Atmospheric Vortex Engine

Future AVE Power Plant - Derived from photo of Asco nuclear power plant cooling tower by Willtron - Source Wikipedia

An atmospheric vortex engine (AVE) uses a controlled vortex to capture mechanical energy produced when heat is carried upward by convection in the atmosphere. A tornado-like vortex is produced by admitting warm or humid air tangentially into a circular arena. Tangential entries cause the warm moist air to spin as it rises forming an anchored convective vortex. The work of convection is captured with turbines located at ground level around the periphery of the arena. The heat source can be solar energy, warm water or waste heat.

The vortex engine has the same thermodynamic basis as the proven solar chimney except the physical tube of the solar chimney is replaced with centrifugal force. There is no need for a solar collector - The solar collector is the earth’s surface in its unaltered state.

An AVE power station could have a diameter of 200 m and generate 200 MW of electrical power at a cost as low as $0.03/kWh.

The vortex engine alleviates global warming by reducing fuel required to meet energy needs.

The figure above compares some of the Earth's stored energy resources. Starting from the left, the single yellow square represents the energy content our remaining crude oil reserves which were formed over the past 100 million years, 7.3 x 10 21 J.

The center image represents the total energy present in the latent heat of water vapor in the bottom kilometer of the atmosphere, 13 x 1021 J, approximately double the amount of energy stored in our remaining oil reserves.

On the far right hand side, the heat content of warm tropical ocean waters, 130 x 1021J (assuming a 100 m deep layer and 3°C), approximately 20 times more than the energy stored in our remaining oil reserves!

Finally, the figure illustrates that IF we could somehow find a way to release the enormous amount of energy stored in the latent heat of water vapor and the stored heat content in tropical ocean waters and completely deplete them, they would be completely replenished by solar energy from the sun in just 10 days and 100 days, respectively!

If even a very small fraction of the total energy stored in the latent heat of water vapor or from the heat of tropical ocean waters could be captured and converted into mechanical energy, we would be able to meet a large portion of our present and future energy needs. The atmospheric vortex engine is capable of performing this energy transformation process...

“Everything should be as simple as possible"
- Albert Einstein

Breakout Labs
Breakout Labs Announcement - San Francisco, PDF (140 kB)
AVEtec Press Release relating to Breakout Labs Grant

Simple AVE technical basis presentation with audio – 30 slides, 30 minutes

Update on Vortex Model Progress

We continue to build small scale experimental models demonstrating the operating principle of the atmospheric vortex engine. With every model, we continue to gain a deeper understanding into the various factors governing successful vortex generation and control. The main challenge remaining is to expand the models up to industrial scale.

2006 - 2010
Vortex height ≈ 1 m
Indoor demonstration model
Vortex height ≈ 5 m
First outdoor free-air convective vortex model
2012 - 2015
Vortex height ≈ 10 m
Funded by Breakout Labs
LM-9 / Breakout Labs
Vortex height ≈ 15-20 m

How it works

Larger version of image - JPG (145 KB)