OMG!!! 6 Mile High Conduit Generates More Electricity Than The USA!!!

One of my more intellectual friends forwarded to me a proposal she put together that totally stunned me. It's one of those concepts that is so wide ranging and amazing that you first wonder why no one thought of it before, and then you wonder about the type of mind that can come up with this stuff in the first place. I wish I could conceive of projects of this magnitude but unfortunately I'm just not in this lady's league.

She submitted it to the GE Ecomagination Challenge which is an innovation project funded to the tune of $200 million where individuals can share their best ideas on how to develop the next-generation electrical power grid, with the possibility of getting the ideas (or at least the concept development) funded by major venture capital firms, including Foundation Capital, KPCB, Emerald Technology Ventures, and Rockport Capital.

Her idea is now listed on the GE website:

GE Ecomagination Challenge: 6 Mile High Conduit Generates More Electricity Than The USA

So check it out and comment on it. Personally I think that this could be a space elevator type of idea. The Space Elevator concept was originated by scifi legend Arthur C. Clarke who famously stated that "It will be built 50 years after everyone has stopped laughing." It seems that the 50 years may be up as there are various parties seriously considering constructing it now! This is just as stunning a concept and could possibly be even more revolutionary and momentous than the Space Elevator: A power source that uses no fuel and will work forever as long as it's maintained. The construction costs are massive, but the cost for electricity amortizing the construction costs would come out to one-seventh that of nuclear power plants.

Let's just get onto her proposal. It's all in there and it's all amazing:

The Proposal

We can utilize Bernoulli's Equation to calculate the siphon parameters for a soft drink being sucked through a straw. Exactly the same math can be used to determine the siphon effect of a conduit which has one end in air at 14 psi and the other in air at 3.5 psi. The air will be drawn from the area of higher pressure to the area of lower pressure.

This proposal centers around an enormous conduit which extends from nearly sea level to the top of the world's 7th tallest mountain, and actually continues upwards for an additional 1,700 metres (m). Air rushes through the conduit at nearly supersonic speeds and drives internal wind turbines to generate extreme levels of electrical power with no fuel and no pollution of any kind for as many years as the conduit remains functional.

The conduit measures 620 m in diameter at the base and tapers to 270 m as it rises to its maximum height. It is engineered with internal baffle structures to keep the airflow from reaching Mach 1. It is lined with many thousands of calibrated Helical Axis Wind Turbines throughout its 11,000 m length. Given an average wind speed inside the conduit of 1000 kilometers per hour (km/h), and the acknowledged wind power density of approximately 2 kW at 50 km/h over a 50 m turbine, with reasonable spacing for the turbines in a multiple pronged radius pattern, the amount of electricity generated should exceed 500 million kW/h, which is an amount greater than the entire electricity usage of the United States of America.

The conduit runs from a point of 500 m elevation which is excavated from the Lowest Existing Point 1,695 m +28° 31' 57.00", +83° 41' 2.40" and runs up the existing river valley 1,000 m to the existing 1,900 m elevation and continues to the ridge which begins 1,700 m southwest (Annapurna South) of the Highest Current Point (Annapurna I) 8,091m +28° 35' 43.00", +83° 49' 11.00" and terminates at the current peak. This serves as the triangulated base for the extension which reaches 1,700 m further up with a tube of 2,400 m and an outlet at 9,800 m.

This engineering challenge dwarfs any on Earth, but with costs for potentially dangerous nuclear power plants exceeding $7,000/kWe, the anticipated cost to build and operate the conduit is 500 billion US dollars or $1,000/kWe. It would cost 3.5 trillion US dollars to generate that electricity via nuclear power.

Bountiful electricity with no fuel, no pollution, and no radioactivity, forever. All it takes is the ability to dream and the will to make it happen.

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Comments 34 comments

eovery profile image

eovery 6 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

Sorry, Hal, I must have missed something. What is keeping the air on the ground now and not sucking it out into the atmosphere. Gravity. Just because you set a straw up, the suction has to over come the gravity.

This idea looks like it wasn't totally thought through to me. I understand all about Bernoulli's and mass flow, just putting a straw around it does not do anything more that the pressure difference surrounding the whole earth.

Intereresting concept.

Keep on hubbing!


menchrono 6 years ago

great hub...

think need to open my mind a little more...


