Environmental Benefits of Vortex Power

Swimming like the Fish

A 100 ton humpback whale propels itself 30 feet into the air using nothing but vortex power. Using vortex shedding to extract energy from ocean currents brings with it several environmental benefits. There are no blades or rotating vanes or 'egg beaters' constantly presenting a deadly danger to any sea life unfortunate enough to interact with them. Keeping electrical generation units out of the ocean also removes any possibility of contamination with fluids or metals.

Since the primary means of locomotion in the ocean involves forming and shedding vortexes, for marine creature interacting with the Vortex Power Drive, it would be the same experience as swimming within a school of fish. The water flowing past the faces of the Drives would safely carry along with it any swimming creature and with no protruding blades they would safely flow past the Arrays. Larger fish and mammals swimming closer to the Drives would have a different interaction. Any body large enough to interfere with the formation of vortices would stop the swinging acting of the drives as it is that formation that provided the energy for the extraction process. Stopping the Drives in this way would render them motionless while the vortices are prevented from forming. Once the obstruction moves away the Drives would automatically resume the swinging motion.

A Marine Reserve?

A 65 MW installation of Arrays in a 2 m/s flow will cover approximately a square kilometer/mile. This area will no longer be available to commercial drag net fishing. This area will be available to sport fishing, recreational uses like surface sports, sailing and diving. There will be a very large benefit for marine life situated within this boundary. It has been shown in marine reserves worldwide that once you stop commercial drag net fishing the local aquatic life returns, slowly, to the area. Installing arrays of Drives will replicate the effects of marine reserves.

Carbon Footprint

Coal plants are the United States top source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, the primary cause of global warming. In 2011, utility coal plants in the United States emitted a total of 1.7 billion tons of CO2 (1). A typical coal plant generates 3.5 million tons of CO2 per year (2). Burning coal is also a leading cause of smog, acid rain, and toxic air pollution. Some emissions can be significantly reduced with readily available pollution controls, but most U.S. coal plants have not installed these technologies.

Sulfur dioxide (SO2): Coal plants are the United States’ leading source of SO2 pollution, which takes a major toll on public health, including by contributing to the formation of small acidic particulates that can penetrate into human lungs and be absorbed by the bloodstream. SO2 also causes acid rain, which damages crops, forests, and soils, and acidifies lakes and streams. A typical uncontrolled coal plant emits 14,100 tons of SO2 per year. A typical coal plant with emissions controls, including flue gas desulfurization (smokestack scrubbers), emits 7,000 tons of SO2 per year.

Nitrogen oxides (NOx): NOx pollution causes ground level ozone, or smog, which can burn lung tissue, exacerbate asthma, and make people more susceptible to chronic respiratory diseases. A typical uncontrolled coal plant emits 10,300 tons of NOx per year. A typical coal plant with emissions controls, including selective catalytic reduction technology, emits 3,300 tons of NOx per year.

Particulate matter: Particulate matter (also referred to as soot or fly ash) can cause chronic bronchitis, aggravated asthma, and premature death, as well as haze obstructing visibility. A typical uncontrolled plan emits 500 tons of small airborne particles each year. Baghouses installed inside coal plant smokestacks can capture as much as 99 percent of the particulates.

Mercury: Coal plants are responsible for more than half of the U.S. human-caused emissions of mercury, a toxic heavy metal that causes brain damage and heart problems. Just 1/70th of a teaspoon of mercury deposited on a 25-acre lake can make the fish unsafe to eat. A typical uncontrolled coal plants emits approximately 170 pounds of mercury each year. Activated carbon injection technology can reduce mercury emissions by up to 90 percent when combined with baghouses. ACI technology is currently found on just 8 percent of the U.S. coal fleet.

Other harmful pollutants emitted annually from a typical, uncontrolled coal plant include approximately: 114 pounds of lead, 4 pounds of cadmium, other toxic heavy metals, and trace amounts of uranium. Baghouses can reduce heavy metal emissions by up to 90 percent (3). 720 tons of carbon monoxide, which causes headaches and places additional stress on people with heart disease. 220 tons of hydrocarbons, volatile organic compounds (VOC), which form ozone. 225 pounds of arsenic, which will cause cancer in one out of 100 people who drink water containing 50 parts per billion.

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Clearly, given everything noted above, any technology that can directly replace coal fired energy generation provides significant environmental and societal benefits.

1 EIA Data

2 Typical plant assumptions: Capacity=600 MW; Capacity Factor=69%; Heat Rate=10,415; CO2 Emissions Rate=206 pounds of CO2/Million Btu

3 Nescaum. “Control Technologies to Reduce Conventional and Hazardous Air Pollutants from Coal-Fired Power Plants.” March 31, 2011.