Lasted edited by Andrew Munsey, updated on June 14, 2016 at 8:51 pm.
Deriving Power from Atmospheric Pressure Differences over Geographically-Spaced Sites
A company called Cold Energy, LLC has received a U.S. patent for a technology that they claim can tap into the energy consistently present in atmospheric pressure differences over long distances or elevation differences. The pressure difference creates a great deal of wind energy that can theorhetically be channelled through a pipe to produce electrical energy, as air naturally rushes to the lower pressure end of the pipe. We witness this effect occuring everytime a low pressure weather system passes over our area and wind rushes into the low pressure system, creating the wind that is a typical component of a storm. This is a novel, yet unproven, approach to tapping into a clean renewable energy source with tremendous energy potential.
Adopted from the Open Source Energy News -- Exclusive by Sterling D. Allan - Oct. 26, 2005
A new method of power generation proposed by Cold Energy, LLC could potentially harness the difference in atmospheric pressure between locations 100 to 200 miles apart, with reliability comparable to coal, nuclear, gas, and hydro power, but at an operating cost substantially lower, and with no pollution.
''"This is the first alternative energy technology to come along that has a reliability factor adequate to actually serve as a 'core' generating technology, and not just as a back up or supplement to the grid."
-- John R. Crocker, COO Cold Energy, LLC, ''
Pipes would convey the air which would travel at supersonic speeds and provide energy necessary to spin turbines and generate electricity.
Anyone who has seen a weather report has seen maps with high pressure systems on one part of the map, marked by a large, bold H and a low pressure systems on another part of the map, marked with a large, bold L. Between these pressure systems, there are the isobars – those wavy white lines that lie across the space between the two different pressure zones, indicating equal amounts of pressure, which create a pressure gradient (hill) that allows wind to flow naturally from high pressure to low pressure.
To imagine how Cold Energy, LLC's technology would work, just think that if you could run a pipe between the high and the low pressure areas, you could tap into a tremendous amount of energy as the air rushes from the high pressure area to the low pressure area, and spin a electric generating turbine from the flow of air between the two locations. A power plant utlizing this pressure differential is theorhetically capable of producing 1,000 MegaWatts (MW) of electricity. That's enough electricity to power a medium-sized American city with 500,000 homes.
Unique Pressure Differential Design Gains High-Grade Patent
A system for the generation of energy based upon the differences in the atmospheric pressure at geographically spaced apart sites, referred herein as the "Atmospheric Cold Megawatt" energy producing system of the invention (hereinafter "ACM") comprises at least one long conduit, in the order of many miles long, preferably of at least two portions of different internal areas capable of conducting significant amounts of air there through. In operation the air flow in the conduit will accelerate to a high velocity wind without the consumption of any materials and without the use of any mechanical moving parts. A power converter, such as a wind turbine, in the conduit converts the high wind velocity generated by even minute pressure differences into energy of any desired type such as electricity. The opposite open ends of the conduit are located at geographically spaced sites preferably selected on the basis of historical information indicating an historical useful difference in barometric pressure. A plurality of conduits each having open ends in different geographically spaced sites may be interconnected to maximize the existing pressure differences that will assure higher and more consistent levels of energy production.
That is what Cold Energy, LLC, is setting forth to do, and they have a "no prior art" patent to support them.
Rarely is a "no prior art" patent awarded. Most are "me-too" designs, which don’t really have much that is new to offer, just a tweaking of earlier work.
However, the late Anthony C. Mamo, co-founder of Cold Energy, LLC, and recipient of 124 high tech patents, was granted such a patent for his Atmospheric Cold Megawatts (ACM)™ system for generating energy from differences in atmospheric pressure.
The scientific modeling Cold Energy has done predicts that this approach of tapping atmospheric pressure differences can yield copious amounts of energy. The effect is not just from weather differences, but can be seen in elevation differences as well -- like water running down hill.
What about cost?
Crocker said that a ACM plant could be built for about as much as it costs to build a coal plant of the same output capacity, but that the maintenance and operational costs would be far less -- and the fuel cost would be zero, including all associated costs pertaining to fuel: transport, storage, and other overhead -- all zero. And, there would be no pollution from an ACM plant. Whereas coal plant-generated electricity usually runs at around 4.5 to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour, the ACM plant would run at less than a penny per kilowatt-hour.
With two to three decades of data from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) at their disposal, the company has ran analyses over a number of different locations, and with the help of interns hopes to have modeling for two to three locations for most countries of the world soon. "In reviewing that data, we have been pleasantly surprised at how many areas have a consistently adequate atmospheric pressure gradient between two or three places," said Crocker.
Generating a Mighty Wind
For example, studying five years of atmospheric readings from Flagstaff and Tucson, Arizona, with an elevation difference of 3,700 feet, separated by 260 miles, they found the pressure difference to be in the range of 0.5 to 0.7 psi (pounds per square inch) on a daily basis, never going below 0.5 psi.
"That is sufficient to generate a wind of 2,500 mph (miles per hour), which is 3.5 times the speed of sound," Crocker said.
"Having just been in a hurricane with winds of 100 mph, I can tell you that I can hardly fathom the power of wind traveling at such high velocity," Crocker said.
The pipes would be about 2.5 meters in diameter, and the air flow would be enough to generate around 1,000 to 1,400 megawatts of electricity -- enough to power at least 250,000 homes consuming 5 kilowatts on average, which is more than enough to supply the combined populations of 53,000 and 487,000, respectively, in the two Arizona towns mentioned.
In flat areas, such as Kansas, where there are no substantial elevation changes even over hundreds of miles, the high-low pressure differential from weather patterns can harness a similar effect in a conduit of around 250 miles in length. And by having two or three such conduits fan out in different directions, the power company can increase the chance that, every day, at least one of those conduits will have enough of a pressure difference between its two ends to produce the energy requirement that the plant is designed to produce.
The conduits are designed to be unidirectional in flow, tapering gradually to a smaller diameter to increase the air flow speed. Hence, in a flatland scenario such as Kansas, there would need to be two pipelines to allow for flow in either direction.
Where change of elevation is built into the landscape, the consistent difference in atmospheric pressure from plain to mountaintop would trump high/low differences of any transient weather-system, virtually every time.
In an ideal world, the ACM conduits would be laid down on existing easements such as for gas pipelines, high-power lines, or next to rail lines.
However, this is where things get rather sticky, as science and technology are trumped by politics and competition. Establishing new easements is mostly out of the question.
Gaining permissions for using existing easements is not easy. "In the U.S. there is a complex patchwork of regulatory bodies, from cities, counties, states, and regional governments", said Crocker.
While the ACM might not pollute the air or water, the noise it produces will be an issue that will need to be addressed. As the supersonic wind goes howling through this long pipe, it could act like a huge trumpet. If people are worried about the noise from windmills, what will they say about this Cold Energy conduit if it’s anywhere near a populated area?
The complication of obtaining clearances in an industrialized society is one of the primary reasons Cold Energy will probably install its first generating conduits in Africa or Asia. If all goes as planned, the first installation could be completed within two to three years of the contract signing, which is presently in negotiation.
There are also smaller-scale applications of the patent concept, such as energy generation in mines from the air gradients there.
"Prominent physicists in two or three American Universities have reviewed the concept and nearly all of them are in love with it," said Crocker. "This is the real deal."
Directory:Pipe Pressure Power - energy technology that harnesses the pressure in pipes such as is found in municipal water pipes.