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There is an enormous amount of thermal energy stored in the ocean, and the concentration of this energy is growing as global warming increases. The potential effects of global warming are devastating, and have possibly even already been seen directly in recent hurricanes battering the US coast.
propose to use that energy by building a tall hollow tower/tube mounted on floating oil platform over the ocean, that basically creates an artificial hurricane/cyclone. As the warm air rushes up the tower, it expands, thereby pulling further air up behind it, creating a self sustaining pump. A version of this has been built on land in spain, and one is planned to be built in NSW/Australia. But why not on water over a warm ocean current, such as the one that Hurricane Katrina rode into New Orleans?
To extract energy from this, turbines would be installed at the base of the tower, and the resultant electricity can easily be transmitted along undersea cables to the population centres.
This would have the immediate benefit of reducing the thermal energy load in the ocean, thereby reducing effects of global warming (eg rising ocean levels, and energetic hurricanes).
I think to get a self sustaining system, the air must move at about 100 km/h through the tube (similar to the minimum at a hurricanes core). Through a column 6 metres wide, this would be a flow of about 800 m3/s. Can someone help me calculate how much energy that would allow?
There have been other ideas that I have seen that have proposed to extract energy from hurricanes themselves, but the problem with them, is that hurricanes don't happen very often. Whereas this would be useful all year round.
Description of the solar tower in NSW [jimbopuppy, Sep 28 2005]
A nice (but 7Mb) video of a 3D render of the tower. [wagster, Sep 28 2005]
Scotish water snake
Power generator using natural water turbulence AFAIK. [rfs4711, Dec 22 2005]
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||The problem here is that the NSW tower is surrounded by a HUGE greenhouse which heats the air up to around 70°C before it disappears up the tower. How do you propose to build that on the sea?
||From your numbers, I get a total kinetic energy of 270kw. Assuming you could convert 10% to electrical energy (seems high), this gives you 27 kw--27 hair dryers on high. Worth about $3/hour.
||The energy production numbers should work out to be the same as a land unit, eventually. It will need to be designed with different materials, to handle rough waters, and due to the immense size, construction might prove to require it be assembled in the middle of the ocean, or at least a very very large bay.
||Assuming you can find the place to build the huge thing, and the extra material to make it seaworthy are cheap enough to not outweigh the savings in avoiding land use taxes, this could work, eventually.
||Keep in mind, however, the pilot plant on which the aussie design is based was destroyed by extreme weather in 1989. We have to hope the Aussie one lasts longer.
||Ah, now that your link is working, I see the problem. You have no source of heat, no solar concentrating mirrors as does the solar tower. The expansion you're depending on will never happen, and you'll get no airflow at all.
||Where do you think the waste heat from this system goes - Mars? It's not removed from the Earth system so there's no net gain from a global warming point of view.