How to increase
the electrical output
of a nuclear
generating plant by 20% --
by David Delaney, September 30,
Nuclear generating plants operate at a thermal efficiency of about
33%. A plant that generates one gigawatt of electrical power
discards waste heat to the environment at a rate of two
gigawatts. If 10% of the waste heat could be turned into
electric power, yielding 0.2 gigawatt of additional
electrical power, the total electrical power output of the plant would
rise by 20%.
There has always been a very serious obstacle to converting any
of the waste heat into electrical power. You need a heat
engine to do it--an engine that allows a working fluid to expand and
cool while doing work. The efficiency of a heat engine depends on the
difference between the temperature of the working fluid at the input to
the engine and at the output after it has been allowed to expand and
work. The greater this temperature difference, the more
work energy you can get out a given input of heat energy into the
engine. The problem with the waste heat from a nuclear plant is that,
although it's pretty warm in human terms, its about as cool as it can
be and still be rejected efficiently to the local environment of the
plant. You cannot get any more work out of it without making it a
lot cooler, and there's no efficient source of coolth near the plant to
cool the output end of a heat engine enough to get more work
(electricity) out of that waste heat.
Louis Michaud saw where to get the necessary coolth--5000 to 10000
meters up in the atmosphere where it is very cold all the time.
He saw that if you replaced a conventional cooling tower by a chimney
several thousands meters high (say five times higher than the
tallest building in the world) the powerful draft up that chimney
could be made to turn turbines to generate electrical power. He
calculated that the work that could be extracted from that draft would
be about 10% of the waste heat going into the bottom of the chimney.
But the really clever part is his chimney. Michaud knew that a
tornado would make an airy substitute for an expensive and probably
unbuildable solid chimney. As the air of a tornado spins and
rises, almost all of its energy goes to raising the air it contains and
to creating havoc (work) at ground level. There is almost no loss
to friction with the surrounding air or to turbulent processes inside
the tornado above ground level. The rapid spinning of the air in
the walls of the tornado is laminar and almost frictionless.
A tornado is an efficient, inexpensive, chimney. Michaud devised
a way to produce an artificial tornado, a tame
tornado, with the waste heat from a nuclear plant. Air
rushing into the bottom of the tornado turns turbines that produce
electricity equivalent to 10% of the waste heat energy that creates the
See Louis Marc Michaud's US patent application, Atmospheric vortex engine,
application number 20040112055, http://davidmdelaney.com/tornado/US20040112055-michaud-louis-marc.pdf
Why should we believe that Louis Michaud is not just another crackpot
inventor? During the day, Michaud works
as a process engineer in an oil refinery. He's done that for
thirty years. In his evenings, he's an amateur
meterological scientist. He writes
papers on how to calculate the attributes of tornados and hurricanes.
He's also done that for thirty years, and has produced a string of
papers in refereed meteorological journals. He's an amateur
scientist, but only in the sense that he's not paid to be one.
his publication list at http://www3.sympatico.ca/louis.michaud/Tornadoenergy.htm
Wouldn't permanent tornados dotted around the countryside pose a hazard
to aviation? Certainly, but a time is approaching when the
inconvenience of that hazard may be much less than the
inconvenience of insufficient electricity.