The Tornado Solar Tower: Get Power From Recycled Heat

Did you know electrical power can be generated by using various sources, including the sun, wind, warm air from the ground? The list goes on…

The most interesting is the tower resemblant to a solar tower, in which a controlled tornado is created. Engineer Luis Michaud, from Canada, who has proposed this system, has already built one in Utah, along with his partners. The system consists of a 50-ft high hollow tube by 100-ft diameter in which they have already generated swirling masses or air or vortices. Michaud is conducting further tests using a 13-ft high scale model.A solar skirt, of approximately the same diameter as the ~350-meter solar tower built in Spain several years ago, heats the air, which rises into the chimney, turning turbines at the base of the tower.

California’s forest fire from San Diego this year (2007) has demonstrated that a tree can be uprooted by the force of the heated air mass. Proponents have proposed to build solar towers and chimneys to heights of over 3000-feet to utilize the power of heat driven updrafts. The operation of these engines may be sustained by solar thermal energy, by geothermal heat pumped from deep in the earth, by the exhaust heat from thermal power stations or by heat rejected by large nearby commercial refrigeration and air conditioning systems. The latter forms of heat may be carried to the solar air engines through insulated water pipes.

Research suggests that hollow tubes and towers that are made from concrete could be built to a maximum height of 1500-feet. A solar tower concept from Greece proposes to use a floating chimney that is lighter than air to increase the height of the hollow tube to 5000-feet so as to maximize efficiency.

Michaud has proposed to build his vortex engine to a diameter of 1300-feet and to a height of 330-feet (400-meters x 100-meters), even though that height could be increased to over 1000-feet. The angle between the air intakes and the tangent of the hollow tube would cause incoming air to swirl into a vortex as it enters the base of the engine. This is the basis by which Michaud’s vortex engine would operate.

The heat that will drive the engine could be applied upstream of the air intakes, at the center of the hollow tube or on the inner wall of the hollow tube. Insulated water pipes may carry the heat to the appropriate location. That heat would cause the swirling air mass air to accelerate inside the tube and propel it upward to an elevation of several thousand feet. While Michaud has proposed to place conventional axial-flow wind turbines in the air intakes, the vortex engine is a versatile concept that can allow for the installation of other designs of turbines. A circular array of vertical-axis turbines could be installed at the air intakes with the generating equipment being mounted overhead and outside the circumference of the tube.

The fact that the vortex engine generates a tornado inside the hollow tube lends itself to being modified to incorporate some of the vortex concepts that were initiated by Dr. Viktor Schauberger. The hollow tube could enclose a giant bladed or bladeless vertical-axis turbine with its axis placed at the center of the tube. The largest proposal for such a turbine originated in Russia and involved placing blades on carriages that rode on a circular track. It may be possible to use adjustable blades and adapt such a concept to a very large vortex engine.

Some vortex engine proponents have claimed a peak theoretical thermal efficiency of up to 15% while operating on low-grade exhaust heat. However, the actual efficiency of a fully functioning engine may be a fraction of that value. By comparison ocean thermal energy conversion or OTEC operates at an estimated thermal efficiency of 3% and use expensive specialized chemicals as the working fluid.

All of these power generating systems can fuel themselves from various sources. For using the sun, it is proposed a transparent glass through which the sunlight can pass and heat up the already-heated air. That would be free energy, having in mind that the heat from which it’s feeding itself is already being thrown out and wasted.

Good idea.


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