back to article PayPal founder funds 'tornado-driven' power plant

PayPal co-founder Peter Theiss’ Breakout Labs has spun some pin-money in the direction of a Canadian inventor who claims to have a “zero-carbon” electricity generator that works by creating a captive “atmospheric vortex”. Or, in the more hyperbolic language of Breakout Labs, AVEtec, it’s a “tornado” driven generator. …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just a cover story for starting work on the secret volcano lair.

    1. Rukario

      And I guess the details of grafting frickin lasers to frickin sharks' heads is still secret.

    2. beep54

      Ah, and for a sec there I thought my brain had flipped out. Sez 'volcano' in my email, but the more (slightly) reasonable 'tornado' in the actual article. Now I REALLY want to hear about volcano-driven power! Although, it does still sound a bit, well, iffy....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Volcano driven power plan designs are childs play, provided you can keep them from the eventual meltdown at eruption time..... and keep the turbines from being destroyed by the caustic chemicals.

      2. jonathanb Silver badge

        That is essentially geothermal energy, which provides most of Iceland's electricity requirements.

  2. David Pollard

    Flying pigs

    The basic introduction on AVE's site reckons it is possible to couple the waste heat from a power station at 50 ºC to the upper troposphere at -21 ºC and thus with a Carnot efficiency of 23% achieve a "Typical Efficiency (Estimated)" for the Vortex Engine of about 20%.

    Page 22

    Good luck with that then.

    1. Mips

      Re: Flying pigs

      And it not even a new idea. I seem to recall an article in these pages some years ago about a similar project in Spain which was solar heated.

      That did not get off the ground either. Seems the warm desert wind are not enough (cue for a song).

  3. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    Solar Thermal

    "Solar thermal" simply describes any system that extracts heat from sunlight for use as an energy source, with or without transport. The CSIRO system uses a "power tower" to collect the solar energy, with air as the working fluid driving a gas turbine engine to generate electricity, but not all solar thermal systems use air as the working fluid, and electricity is not always the end product. A roof-mounted solar hot water system also counts, as a fairly domestic example.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That technogy already exists.

    Natural gas power plants already do this. There's a enough exhaust heat from two gas turbines generators to power a third steam powered turbine. But California wants to shut them down to be more "green".

    1. James 36

      Re: That technogy already exists.

      Its called Combined Heat and Power (CHP) or cogeneration , I worked at an engioneering consultancy that design and project managed them in the for my year out a uni.

      Really high thermal efficiency

      The "tornado" thing looks abit s**t in comparison as it looks like a complex way to caputure thermal energy whereas CHP just uses the heat to create steam.

      There are smaller plats that use diesel engines and make hot water. I think there were some waste gas (animal waste and rubbish genertated methane) powered CHP plants in Europe as well in the early 90's is that green enough

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: That technogy already exists.

        No, CHP is different. That's when you take the heat output and sell it as heat, which is incredibly efficient if you happen to have someone or something nearby that wants a lot of heat.

        What the GP was talking about was "combined cycle" generation - you take the waste heat from your primary generation process, and and use it to generate yet more electricity, thus increasing your overall efficiency.

        Two entirely different principles, and not entirely compatible with each other (i.e. you can't do both with the same plant, at least not without seriously compromising efficiency).

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: That technogy already exists.

        Even the excess steam is piped for other purposes. In California the steam is piped down oil wells to soften up the crude to get every drop they can.

  5. Stephen 2

    real volcano

    Came here expecting to see something making use of a real volcano

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: real volcano

      Yeah, if we are naming things after natural disasters, I'd call this more of a tornado.

    2. Wzrd1

      Re: real volcano

      Do you mean, things like geothermal power plants?

      Already long in use in Iceland.

  6. Magani

    Prior art.

    "Using heated air to generate power isn’t new,..."

    It's been going on for years in places like Canberra, Westminster, Washington, etc

    1. Captain DaFt

      Re: Prior art.

      I'm confused... I thought that people in those places are given power, and use it to generate hot air!

      1. JetSetJim

        Re: Prior art.

        It's a self-supporting cycle - the only known perpetual motion machine

      2. Evil Auditor

        Re: Prior art.

        @Captain Daft: it's a vicious circle: ...power generating hot air generating more power... and so on.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Tut tut...

          There is no exception to the First Law of Thermodynamics, so the system must be feeding itself on something like the tears of voters, rectal cash infusions from lobbyists, etc...


          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Tut tut...

            I don't know about that - I submitted that question to Wolfram Alpha, and it swears it's working on it, but it's still stuck at "INSUFFICIENT DATA FOR MEANINGFUL ANSWER." Oh well, it'll get there eventually....

  7. gregthecanuck

    Round and round she goes

    Seems to me they are simply putting a new spin on old ideas.

  8. Mystic Megabyte

    Won't anyone think of the children, birds?

    My coat is the one that's been sucked into the troposphere along with all the ground level soot particles.

  9. Pondule

    Plane crashes?

    What happens if an aeroplane flies through the virtual chimney created by the vortex?

  10. southpacificpom

    I'm starting a KickStarter project along similar lines but I will use a black hole instead of a tornado. Just having trouble with the over the top sucking motion currently, if I can get this sorted I will be onto somthing. I just need about $1bn to get started.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I can think of one green city that will pass

    I can think of one LEED green city that will likely take a pass on being powered by tornado.,_Kansas

  12. Anonymous Coward

    How long until ScyFy Channel does an escaped tornado disaster movie?

    Megatwiswer vs. Sharktopus!!

  13. admiraljkb

    Anyone else thinking they should call this...

    a "Vortex Manipulator" and get some Whovian fan fundage?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You, sir, owe me a new keyboard!

  15. Mike Flugennock

    Well, at least... of the founders of PayPal did something interesting with all the money from the user accounts which were frozen for no apparent reason.

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