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Atmospheric Vortex Engine creates tornadoes to generate electricity

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December 20, 2012

The LM-6 prototype AVE system

The LM-6 prototype AVE system

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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).

AVE 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.

A fully functional AVE power station with a 100-meter (328-foot) diameter is said to be ca...

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.

"The power in a tornado is undisputed," enthused Michaud. "My work has established the principles by which we can control and exploit that power to provide clean energy on an unprecedented scale."

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. According to the company’s figures, a functional AVE power station with a 100-meter (328-foot) diameter is capable of generating up to 200 megawatts of electrical power.

For now though, efforts are focused on producing an 8-meter (26-foot) prototype, which will create a 40-meter (141-foot) high vortex, with a diameter of 30 centimeters (11 inches). The vortex will power a single 1-meter (3.2-foot) turbine, and will be manufactured in partnership with Lambton College, in Sarnia, Ontario. This development is helped forward by a grant awarded by Breakout Labs.

AVEtec’s numbers can be scrutinized in full via the source link below.

Source: Vortex Engine via Clean Technica

About the Author
Adam Williams Adam is a tech and music writer based in North Wales. When not working, you’ll usually find Adam tinkering with old Macintosh computers, reading history books, or exploring the countryside with his dog Finley.   All articles by Adam Williams
33 Comments

I wonder if this tech could be used to enahance output from the solar tower enviromission is planning. They both use thermal energy rising.

http://www.gizmag.com/enviromission-solar-tower-arizona-clean-energy-renewable/19287/

VirtualGathis
20th December, 2012 @ 12:51 pm PST

a tornado's power doesn't come from the tornado but from the wind energy that forms it ... a big tower with a heat source and cold air vents at the bottom would generate as much energy as his vortex ... either way it won't generate a hill of beans worth of power ...

Jeffrey J Carlson
20th December, 2012 @ 12:52 pm PST

Hmm looks like I need to read the source before I post. The source mentioned the solar chimney and that the vortex replaces the need for the chimney so this would be a competeing technology.

VirtualGathis
20th December, 2012 @ 12:56 pm PST

this may be something based on Victor Shauberger's ideas,,if so its about time. Known as the water wizard ,,Shauberger mimiced nature and did many amazing things with vortexes. Read about him and hope!

lavaman
20th December, 2012 @ 02:12 pm PST

@ VirtualGathis - Enviromission's project is basically an artificial thermal generator and capitalizes on what nature is already doing all day long anyway. As a hang glider pilot I see this technology working very well. Some thermals give me a climb rate of 2,000+ fpm! However I don't see this AVE working very well. Enviromission uses the free heat from the sun.... This thing lost me as soon as they said they were going to heat all that air with other sources of energy. I'm calling BS on this one...

Justfly25
20th December, 2012 @ 02:21 pm PST

how much energy does it take to make the warm air?

by second law of thermodynamics it's gotta be more than you can extract out of the system.

There's no free lunch.

Adrien
20th December, 2012 @ 03:47 pm PST

This isn't anything new. Michaud has been pushing this concept for over a decade now. Get back to me when he actually gets measurable power out of his vortex engine.

Gadgeteer
20th December, 2012 @ 04:51 pm PST

Is it more efficient that coal or natural gas power plants? If someone thinks it's over unity then ask yourself why can't it produce the heat needed to run it.

Michael Gene
20th December, 2012 @ 06:26 pm PST

The question is how efficiently does it convert heat into mechanical energy. A self powered air condition would be so cool.

Slowburn
20th December, 2012 @ 09:31 pm PST

Would this be viable using directed solar energy to heat the air? At least the heating part would be free (during daylight hours)

Richard Dinerman
21st December, 2012 @ 03:20 am PST

Well, if they do already have all the energy to heat up the air, what advantage comes from creating a tornado with all that friction and drag it comes with, over just using the energy they got right away? Why this complicated tornado-stage in between? It will not add any more energy, so bypass it.

