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Posted By Jorge Chapa On August 6, 2007 @ 4:41 am In Renewable Energy | 15 Comments

tornado power, tornadoes, wind power, wind turbines, tethered tornadoes, louis michaud, canada, avetec, vortex engine [1]

Tornadoes are a force to be reckoned with, as evidenced by leveled Midwestern towns like Greensburg, Kansas [2]. But the sheer power they wield, it turns out, can also be harnessed for good, potentially powering instead of knocking down houses. While the power-yielding tornadoes would be manmade, the concept remains- harvesting a natural phenomenon’s power as a viable energy source (think SUPER windpower). According to Louis Michaud [3] of AVEtec Energy Corp, it is possible, and promising, to engineer and control full scale tornadoes and harness their energy [4] in a relatively emission free manner.

Instead of relying on intermittent and unreliable wind to power windmills, Michaud dreams of a time when a giant tornado will power the turbines at its base. The process as to how to create a tornado, albeit a small scale one, is fairly simple and is a matter of physics. What is considerably more difficult is to create one at the scale required to power the turbines. Ideally, it would work like this: wasted heat, say from a power plant nearby or geothermal energy, is carried by a water pipe to a vortex engine which is then transmitted to air in motion. The air picks up the heat and enters the vortex causing the air to swirl inside, gathering energy and creating a vortex. According to Michaud, the vortex will keep functioning as long as heat is being funneled into it, which is where things just get a bit sticky.

A 200-meter wide tornado might just have enough power to start absorbing heat from the surrounding area all by itself (something which would be a problem if one is hoping to keep it contained, as once the tornado achieves enough energy, there would be very little to stop it from escaping, so says Nilton Renno a professor at the department of atmospheric, ocean and spaces sciences at the University of Michigan).

Still, might this be a possible solution to our growing energy needs? There are enough people that think that it’s worthwhile, including the The University of Western Ontario’s wind-tunnel laboratory, which is studying Michaud’s prototype as well as a 20 meter computer model.

+ Taming tornadoes to power cities @ the Star [4]
+ Vortex Engine [3]

Via Ecogeek [5]

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URL to article: http://inhabitat.com/could-tornadoes-power-your-house/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.inhabitat.com/2007/08/06/could-tornadoes-power-your-house/

[2] Greensburg, Kansas: http://www.inhabitat.com/2007/07/23/leonardo-di-caprio-to-build-eco-town-in-kansas/

[3] Louis Michaud: http://vortexengine.ca/index.shtml

[4] full scale tornadoes and harness their energy: http://www.thestar.com/article/238291

[5] Via Ecogeek: http://www.ecogeek.org/content/view/837/

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