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Hi guys. It's just like a siphon tube to suck gas out of a tank. If you put the tube there, the gas is not going to go anywhere. But once you prime the tube by sucking on it (not advised), it's going to start flowing and not stop until the tank is empty. In this case, the atmosphere won't ever empty as it will just go out the tube at 9800 m and settle back down again. Please show your support by following the link and voting on her proposal. :)


eovery profile image

eovery 6 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

But the suction will not over come the pull on gravity. It has to have more.

Doesn't work. The same suction you/she is talking about is pulling on all of the air in the atmosphere around the earth, now. Putting a straw in it won't make a different.

Sorry, but believe me, this does not work, or all of our air would be sucked out into space. What is stopping our air from getting sucked out in space,now. There is no mechanical blockage that stops the air from getting sucked out. All there is is gravity pulling the air to the ground. Air has weight, if not why does warmer air rise, and colder air drop -- because of the density, i.e. weight per volume of the air.

She forgot one law. The law of gravity.

The GE experts will laugh this one to death.

This is not based on sound engineering principles. I could actually show you by, calculations that the weight of the air in the 6 mile tube weighs more pressure difference in the tube. The pressure difference has to be higher than the weight of all of the air in the tube, which is 1 atmosphere pressure, or 14.7 psi or 760 mmhg. At the best, all you will be able to do is match the pressure. Therefore no flow will occur, because the differential pressure must be greater, but you will, at best only match.

This type of calculations are done on any transfer system. I work several transfer system at work, and I am familiar with the calculations.

Another example, if I hold a 2 meter pipe, the minute air pressure difference, will be in the same ratio as a 6 mile pipe. The amount of air in the tube to the pressure difference will be the same. So If I do not see air flow in 2 meter pipe, it won'w work on a longer pipe.

Keep on hubbing!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

I lack your engineering knowledge so I am not going to dispute what you're saying. However, I'm going to try researching the principles behind this independently and see what I can come up with. Thanks! :)


Misha profile image

Misha 6 years ago from DC Area

Sorry Hal, I think it won't work. Priming a siphon tube works because liquids cannot expand or contract. Gases can and will...


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Hi Misha! I know exactly what you're saying, but my question is this: I have two bottles. One has 14 psi and the other has 3.5 psi of air. I connect them with a long hose and they will equalize at around 7 psi each. However if the amount of air in each bottle is virtually infinite, the equalization process won't just settle with gradated pressure in the tube if it is sufficiently primed. Or will it. Again, pardon me because I was chasing girls when I should have been in engineering class! :)


sheila b. profile image

sheila b. 6 years ago

This is intriguing, your article and the comments. I don't have any education in the subject, so I don't have an opinion. I do enjoy reading what learned people have to say - so this has been enjoyable.


eovery profile image

eovery 6 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

Better concept. The gas will siphon out of the gas tank when the pressure of the suction is low enough to over come the weight of the gas. This is called lift, or the amount of pressure to do the work.

The pressure of on the earth crust is cause by the weight of the air, and the air above, same as when you dive in water, the pressure increases as you go down deeper in the water, from the weight of the water on top of it.

If the proposed principle work in air, it would be more efficiently done in water, because water mass is heavier than air and it can do a lot more work with a smaller volume. Thus push a 1 mile long pipe down in the ocean and let the pressure on the bottom of the ocean push the water up your pipe. So test this and push a 3 or 6 meter pipe down in the water, and see if the water runs up pipe continuously. It won't. Easier test. Cut a straw to be short than a glass of water. Push the straw down to until the top of the staw is even with the top of your glass. Check to see if the water flows. This is small scale of what you are looking at. You can test this out farther by placing a drop of food color into the glass as see if the water flow will stir up the water.

I hope this helps.

