There's an environmentally friendly energy source that an entrepreneur is hoping to tap -- and it's terrifying.
Hurricanes, tornadoes, water spouts, whirlpools, dust devils are all naturally occurring vortexes that Canadian engineer Louis Michaud wants to "control" and harvest the energy from by recreating them artificially.
Prototype showing the man-made vortex. (Photo: AVEtec Energy Corporation)
Michaud's company AVEtec Energy Corporation is working to create a Atmospheric Vortex Engine (AVE). The AVE, according to the website, "uses an artificial vortex to capture mechanical energy produced when heat is carried upward by convection in the atmosphere."
Watch this test of a prototype uploaded to YouTube last year:
The concept of harvesting energy from artificial tornadoes is not as outlandish as you might think. In fact, AVEtec recently was awarded a $300,000 grant from the Thiel Foundation's Breakout Labs to continue research, according to R&D Magazine.
R&D stated that the AVE power source doesn't produce carbon emissions nor does it require energy storage. It is also projected to be a low-cost form of energy.
“The power in a tornado is undisputed,” Michaud said in a statement. “My work has established the principles by which we can control and exploit that power to provide clean energy on an unprecedented scale. With the funding from Breakout Labs, we are building a prototype in partnership with Lambton College to demonstrate the feasibility and the safety of the atmospheric vortex engine.”
GeekOSystem explains more about how the AVE, 130-foot column would contain the vortex and harvest the energy:
According to the company, the creation of a vortex begins by blowing hot air at an angle into the AVE. Even the hot air that fuels the process is recycled, collected from sources such as power plants, factories, data centers, and politicians.
From there, the difference in temperature between the hot air and the above atmosphere will present the opportunity to manipulate the spinning air into a vortex, which in turn powers a series of turbines that will generate energy process while producing zero carbon emissions or harmful pollutants.
(Image: AVEtec Energy Corporation)
So far, according to a presentation, AVEtec has spent 30 years developing the idea and has tested a couple prototypes.
“Power output increases geometrically with size, so commercialization will become economically viable when we build a 40m diameter prototype in 2015," Michaud said in a statement.
If you're worried about such a vortex spinning out of control, the company points out that unlike a real tornado, this vortex can't go anywhere because it's "anchored" to the heat source.