Swirling air currents drive a new turbine in this Department of Energy project.


Dust Devils Power Energy Machine

FEB 28, 2013 06:00 PM ET // BY ERIC NIILER

Dust devils are swirling micro-tornadoes that pop up regularly in dry, warm climates or during the summertime. Researchers say they have figured out how to tame the tiny twisters and extract their energy using a rotating turbine blade.

A team at Georgia Tech has built a small demonstration prototype about three feet wide. It looks like the inside of an aircraft engine rotor turned on its side. Warm air flows in through a series of vanes that force the buoyant ground-heated air to rotate as it rises.

This spinning creates a powerful vortex, or “dust devil,” according to Ari Glezer, the principal investigator and professor of mechanical engineering at Georgia Tech. As the column of air rises, it draws in more hot air to keep going.

Read more: Dust Devils Power Energy Machine : Discovery News.

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