Keep on hubbing!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

sheila b., I'm with you in the sense that I have had no training in this aspect of physics. It all sounds pretty interesting and I'd love it to work, but as eovery and Misha have been pointing out, the concept may have flaws. I think that the essential problem is how to avoid the pressure equalization and I've been searching around for a couple of hours and haven't really come up with anything that I can point to to prove that it would work. But I'll keep on lookin'!

eovery, I'm still stuck on the "priming the pump" hypothesis. If a strong enough windflow was established inside the conduit at launch (maybe by sealing one end and evacuating the tube by heating or spinning the turbines backwards or ??? and then popping the "lid") would that windflow just cease, due to the point Misha brought up of the compressability of gases or ??? Dang. Too bad I had that incredible hottie sitting next to me in high school physics! I'm really regretting it today! :)


sweetie1 profile image

sweetie1 6 years ago from India

Hi this is a very nice hub and concept though i got my reservations that it looks nice on paper and wont work eventually,


Earth Angel profile image

Earth Angel 6 years ago

Hi Hal!!

This is a fabulous Hub including the comments that have followed!! I LOVE the dialog surrounding alternative clean forms of energy!! We ALL must be diligent about participating in the process to discover cleaner/safer forms of renewable energy!!

Personally, I like the idea your friend proposed!! It must have SOME merit or GE wouldn't have posted it on their web site!!??

Why not ask your delightful friend to respond to some of the objections posed above?? Certainly she thought through the same concerns and could clear the air (pun intended) for those of us less scientifically coordinated!!??

I look forward to more debate and the sound eco-solutions that will follow!!

Blessings to you and yours always, Earth Angel!!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

sweetie1, it's actually kind of funny in that since I posted this Hub I've been checking into the physics behind it and I haven't found anything that says it will work, but I'm still looking. Not only that, but I've been coming up with all sorts of ideas of my own, so it's been a great exercise!

Hi Earth Angel! I haven't heard from her since she sent me the proposal but I'm sure that she will respond to comments on the GE site. There's a comment section just like that one over there, and the comments will also help her proposal get visibility from the judges, so see you there! Thanks! :)


parrster profile image

parrster 6 years ago from Oz

I wonder if the greater wind speeds at higher altitudes would contribute to increased airflow through the tube, similar to the venturi effect with liquids. Would this be enough to overcome gravity?

http://everything2.com/title/venturi+effect

http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/wea00/wea001...


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Hi parrster. First of all I'd like to refer everyone to the Hub I've just written which looks at a whole bunch of "maybe impossible" green power generation devices which just might be contenders for the GE funding:

http://hubpages.com/technology/The-Top-Green-Power...

Now onto your statement. Yeah, this is what I'm stuck on. Misha and eovery have made some very eloquent statements sustaining physics, but I'm thinking that if the entire tube was sealed at the 500 m level, evacuated so that the entire tube is at the 3.5 psi of the outlet and then the 14 psi air at the bottom let in through a controlled flow, that extremely high wind velocity MIGHT be self sustaining! I'm hoping that the author of the original submission replies to my email soon, or better yet responds to comment that WE WILL ALL go place on the GE site by following the link in the Hub! :)


eovery profile image

eovery 6 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

I showed this to a couple of my collegues and they told me a simpler explanation. Gravity is pulling the air down and causing the pressure. It is that simple. Nothing to do with suction and pump. This is just gravity of miles of air stacked on top of each other addition up to 14.7 psi.

The pressure difference is already there putting pipe into does not make a bit of difference. The same air differnce exists all around tte earth and it is caused by gravity. The only thing that can cause air movement is temperature where you get up drafts and down drafts because the air at one level gets warmer or colder and changes it's density so that is it heavier or lighter than air above or below it, so gravity pulls on it differently.

Keep on hubbing!


quicksand profile image

quicksand 6 years ago

There was some experiment performed in some wind tunnel where an attempt was made to cause air to flow at mach-1 and something unexplainable happened. My memory fades at this point. I don't remember the source either. Do you? :)


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Hi eovery, and thanks again for your ongoing and very valuable contributions. I am completely in agreement that if you just build the tunnel and have it sit there with two open ends nothing much is going to happen. However, if the bottom was closed and at 3.5 psi and it was suddenly opened, there is no doubt that there would be a very strong suction effect. Whether the suction would be self-perpetuating or just fizzle out after seconds or minutes... that's what I'm having a problem confirming! :)

Hi quicksand. Hypersonic wind tunnels regularly exceed Mach 10 and the major problem with those is that when air reaches these velocities it gets so cold it starts to liquefy. I don't have any recollection of any specific Mach 1 problem.


