Eco Factor: Hot air balloons to be used as renewable energy generators.
We at EcoFriend love the sight of wind turbines and wind farms. However, there are still millions who hate these machines and want a replacement. Ian Edmonds, an environmental consultant with Solartran, has designed an innovative renewable generator, which is designed to provide electricity at the cost of a wind turbine and is more acceptable to society.
The generator is essentially a hot air balloon, which uses the energy of the sun to heat air inside it. As the air inside the balloon heats up, it lifts in the air and pulls a tether, which rotates a generator on the ground. Once the balloon reaches a height of 3 kilometers, the air inside is released through its vent and it comes back to the ground. Edmonds explains the whole concept as a huge two-stroke engine, with a capacity of 45 million liters, a stroke of 3 kilometers and a frequency of one revolution per hour.
Edmonds calculations reveal that a large 44-meter-diameter balloon could generate 50 kilowatts of electric power, sufficient to power 10 urban homes. Doubling this diameter would increase the amount of power generated by ten times.
The Dark Side:
If wind turbines are not acceptable, then people won’t like to see a hot air balloon with a 3 kilometer long tether. These tethers would not only look weird, but will also be hazardous for choppers and small airplanes flying at a lower altitude.