If the tornado just serves as a replacement for the tower usually used in solar thermal power plants, well, then the rest (tank, heaters, ...) is obviously not needed, so forget about it and just put the guides that create the tornado in the center of a 'traditional' solar thermal power plant and that's it: Invisible tower of power.

Do graduates of the Lambton College, in Sarnia, Ontario, usually have a reputation for being good engineers? I think their reputation is likely to suffer from this project ...

martinkopplow
21st December, 2012 @ 03:50 am PST

There sure is a bunch of "not invented here" syndrome apparent in many of the previous posts. As an engineer I used to see engineers regularly poo pooing ideas that other's would come up with just because it wasn't their brain that had thought of it first. An invention put forth here and summarized into a few paragraphs does not mean that the purveyors of said inventions haven't thought through what it is they are attempting to achieve. Instead of trying to impress others with your vast knowledge of what can and cannot be done, spend some time coming up with your own inventions that others can tear apart when a few sentences are posted about it on Gizmag. Whether or not this tornado device ends up working as hoped by its designers , it still seems way cool to me and I wish them success.

Buellrider
21st December, 2012 @ 08:15 am PST

This idea sounds pretty neat, but based on the inputs described, it seems to me sterling engine would work just as well.

So I guess the big question is; does it provide better efficiency than a sterling engine with the same temperature difference?

-Tom

Tommy Maq
21st December, 2012 @ 09:50 am PST

I second Buellrider. In fact, some of the negative comments make me wonder if the writer read the entire piece. The intent is to take advantage of existing temperature differentials, natural - air vs seawater - and artificial - air vs industrial coolant - to generate electricity. Artificially generated heat is only being used to prove the concept. Will the AVE be the best way to use temperature differentials to generate electricity? It's too early to say, other than it will be never known unless they try.

theotherwill
21st December, 2012 @ 09:51 am PST

thanks, Buellrider, you got it right.

these same people were the ones that were saying man would never fly and the wright brothers were nuts.

I love interesting, novel ideas and the people who pursue them, I look forward to more information about this.

I also wonder if it can make use of the "Saphonian bladeless turbine" methodology (also covered on gizmag) to increase its output further.

-L

MockingBird TheWizard
21st December, 2012 @ 09:58 am PST

Thus far we have a $300,000 input for the prototype. Let's see what kind of numbers this thing posts for output. IF the prototype works, the next question will be how to get the energy to start this unit and keep it running. Industrial waste heat, or geothermal are possibilities. Any heat source would need to provide a high temperature delta from ambient air. There will be some work necessary to balance heat exchange and airflow. Stay tuned.

Bruce H. Anderson
21st December, 2012 @ 10:25 am PST

We'll know they're on to something when they get purchased and closed down buy a large and powerful energy interest.

WhyEyeWine
21st December, 2012 @ 10:31 am PST

When they can't get it to make a profit and go broke the conspiracy theorists will add it to their list of mythical suppressed technology.

Slowburn
21st December, 2012 @ 12:20 pm PST

looks a lot like a farm grain storage bin.

problem with solar chimneys has been that they leak from top and bottom (laminar flow) and the height is costly.

the vortex might be able to get fully developed turbulent flow at the exit (no leaks then at the top). Bernoulli's assumptions for pipe flow would work then-aka a nice draft at the base (where the genny is).

I wonder if Lempur theory (steam injection exhaust-trains...) might be put to use with this 'vortex' with something like glasspoint dot com solar steam.

Kwazai
21st December, 2012 @ 01:32 pm PST

i agree with Buellrider...anyone ever hear of Fulton's Folly?

billybob1851
21st December, 2012 @ 01:43 pm PST

@Buellrider

I read engadget, and it's even worse there because of the influx of laymen on every subject doing the same thing...

I call it "shite-on-everything syndrome".

