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Power Earth Technology

Massive Solar Tower Planned For Arizona 407

Posted by Soulskill
from the i-can-see-my-house-from-here dept.
inkscapee writes "It's simple, clean, low-maintenance, and cost-effective: using hot air on a large scale to generate electricity. No, this not a plan to use Congress to generate power, though that would certainly be an endless supply — EnviroMission will use air rising up a tall tower to generate 200 megawatts of electricity. The concept is simple: a giant greenhouse at the base of the tower warms the air. The warmed air rises through the tower and turns turbines, which generate electricity. The taller the tower, the faster the air moves, which increases power output. This structure will be a monster at over 2600 feet tall. It works in all weather, and if there is a feasible water source, food could be grown in the greenhouse."
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Massive Solar Tower Planned For Arizona

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  • Rain, etc. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MSesow (1256108) on Monday July 25, 2011 @03:09PM (#36874278)
    I know this is in a desert, but it will rain on rare occasions; what will they do with the water that falls on the structure? I imagine it would not be worth while to collect it and transport it somewhere, since it will be so rare. I feel like they probably have considered this, and I just want to know what decision they came to. Put it all in a big gutter, feed it into a huge sump (or a lot of little ones), or what? Also, what about dust buildup - will it get cleared by wind (like the Mars rovers' solar panels) or will someone have to go up there with a giant squeegee to clean it off every now and then? Again, I bet they have thought of it, and I am curious about what ideas they came up with. Maybe they only clean it when it rains? Maybe every time they do clean it, it rains the next day? Who knows?
  • Re:Decent idea. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by History's Coming To (1059484) on Monday July 25, 2011 @03:34PM (#36874608) Journal
    When oil is ten times the price it is today (give it, oh, a decade tops) then anything will look cheap.

    Imagine we'd only just discovered oil - we'd probably be shouting down some lunatic scheme to build a huge floating platform, tow it out into deep, windy, wavy waters and then drill several kilometers into poorly understood geology to tap a pressurised well of highly flammable oil and explosive gas.

    In engineering and financial terms, this is easy.
  • Serious Question... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by twistedsymphony (956982) on Monday July 25, 2011 @04:20PM (#36875212) Homepage
    Is there a form of viable power production that doesn't require a mechanical generator of some sort?

    I get it... turbine generators have really good efficiency and we've refined their use for over a century. But it seems to me that every worth-while method of power production uses them...
    • Wind - air turns a blade which turns a generator to create electricity
    • Hydo - water turn a turbine which turns a generator to create electricity
    • Petrol - fuel runs through a combustion engine which turns a generator to create electricity
    • Coal - coal burns and heats up water to create steam which turns a turbine which turns a generator to create electricity
    • Nuclear - a nuclear reaction heats up water to create steam which turns a turbine which turns a generator to create electricity
    • Geo-Thermal - the earth's core heats up water to create steam which turns a turbine which turns a generator to create electricity
    • Solar Tower- a greenhouse is used to heat up air which turns a turbine which turns a generator to create electricity

    Solar Cells, and Lightning Rods seem to be the only methods I can think of that produce electricity without the use a turbine/generator combo but neither are viable for wide spread use. It seems to me that we'd do well to invest in methods of converting heat directly into electricity (giant Peltiers?) without the use of a turbine/generator. I would think doing so would theoretically make a number of our existing methods that much more efficient and perhaps open the door for other methods of power production.

Science is to computer science as hydrodynamics is to plumbing.

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