On a list of 'holy sh*t that doesn't really sound like a good idea' ideas, creating tornadoes to power cities has got to be pretty close to the top. But really, does it sound any more foolish than attempting to control the force of atomic explosions?
No, it isn't crazier than that, and we've managed to make nuclear power work (albeit with some unfortunate consequences) so why not try harnessing some other of nature's most powerful (and dangerous) forces. Like the tornado!
Louis Michaud can create tornadoes. Of course, right now he's creating very small tornadoes. But if he can make a one meter tall one that produces an excess of power, he's certain that he can create one that is "one to twenty kilometers high" and surrounded by wind turbines that produce 200 megawatts of continuous electricity. The only thing needed to keep the "weather pattern" (monstrous spinning cyclone of death) in place, is a source of heat. This could be geothermal or, more likely, excess heat from a coal or nuclear plant.
Right now the water from these sorts of plants has to be cooled in $20 million towers. Michaud expects to replace these towers with tornadoes by pumping the hot water to a far-away location, heating the ground, and then using the turbines as fans to start the tornado rolling. Quickly, a tornado would form, causing the hot air at the ground to funnel upward into the atmosphere, creating free cooling for the power plant and free power for the wind turbines.
The weather pattern would remain self-sustaining for as long as heat was supplied, and it would be unable to escape the plant unless the ground outside of the plant was the same heat or hotter than the pipes from the steam plant (which seems fairly unlikely...unless you're living in a Micheal Crichton book...in which case you will probably fall in love with Helen Hunt, and that's all that will really matter in the end.)
Michaud hopes to build a four, ten, twenty and thirty meter scale version of the plant before finally moving to commercial scale. This will require a lot of R&D funding, but as Michaud expects the plants to not only make nuclear and coal power cheaper (by obviating cooling towers) but also create extremely inexpensive and continuous wind power, he hopes that investors will be ready to take on the challenge.
As long as they don't build one in my back yard
Via The Star