Energy tower for producing electricity set for Arizona

May 05, 2014 by Nancy Owano weblog

Solar Wind Energy Tower (SWET) with a focus on "solar wind downdraft tower" structures for producing electricity last month announced it got the green light from San Luis, Arizona, to develop such a tower in the city, which is located on the southwest corner of Arizona, a border town to San Luis, Sonora, Mexico.

As the name " downdraft" suggests, the company has developed what is described as a hybrid solar-wind technology approach that can harness the power of a downdraft, created when water is introduced to hot dry air. The company said that its hybrid system is able to outperform pure that produce only when the sun is shining and also wind turbines that produce only when the wind is blowing. Instead, the company has a hybrid advantage of being able to produce abundant, clean, affordable electricity.

The tower that SWET has in mind is located in a hot dry area. The tower structure is a hollow cylinder reaching skyward into the dry atmosphere heated by the solar rays of the sun. The water introduced by the injection system near the top of the Tower evaporates and is absorbed by the hot, dry air. The air becomes cooler, denser and heavier than the outside warmer air and falls through the cylinder at speeds up to and in excess of 50 mph. The air is diverted into wind tunnels surrounding the base of the tower where turbines inside the tunnels power generators to produce electricity. (Each tunnel has a dedicated generator-room, with multiple-sized generators, powered by the patented drive system. The tower produces clean , 24 hours day and night, 365 days a year.)

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Solar Wind Energy Tower has now secured the site for its first tower project in the U.S. and this tower will sit on a 600-acre piece of land in San Luis. The company may have the tower ready for operation as soon as 2018.The site is convenient to public utilities and the electrical substation for the city of San Luis, according to a news release, which said the water needed for tower operations will be provided by the City of San Luis at an agreed-upon contract rate for a minimum period of 50 years.

A Bloomberg report about the tower said the project is being proposed by the company near the Mexico border to prove the concept, with the goal of licensing the process to developers.

The press release noted that the company's "standard business model "now and will continue to be the licensing of its patented process and know-how to developers around the world," Nonetheless, said the release, "management chose to devote significant resources to guarantee that a site could be developed in the U.S. and become a standard of highly efficient, affordable, renewable energy production moving forward." Once the component parts for a tower project in San Luis are in place, "Solar Wind Energy is confident that the door will swing wide open for additional projects in the U.S. and around the globe."

Explore further: Website shines light on renewable energy resources

More information: www.solarwindenergytower.com

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User comments : 23

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holoman
3.7 / 5 (3) May 05, 2014
Guess they haven't heard about the drought.
The Singularity
not rated yet May 05, 2014
Have they just invented an air conditioner that generates electricity?
eric_in_chicago
not rated yet May 05, 2014
if they can build apartments around the circumference, too, that would be awesome.
eric_in_chicago
not rated yet May 05, 2014
if they can build apartments around the circumference, too, that would be awesome.
eric_in_chicago
not rated yet May 05, 2014
single,

this would be more along the lines of what you said...

http://www.clarke...nes-orc/
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) May 05, 2014
if they can build apartments around the circumference, too, that would be awesome.

Might be a bit loud. And windy. And shady.

But it's certainly a novel take on the solar towers that have been tried before (not particularly successfully). It'll be interesting to see how much water this uses. Even if the water use is high it may be useful on coastlines of hot countries.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) May 05, 2014
That shape... Couldn't we somehow reconfigure nuke cooling towers to function this way? Wouldn't that be elegant. And ironic. And funny.

As far as incorporating this into a habitable structure, here is something similar
http://acidadebra...tructure
Scottingham
2.5 / 5 (2) May 05, 2014
I hope the water is at least partly reclaimable. Otherwise this seems like a pretty large waste of it. The water would also likely have to be pretty clean or you'd get nasty buildups in the tower.
orti
not rated yet May 05, 2014
The real problem with wind, solar, and this is energy storage (where do you store the excess for use when production is low). The only numbers I've found for this one is 1250 MW-hr/hr peak and 435 MW-hr/hr average throughout the year, which implies a considerable variation from peak to minimum production. The scheme for a large scale operation like this is to tie into the grid supported by available-on-demand suppliers (which are then forced to operate at low efficiency because of the same high-to-low peak variation).

