Professor Stephen Salter of the University of Edinburgh believes that a device made from discarded car tires could prevent the formation of superstorms such as Hurricane Sandy. He calls his invention the “Salter Sink”, and it’s essentially a wave-powered pump made of car tires lashed together to form a giant 80-100 meter ring that is filled with a buoyant material, such as foamed concrete. Ocean waves push hot water onto the top of the cylinder, and then gravity pushes it 200 feet below, where it mixes with cooler water, reducing the surface temperature of the ocean and resulting evaporation that causes potentially devastating low pressure systems to form. Salter claims that his wave-powered devices could yield heat transfer rates of up to 10 billion watts, making them a powerful force in mitigating the formation of storms.

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Stephen Salter’s “Salter Sink” has been funded by Bill Gates and Nathan Myhrvold’s company Intellectual Ventures. The devices made from recycled tires could potentially be placed in “hurricane alley” in the Atlantic order to alleviate surface temperatures and stop the storms before they start. They could also be deployed months before the beginning of the hurricane season in late spring at a cost that would hopefully be less than the damage wreaked by flooding and extreme winds. Salter estimates that it would take about 150-450 of the Sinks to do the job. Equipped with radar, the devices would float across the ocean, sending signals so that they would not collide with watercraft. More research still needs to be done as to how the devices would interact with wildlife and larger ecosystems.

Salter has already petitioned the UK’s chief scientific officer, and is waiting for the government’s response to his proposal for a program to develop and deploy the Sinks.

Via Daily Mail