By Colin Payne
A revolutionary new clean energy technology is getting set to change the way we think about wind power. The Solar Wind Downdraft Tower, created by Maryland-based Solar Wind Energy Inc. turnsthe traditional wind turbine design on its head by putting turbines at the base of a tubular tower that generates its own wind throughout the year. How does it work? Read on.
A tower at the center of the system creates a downdraft by using a series of pumps to carry water to the top of the 2,250-foot structure. Once the water has reached the top, it’s distributed as a fine mist across the opening, according to Gizmag. The mist evaporates and is absorbed by hot, dry air – which makes the air cooler, denser and heavier than the warmer air outside the tower. The cooled air then falls through the hollow tower at speeds up to 50 mph (80 km/h) and is directed through tunnels where it turns turbines housed inside them. One downside to the system is that it requires a lot of water to operate, but it does capture and recirculate excess water from the generation process.
Solar Wind Energy claims this tower can generate electricity 24 hours per day throughout the year when it’s located in a hot, dry area – through production would be lower during the winter months. And depending on where it’s located and the weather conditions there, the towers could generate additional energy via vertical “wind vanes” that would capture prevailing winds and direct them into the tower. The company also claims that after the initial energy and material input for construction, the towers are capable of operating continuously with virtually no carbon footprint, fuel consumption or waste generation.
The amount of energy generated by a tower varies depending on its given location, but the company has also developed software that can determine the generating capacity of an individual tower in a given location based on climate data. Recent design specifications for a site near San Luis, AZ shows a peak production of 1,250 MWh on sunny days, with an average daily production of 435 MWh when lower production times are taken into account.