is no transmission loss, all maximum efficiencies are achieved, and so on.

So either they ignored one of the inefficiencies listed here (unlikely) or they are assuming a free heat source (and still making some very optimistic assumptions).

Re:Interesting (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about a year ago | (#42364469)

Even if I doubt global warming, I was always thinking, that the hotter it is, the more energy we have, the more power to us (skpping the floods of some coastal regions). I wasn't however sure how to exploit this energy. Well, perhaps AVE is the answer...

Coastal flooding is the least of our problems if global warming gets out of control.
The real kick in the balls would be changing weather patterns fucking over our agricultural industry.
Floods will displace people, but if the breadbasket dries out, everyone goes hungry, including the displaced.

I guess you could use AVE to desalinate water and irrigate the entire country, but that would be the kind of infrastructure project beyond the means of private industry and our current political environment would not be conducive to getting anything done.

Re:Interesting (1)

Smallpond (221300) | about a year ago | (#42365249)

Coastal flooding is the least of our problems if global warming gets out of control.
The real kick in the balls would be changing weather patterns fucking over our agricultural industry.

Worst US drought in decades deepens to cover 60 percent of lower 48 states [nbcnews.com]

Re:Interesting (1)

Curate (783077) | about a year ago | (#42365379)

Sucks to be in one of those 28.8 states.

Re:Interesting (1)

maratumba (1409075) | about a year ago | (#42364497)

You need a temperature difference to produce energy. If everything was of same temperature, you couldn't produce energy out of it.

Re:Interesting (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42364595)

How hot it is matters not one bit, the limit to how much energy you can extract is the temperature difference. Your doubt of global warming seems likely cause by a lack of basic scientific understanding.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnot's_theorem_(thermodynamics) [wikipedia.org]

Re:Interesting (0)

Burz (138833) | about a year ago | (#42365097)

Apparently, Polish schools are as bad as US schools at teaching thermodynamic principles (though I would hope not).

Re:Interesting (1)

Spinalcold (955025) | about a year ago | (#42364641)

This proposal utilizes entropy, like any energy source, not heat. Sure, if it provides a clean energy source, that will help global warming. I listened to an interview on the radio and what they want to do is use the waste heat from fossil fuel plants to produce these high entropy states, and thus tornadoes. It's a great idea, but in the larger context will it increase our reliance on fossil fuels? Or it can be used on nuclear plants to increase their efficiency. I don't know which way it could go.

Re:Interesting (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42364695)

Either way it would reduce reliance on fossil fuel. If you have a coal burning power plant making X megawatts and you can get another Y megawatts for "free" that means either less peaking plants need to be run or X can be reduced by some amount by burning less fuel.

Re:Interesting (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 2 years ago | (#42365761)

Either way it would reduce reliance on fossil fuel.

I'm all for reducing emissions but I find it difficult in the extreme to believe a modified exhaust pipe can extract significant amounts of electricity from the heat that leaks out of a coal plant. Coal plants are already designed to use the heat as efficiently as possible. The laws of thermodynamics say that nature will never allow you to use 100% of that heat, the laws of economics say it probably not worth the capital expenditure to suck any of the residual energy from the exhaust pipe. There's nothing new about these kind of ideas, I remember hearing about similar ideas as far back as the 70's, the fact is that if it was economical all installed coal plants would already be using it.

OTOH, they have a vortex, and we all know you get a lot more energy from air traveling in circles than you do from air traveling in a straight line, right?.

Wait... I've seen this episode... (1)

razorh (853659) | about a year ago | (#42364319)

This sounds like an episode of Sliders to me...

What's new? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42364329)

This was in Slashdot several years ago. What's the progress since then?

Energy from nothing... (3, Funny)

pitchpipe (708843) | about a year ago | (#42364343)

Energy from nothing and chicks for free. That ain't workin'.

Re:Energy from nothing... (1)

razorh (853659) | about a year ago | (#42364381)

Yeah. There's no such thing as chicks for free.

Re:Energy from nothing... (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | about a year ago | (#42365215)

"Money can't buy love, but it sure can buy you a yacht to pull up next to it" ...I think that was a Van Halen member, not sure. :)

All I wanna know is (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | about a year ago | (#42364435)

how do I make one because it looks totally cool.

Rain shadow creator? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42364505)

In areas where rainfall from convective thunderstorms is important for agriculture, I wonder if this could create a rain shadow (ie, an area with reduced rainfall downwind).

There could be some real pissed off farmers if it stops raining near the station. OTOH, it'd be nice if you could "fine tune" the convection in an area enough to allow thunderstorms but inhibit tornadoes. We're probably a long way off from that.

Re:Rain shadow creator? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about a year ago | (#42364643)

It's all self contained, it's not like its using 'real' thunderstorms out in the 'wild'. It won't effect the outside world at all realistically. And the winds generated won't be anywhere near actual tornado force as that would be an actual tornado with associated damage to the turbines.

Re:Rain shadow creator? (3, Informative)

c0lo (1497653) | about a year ago | (#42365471)

It's all self contained, it's not like its using 'real' thunderstorms out in the 'wild'. It won't effect the outside world at all realistically.

