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Harnessing the Jet Stream

a lofty idea
(+4, -4)
  [vote for,

Tether very large ballons from a base up into altitudes with prevailing winds. The base end of the tether consists of a spring driven flywheel. As the winds tug on the balloon the spring turns the flywheel generating electricity. I realize the tether would be extremely heavy made from conventional tethering materials, so we'd have to add very large (stadium size) kites to help the ballons lift the load and add drag to the system. Or maybe someone could perfect some sort of synthesized spidersilk production technique, but I don't think that is too far away to be unrealistic.

In any event, the tugging motion against the spring is basically what drives the mechanism making use of kinetic and potential energy.

brattleboro, Apr 09 2006

Liftport - Carbon nanotube fibers http://www.liftport.com/index.php?id=4
These guys are working on something like what you want. [NoOneYouKnow, Apr 09 2006]


       I can understand the first 180° of rotation, but what makes the flywheel spin thereafter?
Texticle, Apr 09 2006

       Why go to the extent of putting the generator on the tether, which will only generate power until the balloon reaches the end of the tether, instead of putting some kind of wind generator on the balloon itself? Just curious.   

       As to what the tether should be made of, maybe you should look into some of the carbon nanotube material that's being researched right now. I'll see if I can find a link.
NoOneYouKnow, Apr 09 2006

       >what makes the flywheel spin thereafter?<   

       The potential energy stored in the very large springs. Sort of a recoil motion.
brattleboro, Apr 09 2006

       This system doesn't haul anything back in for a return ascent (takes a lot of energy). The kites and ballons stay fixed aside from bringing them in for maintentance and being able to move 360... where are those little degrees of arc symbols when you need them... in order to catch the best winds from different directions and at different altitudes.   

       >Exploiting the temperature and flow of the Gulf Stream sounds more feasible<   

       Do the same thing. Use water anchors to exploit the drag in order to drive the lever/spring/flywheel turbine mechanism. Actually you could do it in rivers too.
brattleboro, Apr 09 2006

       >instead of putting some kind of wind generator on the balloon itself?<   

       That's a great idea. It would increase efficiency, but add to the lifting load. As long as the generators were very light that would make it even better.   

       Besides, I'm really hung up on the whole spring/lever/flywheel mechanism.
brattleboro, Apr 09 2006

       In regard to the carbon fiber nanotube tech, it's perfect. But as soon as they are able to build structures with such a material we could build solar chimneys and very tall tubes I call wind straws (start a new subject?)
brattleboro, Apr 09 2006

       100mph winds at 30,000 only gives you as much wind power as 60mph winds at the surface. Today, peak winds aloft across the US are 65kts at 39,000ft, which is like 36kts at the surface.   

       Today's a bad example because of light pressure gradient, but windmills are probably better, because the jetstream isn't so reliable (it moves north and south) and the costs are pretty high.
jbf, Apr 09 2006

       >big< "the 'tugging' motion"   

       That's where the springs come in. The tether is attached to the end of a lever distal to the fulcrum. The other end of the lever is attached to a rack and pinion ratcheting flywheel mechanism. The opposite end of the rack is attached to the end of a spring anchored to the base.   

       As the wind pushes against the kites and ballons the tether tugs on the lever and spring (potential energy) which recoils in return (60 mph sustained should work). This back and forth tugging moves the ratcheting rack and pinion gear setup in the same fashion as a clock's pendulum/gearing mechanism. In order to garantee a pulsed movement there could be spring dampers controlled by sensors on the kites/balloons. Just as bridges begin to wobble and twist from the wind shedding vortices so too would the kites/balloons.
brattleboro, Apr 09 2006

       There's a sort of "flying windmill" idea similar to this, where a wind generator is anchored to the ground, and wind makes it both stay aloft + generate power. I think the springs and levers and ratcheting action is just a terrible way to get power.
Janik, May 16 2006

       Yeah, flywheels are notoriously inefficient. Also. . . has anyone considered how fast the jet stream goes and how many balloons you would lose per year? THose winds go 100s of miles per hour. They'd get riipped to pieces.
craziness, May 16 2006

       //springs and levers and ratcheting action is just a terrible way to get power.// //flywheels are notoriously inefficient// and the whole idea is SO nineteenth-century. [-]
SledDog, May 17 2006

       And steam. Gotta have steam. Lots and lots of lovely white, warm steam.
methinksnot, May 17 2006


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