The search for new forms of clean energy is obviously an ongoing one, as current forms of clean energy are still generally insufficient to meet global energy needs. As such, new potential sources of clean energy often seem a little strange.
Tornadoes, for example, may not seem like the perfect solution to the energy crisis, but they may well prove to be just that — at least according to some.
More specifically, Peter Thiel, cofounder of Paypal and an early backer of Facebook (News - Alert), thinks harnessing the power of tornadoes has a lot of potential. In fact, the Thiel Foundation's Breakout Labs program recently gave Canadian company AVEtec Energy Corporation a $300,000 grant to develop a prototype "Atmospheric Vortex Engine," to use man-made tornadoes in energy production.
The company describes this technology as an atmospheric vortex engine using a controlled vortex to capture mechanical energy produced from heat being carried upward toward the atmosphere via convection. By introducing warm or humid air tangentially into a circular arena, a tornado-like vortex is created.
The work of convection is then captured with turbines located at the ground level of the arena.
Put simply, the concept is to harness waste heat from thermal power plants to essentially create a new source of energy that would cost less than three cents per kilowatt-hour to produce.
The prototype being developed by AVEtec and its partner, Lambton College, is to be 40 meters high with a diameter of 30 centimeters. The test system will be used to drive a one-meter diameter turbine. This prototype is scheduled to be operational by 2013, with a 40-meter diameter prototype planned for completion by 2015.
Meanwhile, the search for clean energy continues in India with a recent Environment Forum called "Green Technology, Clean City" hosted by Hitachi India at the Oberoi Hotel in New Delhi. The forum discussed the suitability of green technology solutions for meeting the infrastructural challenges and urban growth requirements of India.
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Edited by Braden Becker