If all goes according to plan, the US-Mexican border area in Arizona’s San Luis is set to be the recipient of a revolutionary piece of architectural and technological ingenuity. First patented in 1975 by Phillip Carlson, the downdraft energy tower is a structure that will generate clean power through the use of wind turbines and solar heated air. The site for the project has already received approval for land lease and is now in the process of obtaining zonal approval.
Dr Ramu Guetta and Prof Dan Zaslavsky of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have sought to implement Carlson’s idea and if all goes well, then the project will provide the residents of the border area with a clean energy alternative.
In a hollow downdraft energy tower, solar heated air is sprayed with water at the top of the structure, making the air denser and heavier. As the air falls through the hollow building, it drives installed wind turbines to generate electricity.
Clean Wind Energy Tower, Inc or CWET is the company behind the plan and has proposed to build not one but two such structures. The towers will stand 3,000 feet tall but instead of sucking resources from the environment, they will attempt to give more back.
The concept of such a tower is daring to say the least. Not impossible but it requires in-depth planning to gauge just how much of an impact such a facility will have on the environment. Since water will be used to cool the solar heated air, there needs to be a system in place where this life source doesn’t impact the border’s residents negatively. To deal with the energy needed to pump the water up to 3,000 feet, Guetta and Zaslavsky proposed installing vertical wind turbines that should ideally be able to generate power between 1 and 4 cents per kWh.