Self-contained you say... Won't affect, eh? TFA quote:

the vortex could be 50 m in diameter at its base and extend up to the tropopause

Re:Rain shadow creator? (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | about 2 years ago | (#42365851)

Hmmm, I guess my assumption was this would be inside a building...with a roof ;-)

So you're right it does go outside and up, but I'm still guessing the actual wind speeds aren't going to be anywhere an actual tornado and not likely to seriously effect the local climate. But probably worth of some study.

Don't build one near an airport... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42364613)

Wheeeeeeee!

This is an old idea ... (5, Informative)

timholman (71886) | about a year ago | (#42364633)

Google "Tornado Turbine" and look for the January 1977 issue of Popular Science. This idea has been around for a long, long time. Back then, the idea was to take advantage of solar heating of the tower to drive the vortex. I've seen similar ideas that were supposed to take advantage of natural pressure / temperature differentials along cliffs and mountains, etc. None have ever been made to work in any practical way.

When someone fails to check the prior art and starts trumpeting about his or her re-invention of the wheel, then you can just about discount the claims from the start. Why should anyone trust the opinion of an engineer who can't even be bothered to do any background research?

Re:This is an old idea ... (1)

mcloaked (2791017) | about a year ago | (#42364709)

You posted what I was about to say in much the same way - an old idea from decades ago when all manner of weird and quirky ideas was bandied about from solar panels in orbit many miles square beaming microwave energy back to a receiver on earth (except any living thing in its path would be fried!), to shipping Antarctic icebergs to the desserts for water, to the captured vortex idea driven by a huge bonfire in the middle of the circular building with angled entrance ducts as in the reference for this article. Great fun on the same day that the world didn't end after all!

Re:This is an old idea ... (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42364803)

Everything in its path would not be fried at all with those plans that use microwaves to transmit power from space. The amount of energy per square meter is held low enough to ensure that. Then a very large(in area coverd) antenna grid is used to relieve this. Are you afraid of being burned to death by your cell phone?

THE MORE YOU KNOW .::::'*

Re:This is an old idea ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42366351)

Well, perhaps now there are economical factors that'll make the project worthwile or necessary leaps in technology made to be able to control the vortex.

I assume the "inventor" is well aware of the prior art.

I want one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42364697)

Saw this in a magzine a year or two ago. Ever since I've been fantasizing about getting one for my backyard.

It generates electricty and makes baby tornados!! My neighbors will love it.

Wind (1)

sugarmotor (621907) | about a year ago | (#42364737)

I assume it's obvious that it's going to be windy around the power station. How windy, and how far away will there still be strong winds?

Whats next? Bremsstrahlung? (1)

technosaurus (1704630) | about a year ago | (#42364835)

Next we will be ionizing the air and letting it pass between some plates to generate electricity directly. (no moving parts)

Use the generated power to heat the air (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about a year ago | (#42364891)

Brilliant !

Low quality Heat Sources (1)

avandesande (143899) | about a year ago | (#42365041)

This would be a good way to tap the remaining energy from a low quality(low delta) heat source such as a power plant cooling tower.

But ... (5, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#42365411)

... think of the ecosystem as a whole.

If you tap the energy of tornadoes to generate power, it will reduce their remaining energy. Tap enough energy and they might become nearly extinct. If this happens, mobile homes, with no remaining natural predators, will multiply out of control.

Re:But ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42366453)

with no remaining natural predators

I believe you have overlooked the voracious monster trucks, the venerable faulty propane tank, the esteemed failing trailer hitch at velocity, and a malfunctioning kerosine heater too close to the drapes. And it's not like they're endangered or anything.

I already pay 3 cents per kilowatt. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42365443)

Here in seattle that is what it costs per kilowatt.

High cost (1)

Guspaz (556486) | about a year ago | (#42365609)

The company proposing this says the cost could potentially eventually be as low as $0.03 per kilowatt hour. Translation: it costs way more than that.

Meanwhile, the next province over from where the company is based in Sarnia, Ontario... HydroQuebec is charging $0.05 per kilowatt hour, today, for real-world use.

SMBC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42365825)

This remind me of this comic by SMBC: http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2781#comic

sounds like the syfy channel movie of the week (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#42365877)

sounds like the syfy channel movie of the week

Hot air! (1)

CHIT2ME (2667601) | about 2 years ago | (#42366317)

Why don't we tap all that hot air coming out of Washington? Should be good for a megawatt or two!

hack, Hash a rebop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42366327)

This idea has been around for a couple of decades. In essence it is a black funnel. Solar energy causes an upsurge in the air coloum and the usual twisting occurs as the air rises. The problem is in whether or not the tornado would detach and an independent tornado would wander about.
                        One possible solution might be to cause the spiral to rotate opposite direction of rotation which should require very little energy input. That way if the tornado does detach nature would tend to make it lose rotation. I don't know if that idea has ever been tested. Th area and height of such devices would not be trivial. Several acres would be desired under the base of the funnel and great height is an asset as well. It translates into a rather large expense. Many of these ideas would be practical if they can produce income in more than one way. For example a fish farm under the base of the funnel might work. Or even covering some of the base of the funnel with solar cells some other modes of power production could make such systems viable. Safety remains the great hurdle.

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