When people raise objective questions with logical (after reading the while post/link), comment sections serve the commenters; when not, it just serves the content makers.

C. Walker Jr.
21st December, 2012 @ 01:52 pm PST

The wind will avoid the turbine just as a tornado will not dig into the ground. It is easier to adjust the flow of air than to turn a turbine with significant resistance. Sorry

MAR5HALL
21st December, 2012 @ 01:58 pm PST

Many of the posters above don't seem to have read the article. If this works it would be used WITH existing sources of waste heat energy such as coal or nuclear power plants.

Most nuclear plants are about 30% efficient at generating electricity from their heat output, and coal fired plants are much the same in the 30% to 40% efficiency range. So about two-thirds of energy generated is going up the spout.

If the AVE can extract a useful percentage of energy from that waste then it's essentially free, excluding capital costs.

Wombat56
21st December, 2012 @ 02:27 pm PST

Genuine, well-intentioned experimenters should be lauded and encouraged for their efforts to invent, devise and develop new and innovative approaches to produce usable energy harbouring potential to end humanity's dependence on fossil fuel energy sources. We should not be hyper critical of honest endeavours, because there are sufficient knowledgeable people and sources out there that will through qualified factual information and perception, debunk those in it, to generate a 'quick buck'! There are opportunists in the wings to exploit the gullibility of the masses, now operating with 'slick' motor-mouth gab artists at work, vying for your money and using legitimate means and sources to provide the facade behind which to promote their nefarious operation, so beware!

Robert Arthur Gillis
21st December, 2012 @ 08:03 pm PST

Buellrider,

You misunderstand. You've instantly assumed that people who dismiss this idea dismiss all others. There are a lot of good ideas posted in Gizmag articles. There are also a lot of awful ones. Having read Michaud's patent quite a few years ago and watching him pursue this over the course of a decade with no signifcant results to show for it, it's my educated guess that this will not work.

Sorry if you find it annoying that people dare to write criticisms instead of all enthusiastic comments. Maybe you'd like Island Architect to come and write yet again how William Allison's "innovative" turbine design from almost 40 years ago can easily outperform any wind turbine in existence. The problem is that IA's wishful thinking doesn't make that concept viable and neither does blind optimism do the same for this.

Gadgeteer
21st December, 2012 @ 09:57 pm PST

Basically what the invention is trying to do is to turn a thinly-spread source of energy into a concentrated one. The source I think they are thinking of is solar thermal energy. So, what it looks like is as follows:

Cover a large area of ground with dark, heat-absorbing material. As this gets hot, you get a layer of hot air on the ground which if left alone will bubble upwards as a thermal. However, the invention doesn't give the air time to do this.

A starter system generates a column of rising air which is induced to spin as a vortex, which is more stable than a simple uprising column of air. As this hot air rises, it sucks in more air from the bottom, i.e. from the heated air over our dark heat-absorbing stuff. Air rushes inwards, through a set of turbines (energy concentrating step) and upwards in the vortex.

This is a less efficient but less costly version of a solar tower. You replace the expensive tower with a cheap vortex, replace the greenhouse with black rocks, and hope that the reduction in efficiency of the whole thing is balanced by the cheapness of the input system. If you want to boost the efficiency a bit further, spray the hot-air generator area with water (preferably sea water) and use the fact that water vapour is lighter than air to your further advantage.

This is a set-up that would work well in Australia, with the added advantage of inputting a lot of water vapour into the atmosphere above this continent. The downside is that you end up with a lot of brine to get rid of, which if dumped out to sea is going to blight wherever it gets put.

Dan Holdsworth
22nd December, 2012 @ 06:52 am PST

I am not sure, but could this system take advantage of geothermal heating? It would not nearly be as efficient as a current geothermal power plant, but it seems it could be much more easily be constructed, basically just run a high melting thermally conductive material (bar??) into the earth close to the heat source, and then use the vortex above.

