We know skyscrapers – and other structures of human occupation – consume a lot of energy over their lifetime, but what if there was a skyscraper that generated energy instead?
When completed, the proposed Downdraft Tower will make this possible. The Downdraft Tower is the central project of the Clean Wind Energy company, a public company who focuses on green alternatives to traditional wind sourced energy.
Further developing a concept that was created nearly thirty years ago, the tower would utilize proven methods to create a reliable source of wind energy. The tower could operate in most climates, though it is ideal for use in hot, arid climates.
The Downdraft Tower is taller than the highest building in America, which is currently the Willis Tower in Chicago, perhaps better known as the Sears Tower. To create energy, pumps spray a mist of water at the top of the tower. Next, hot air is introduced and the fuel source is created as the mist and hot air mingle. While the water evaporates the air cools, making it denser than the outside air. As the air gets heavier it falls down the tunnel at speeds around 50 mph. This downdraft is captured at the base of the tower and diverted into a wind tunnel, where several wind turbines are installed and operate. Here the turbines can collect up to 90 percent of the total energy generated, compared to a maximum of 50 percent collected by traditional wind source.
One Downdraft Tower is the equivalent of at least one nuclear plant, but without the inherit hazards, and generates 2,5000 kWh of energy, some of which will be used to operate the tower. This leaves 1,100 kWh or more that will be generated for a direct sale to grid operations.
The Downdraft Tower also proves more reliable than traditional wind source. Wind farms can be unreliable as their energy output may vary due to changes in weather. On any given day the natural wind may be stronger or weaker, and thus, the amount of energy generated unpredictable and inconsistent. Whereas the Downdraft Tower can adapt to varied weather patterns, allowing for a consistent energy output.
Because weather data is now more easily and accurately predicted than a few decades ago, water amounts can be increased or decreased depending on current levels of humidity or fluctuations in temperature. Necessary wind amounts can also be predicted based on documented temperatures in the area of operation. This allows generators to run at a constant rate of 18 revolutions per minute (rpm) on an average day, with generators slowing down on windy days and working more on days with less wind activity.
Another virtue of the Downdraft Tower, is that the it is profitable from day one, because traditional finance is enough to get started and receive a payback, without the need for financial aid. The installation cost of the tower is equal to, and sometimes less than, that of traditional wind farms. While operating costs are about a third of the cost of traditional wind source.
There are currently plans to build the first two towers near Yuma, Arizona. Together, they will generate enough electricity to power up to 1.2 million homes in California and Arizona. With the construction and operations of these two towers and other towers will also come a wave of green jobs, from white collared professionals to construction crews.
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