Headstrong Farm profile image

Headstrong Farm 6 years ago from Rhode Island

I think that there are a few possible solutions to keeping the air flowing through the conduit and they are pretty simple in theory and probably in design. First would be simply to warm the conduit using parabolic solar reflectors. The fact that the conduit would decrease in diameter will increase the pressure which could be counter-productive if you're heating it.

My take is that I'm sure there are ways to engineer the aerodynamics that it could work as proposed...

Another posibility would be to use heat exchangers at the top to cool the air enough to cause it to flow down the other side.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

You propose some very interesting aspects which I will forward to the author. I love the idea of the heat exchangers. After all you could have a nearly 100 degree C difference from top to bottom. That could certainly be used SOMEHOW. I hope she replies soon! :)


quicksand profile image

quicksand 6 years ago

Hi again Hal, I was probably referring to that particular experiment but my poor memory left the zero out of mach-10. Now I faintly recall the problem associated with air "chilling" at that velocity. I was baffled as to why the air chills since it was not a question of compressed air released through an opening. I still am! :)

Quite apart from that, I was under the impression that no object can travel exactly at mach-1. I thought it has to be slightly below or slighty above. What do you think?

Cheers!


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

In wind tunnels air is usually heated in a settling chamber as it will lose its latent heat when it is transformed into the energy of motion. In a Mach 5 tunnel 200 degree F preheated air cools to -350 F, and in a Mach 10 tunnel the air has to be heated to 3000 F. Any cooler and it turns into liquid air! Yikes! As for traveling at exactly Mach 1 over a prolonged period, you're absolutely right. Pretty soon shockwave stagnation sets in and your aerodynamics drop off. Double Yikes! :)


quicksand profile image

quicksand 6 years ago

In this case air behaves as if it is released from a pressurized chamber, absobing heat from the surroundings and "chilling out," right? How about any friction caused by air particles rubbing against the inner walls of the tunnel? What do you think? :)


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

I think that you've outlined some brilliant concepts. There might be a whole new level of effects in this tunnel all of which could be harnessed in some way to generate even more electricity! :)


vaguesan profile image

vaguesan 6 years ago from Osaka, Japan

So if it only works with liquids why not do the same setup, but instead do it with water. You said the structure has to start at sea level right? Why not run a tube from the ocean up as high as it can go. Do a little suction, and pull water up through the tube. I'm not sure if it would actually suck water through fast enough to generate enough energy, but after the water is pulled to the top it would then have to travel back to the sea and could used again with more water turbines and also to irrigate if it were instead pulled from a lake.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

That is a very interesting idea and I don't know if the author had thought of that. My concern would be that once you got the water to an altitude of 10 km it would freeze solid, as the temps up there are around -50 C. Perhaps the speed of the water going up (and back down) the tube might keep it from freezing, but I really am not sure about that. Fascinating concept though! :)


TRACY 6 years ago

WHY NOT LAY THE TOBE IN THE GULF STREEM, WITH A 2M/PS FLOW IT SHOULD TURN A TURBINE.

THERE IS A TEAM WORKING ON HARNISING THE POWER OF THE GULF STREEM CALLED THE GULFSTREEM PROJECT THIS COULD ANSWER SOME OF THERE QUESTIONS ON HOW TO PROTECT SEA LIFE.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

The problem with water turbines is that they have an unfortunate habit of turning sealife into sushi. They can't be screened as they quickly become blocked with algae, etc. and leaving them open can devastate everything from small fish to whales. :(


nicomp profile image

nicomp 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

Keep in mind that Dr. Evil reads your hubs, for obvious reasons. Expect the world to be held hostage very soon, as the bald meanie threatens to siphon away the atmosphere from the our major cities.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

AHA! But I am ready to save the world since in my secret lab hidden deep below Minna St. I have been perfecting my Anti-Dr-Evil Ray which will recapture the runaway atmosphere while cleansing it of all greenhouse gases and excess methane from my last chili meal! :)


nicomp profile image

nicomp 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

I knew that deep down you were a greenie.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

I'm an old hippie. We invented green living! :)


nicomp profile image

nicomp 6 years ago from Ohio, USA

Well, yeah, but green mold between the toes at Woodstock isn't *exactly* what we're speaking of.


Hal Licino profile image

Hal Licino 6 years ago from Toronto Author

Dude, between the toes is nuthin'... the real problem is the green mold between the... er... never mind. :)

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