Via Slashdot: "Artificial Tornadoes"

Nov 21, 2004

\"This inventor is working on a method of creating artificial tornadoes to generate electricity which he calls the \"Atmospheric Vortex Engine\". He is claiming that it is possible to create a man-made tornado and use wind turbines to capture the energy from the tornado. On the website there is some video footage of some experimental tornadoes that were generated in a prototype vortex tower in Utah. There seem to be several recent media references to his work including The Economist and The Guardian. Sounds like an interesting idea for a renewable energy source, but what happens if one of these tornadoes gets away?\"

Well, let's hear it. What do you-all think? It sounds like a crapload of crap to me.
If the energy that is capture exceeds the energy that is required to produce the artificial tornado, then it makes sense... I have a feeling, however, that it takes more energy to produce the tornado than the amount of energy that can be harvested from it (in which case, you're spending energy on the whole).
Well, if the energy captured exceeds the energy put into the thing, isn't that defying some major law of physics somewhere? Say, for example, the Law of Conservation of Energy?
But, if the energy/time/space/work put into making the tornado yields less productive energy from the work the tornado does, then that would be a complete waste.
I recall encountering this idea in publication along the lines of Popular Science about fifteen years ago. If I recall, there was a momentum device (a sort of flywheel) that would run a turbine. Don't know if this is the same guy... I think there was some mention of electro/chemically charging the vortex, which sounds pretty expensive.

However, the ''what happens if one gets away" idea is just far-fetched enough to fuel a Category 7-type tv movie, don't you think?

Dave Gallaher
Huntsville, AL
Hi Dave,

I think you may have read about a superconductor. Worth a Google anyway:)

Pat, it was definitely listed as a 'tornado turbine' or generator and showed (in an artist's rendering) a vertical tank-type housing with a cutaway view of a vortex spinning inside---I think it was the cover item, but that's a long time ago.

Dave Gallaher
Huntsville, AL
Hmmm -- [thinking outside of the box] -- if you were to go to a place where strong dust devils were common and devise a way to coax a dust devil to form and remain (or continually reform) at one spot and put your wind turbine there, it would be an awfully efficient way to extract wind energy. Not saying it would work, but sure would be fun to try.