Tornadoes generally evoke the destructive force of nature at its most awesome. However, what if all that power could be harnessed to produce cheaper and more efficient electricity? This is just what Canadian engineer Louis Michaud proposes to achieve, with an invention dubbed the “Atmospheric Vortex Engine” (or AVE).

AVE works by introducing warm air into a circular station, whereupon the difference in temperature between this heated air and the atmosphere above creates a vortex – or controlled tornado, which in turn drives multiple wind turbines in order to create electricity. The vortex could be shut down by simply turning off the source of warm air.

Michaud’s company, AVEtec Energy Corporation, reports that the system produces no carbon emissions, nor requires energy storage to function, and that further to this, the cost of energy generated could potentially be as low as US$0.03 per kilowatt hour.

"The power in a tornado is undisputed," enthused Michaud. "My work has established the principles by which we can control and exploit that power to provide clean energy on an unprecedented scale."

The heat required to get the mini-tornado started would be provided by a temporary heat source, such as a heater, or steam. However, AVEtec states that once the vortex is thus established, the continuous heat could then be provided by a more sustainable source – such as waste industrial heat or warm seawater. According to the company’s figures, a functional AVE power station with a 100-meter (328-foot) diameter is capable of generating up to 200 megawatts of electrical power.

For now though, efforts are focused on producing an 8-meter (26-foot) prototype, which will create a 40-meter (141-foot) high vortex, with a diameter of 30 centimeters (11 inches). The vortex will power a single 1-meter (3.2-foot) turbine, and will be manufactured in partnership with Lambton College, in Sarnia, Ontario. This development is helped forward by a grant awarded by Breakout Labs.

AVEtec’s numbers can be scrutinized in full via the source link below.

View gallery - 5 images