I've seen this method (less the turbines) used in Arizona for backyard patio cooling. Works great. You get shade from the tower and maximum cooling in the hottest part of day.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) May 05, 2014
I hope the water is at least partly reclaimable.

The idea behind a cooling tower (or such an up/downdraft system) is that the water condenses at the top and falls back (that's why these towers widen again at the top so that the airflow slows down, and pressure drops). Most water will fall back. Some does escape (which is what you see as white clouds escaping cooling towers on powerplants).

How much loss you have depends somewhat of the temperature(differential) at which you are operating such a tower. Some loss will be inevitable. If you can use seawater that might not be a huge problem (though you may have to write off farmland downwind that will get a nice salt crust over time. But there is little farmland that close to shore...which might mitigate that particular issue.)
orti
5 / 5 (1) May 05, 2014
antialias. I think the water is injected (as a mist) at the top and is 100% lost (as water vapor) at the bottom.
tekram
3.5 / 5 (2) May 05, 2014
More hype than substance. The company is more about penny stock IPOs than real innovation.

The solar updraft tower has a power conversion rate considerably lower than many other designs. 600 acres as mentioned is about 1 sq mile, which will give a power generation of only about 15 MW or about 15,000 household.
orti
not rated yet May 05, 2014
tekram, I think it uses downdraft, and if you follow the link above, the company says "San Luis, Arizona, has a gross production capacity on an hourly basis, of up to 1,250 megawatt hours", which I admit sounds quite bizarre for anything but a monster sized one.
krundoloss
5 / 5 (1) May 05, 2014
In the video they say that most of the water is reclaimed in the turbines at the bottom, and reused. This is a nice system in that it can produce constant electricity!
Sean_W
5 / 5 (1) May 05, 2014
If a way to use sea water at the top without salt depositing in the mechanical parts at the bottom it might be useful in the many coastal areas which adjoin deserts and wasteland areas.
TopCat22
not rated yet May 05, 2014
will they use brown water sewage water? kill two birds with one stone by saving sewage treatment costs on the dirty water.
Osiris1
not rated yet May 05, 2014
Good Idea! I like it. But the Audubon Society probably will not as those folks will claim it is the biggest...baddest...bird sucker and burgerizer since God created green apples.
Protoplasmix
not rated yet May 05, 2014
The force of the wind is proportional to the cube of the wind's speed—50 mph sustained 24/7 year-round sounds like the ideal wind farm.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet May 06, 2014
"antialias. I think the water is injected (as a mist) at the top and is 100% lost (as water vapor) at the bottom."

-The best way to refute aa's guesswork is to find the description of how it works on the internet, and copy/paste it here. aa will never admit hes wrong but everybody else will know whos right.
FainAvis
not rated yet May 11, 2014
The gaseous state of water is lighter than air, at a similar temperature. (See wikipedia, water vapor). So humid air will rise over dry air. Also, I have never seen a cooling tower suck clouds in at the top. What is going on in this tower? Some new physics perhaps. Will we next see tornados spinning downwards?
jaredlee
not rated yet May 11, 2014
.. I am assuming the dry air is moving downward as the h20 molecules raise? I seriously dont know and they need more details but there may be a way 2 pull the heavier dry air downward
TomaszJanickiTJ
not rated yet May 12, 2014
It is like a Windtrap from Frank Herbert's "Dune" :)
SuperSteve
not rated yet May 13, 2014
This configuration is stupid beyond belief! When I came up with my version of this idea, it was to paint the tower black, and have the air moving upwards. My system has multiple intakes which route the air through tunnels, which are deep enough to take advantage of the temperature differential, and thus ADD to the wind speed. While this concept will work, why fight entropy (and, pay for the battle), when you can plug your system right into it, and ride the wave? This concept will waste water, and EXPEND energy pumping it through the walls of the tower, as well as the necessity, and expense of hauling water to the tower!

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