The advantages would be much less maintenance as you would not have corrosive materials entering your system. (Yes, you might have periodically push down your bar as it corrodes and fuse new material at the top, but that is easy and inexpensive compared to current maintenance issues).

I do not know all the characteristics but iron has a good characteristics though it may be a bit too subject to corrosion. Other choices are graphene, aluminum, carbon nanotubes, nickle, or even isotopically enriched diamonds (if they can figure out how to grow long synthetic diamonds even very thin).

NatalieEGH
22nd December, 2012 @ 08:35 am PST

Yes, like Tommy Maq said... what are the benefits of using this instead of a Stirling engine ? actually, why aren't Stirling engines used already at the places with waste heat, or are they ?

Mario Ljubicic
22nd December, 2012 @ 12:40 pm PST

I thought this was going to be something that would be powered by the wind energy of the tornadoes that already occur, naturally.

It may be too hard to place generators where the Tornadoes would track over them, or stay long enough to generate a significant amount of power.

But Hurricanes can be tracked far more easily especially once they hit land and then multiple generators could be positioned in their path.

It might be a lot of work to do so, but it might be worth the energy that could be produced from them.

This might not be feasible, but whatever problems that would need to be overcome, might be figured out, if scientists and engineers (I am neither) would at least look into the idea.

Fusiontek
22nd December, 2012 @ 07:01 pm PST

This is my June 25, 2004 entry about the tornado engine in my inventor's notebook:

Chaos Engine and Chaodynamics

1. Not limited by entropy and thermodynamic efficiencies.

2. Chaos Engine—replacement power for

diesel generators,

nuclear power plants,

automobiles,

submarines,

airplanes,

jets,

ships,

space ships,

lawn mowers,

jet skis,

weed eaters,

golf carts,

chain saws...

motor boats,

3. Find the energy “in between” places

4. Use the power of the hurricane and tornado in the chaos engine

5. Quiet, light-weight and low-tech, easy to understand and maintain

6. Use strange attractors to control the power flow

7. Until now people have been afraid of chaos and so they did not think of it as something to benefit mankind

8. The THIRD INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION will be ushered in with the advent of the chaos engine

9. A new mathematics and physics will precede the invention of the chaos engine, a paradigm shift equal to relativity theory and quantum mechanics.

Also check out this link

http://nextbigfuture.com/2012/12/progress-on-vortex-rocket-engine.html

Vincent G. Clark
24th December, 2012 @ 08:15 am PST

There will surely be more efficient ways to convert heat into electric power, but the device stimulates the imagination:

Add colored or luminescent materials at the base to create an air column seen for miles at rock concerts and grand openings.

Wonder if ionizing the input air would be useful....

The high kinetic energy of these ions would allow wire coils around the vertical cylinder to harvest electric power just as with a

magneto-hydrodynamic generator.

But, back to reality: the seeded air columns were hard to see, and the power from the coils was not worth the trouble.

cccccttttt
25th December, 2012 @ 12:31 pm PST

I have had numerous discussion with Louis, (the inventor) at Lambton College. For any doubters, like Mr Carlson, I can assure you that it has been tested on a small scale in Louis' home town of Petrolia, ON (about 20 minutes from Lambton College in Sarnia).

He was one of 5 inventors featured in the book Mad Like Tesla adn last year received seed money to build this larger prototype. We are very excited for him. Do yourself a favour and send yourself an email - schedule it for next year at this time - to remind yourself to read up again on the Avetec engine and check on Louis' progress!

Shaun Larocque
5th February, 2013 @ 07:24 am PST

Citizens in Pakistan face dire electricity outage these days. About 40% of the population is now striving to buy a generator. 30% already has fossile fuel generator. My question is, can we have a generator based on vortex engine instead? We can afford it, and need it. Govt is corrupt, and does not do any project for the benefit of the people, therefore, people buy generators.

Moiz
22nd March, 2013 @ 07:25 am PDT
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