Downdraft Tower: A New Take On Wind Power

Maryland company says it is ready to move from research work to actual development of its renewable energy concept, a wind power idea the likes of which we have not seen before.

Here’s the idea from Clean Wind Energy Tower: You put a huge, hollow cylinder out in the desert Southwest. You spray a fine mist of water at the top of the tower. The hot, dry air evaporates the water, cools, gains weight and sinks. Voila, a downdraft. Turbines at the base of the tower take advantage of this downdraft within the hollow cylinder to power generators.

Clean Wind Energy Tower

image via Clean Wind Energy Tower

In addition, the company says the “Downdraft Tower” has vertical “wind vanes” the length of the structure that capture and channel wind through a separate system of tunnels to produce additional electricity. “This dual renewable energy source enhances the capability and productivity of the downdraft tower system,” the company says on its website.

Clean Wind Energy Tower

image via Clean Wind Energy Tower

An obvious question is whether pumping water up in order to gain energy from it when it falls is going to be a net energy win. Clean Wind Energy Tower says it will be.  The “Downdraft Tower will generate up to 2,500 megawatts per hour, gross,” the company says, “of which approximately one-third will be used to power its operations, leaving up to 1,500 megawatts per hour available for sale to the power grid.”

We should point out that the announcement that Clean Wind Energy Tower was looking to develop the product came with a rather ominous-sounding management shake-up, as the company’s chief technology officer, chief structural engineer program manager manager all resigned, and Clean Wind Energy Tower said it “anticipates that there may be disputes from former employees.”

Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

    • http://twitter.com/costlows Sarah Costlow

      Smart and simple…Brilliant engineers.

    • http://twitter.com/costlows Sarah Costlow

      Brilliant!

    • Hosea8-7

      Please read: http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/molecular-mass-air-d_679.html
      If, as it says at the link above, moist air is less dense than dry air, how will the air fall down the tower?

      • http://www.facebook.com/petedanko PD

        The moisture sprayed at the top of the tower isn’t carried down the tower. It evaporates. This evaporation cools the air. The cool air then sinks.

        • http://www.facebook.com/petedanko PD

          Of course, whether this type of scheme really pencils out or not, who knows. As far as I know, the company hasn’t made any progress in financing it in the nearly two years since we wrote this story.