Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Tapping the trailer park...

Are tornadoes emissions free?

Louis Michaud is a madman, but like most people gone mad he's obviously brilliant. Oddly brilliant. Brilliant to the point of being crazy. How about I just call him a dreamer.

Anybody with a tooth can tell you just how powerful a tornado really is, but Michaud wants to tell you how powerful it could be. His dream is to harness the power of the vortex for energy gain, and although the idea sounds vaguely similar to my Hurricane Drink Mixer, I'll let it slide.

Michaud has spent his life's work, about four decades, studying tornadoes and hurricanes. He believes it is possible to engineer man-made vortexes (a word?) in a controlled environment in order to produce clean, emissions-free energy...enough energy to power 200,000 homes at full-scale!

"I'm talking about a 200-megawatt device, which would be 200 metres in diameter," says Michaud. That's enough electricity for 200,000 homes.

"The vortex would be one to 20 kilometres high, and have 10 turbines (at the bottom) each producing 20 megawatts."

Read the rest of the article in the Toronto Star.

The Vortex Engine Patent from Wikipedia:

The concept of a Vortex Engine, independently proposed by Norman Louat [1] and Louis Michaud [2], aims to replace large physical chimneys with a vortex of air created by a shorter, less-expensive structure.

Michaud's patent claims that the main application is that the air flow through the louvers at the base will drive low-speed air turbines (21), generating twenty percent more electric power from the heat normally wasted by conventional power plants. That is, the vortex engine's proposed main application is as a "
bottoming cycle" for large power plants that need cooling towers.

The application proposed by Louat in his patent claims is to provide a less-expensive alternative to a physical
Solar updraft tower. In this application, the heat is provided by a large area of ground heated by the sun and covered by a transparent surface that traps hot air, in the manner of a Greenhouse. A vortex is created by deflecting vanes set at an angle relative to the tangent of the outer radius of the solar collector.

A similar proposal is to eliminate the transparent cover.
[3] This scheme would drive the chimney-vortex with warm seawater or warm air from the ambient surface layer of the earth. In this application, the application strongly resembles a dust-devil with an air-turbine in the center.