|December 23, 2012
The Thiel Foundation announced today three new grants awarded through Breakout Labs, its revolutionary revolving fund to promote innovation in science and technology. The most recent award takes the program into clean energy, with a bold new proposal to harness the power of atmospheric vortexes. Breakout Labs has awarded a total of twelve grants of up to $350,000 each.
AVEtec is the brainchild of Canadian engineer, Louis Michaud. His Atmospheric Vortex Engine (AVE) harnesses the physics of tornados to produce extremely cheap and clean energy. In his design, warm or humid air is introduced into a circular station, where it takes the form of a rising vortex, i.e. a controlled tornado. The temperature difference between this heated air and the atmosphere above it supports the vortex and drives multiple turbines. The vortex can be shut down at any time by turning off the source of warm air.
Among its advantages over other sources of energy, AVE power generation neither produces carbon emissions nor needs energy storage. AVEtec projects that the cost of the energy it generates could be as low as 3 cents per kilowatt hour, making it one of the least expensive forms of energy production. An AVE power station could have a diameter of 100 meters and generate 200 megawatts of electrical power, the same order of magnitude as conventional coal power stations.