Can Cloud Power Supply Both Clean Water and Clean Energy?
We’re probably all well aware of the renewable energy potential of the more common clean energy sources, such as wind and solar power, but could “cloud power” also be a viable method of energy generation?
Andrew Kazantsev believes so, and he and his team are working on what they claim will “make green and cheap energy available” to the world.
The design is part airship, part fog/cloud collector, and part hydroelectric plant, and is dubbed an Air HES (air hydroelectric station). The device would essentially harvest water from clouds, and send it down to a hydro power plant on the ground, yielding both clean water (for drinking, irrigation, etc.) and clean electricity.
The aerostat, or tethered balloon, lifts the cloud/fog collection mesh to the optimal altitude for the current atmospheric conditions, where it can gather atmospheric moisture through condensation, or liquid water from clouds. The water then travels down to a small reservoir, where it collects until a constant flow can be sent down to the ground, where the water pressure powers a turbine, producing electricity.
All three basic technologies (fog/cloud collectors, hydroelectric generators, and airships) are proven to be effective individually, but combining all three into a single working system has yet to be done. According to Air HES, they’ve done the feasibility studies, and have built a prototype, which was able to collect “around 4 liters of water per hour for each square meter of mesh at 4,000 feet”, but a complete Air HES system needs to be set up in order to fully test the concept.
However, the team is now working toward building a fully functional prototype of the entire system, and one that is scaled up to a size large enough to produce significant amounts of water and electricity, which would effectively be proof of concept for further development.
To raise the funds to do so, they’ve launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, which aims to attract $14,000 in pledges for building a working prototype. Once the prototype is operational, the team’s work may attract additional investors in order to advance the development of the Air HES system as part of a viable business. Additional iterations of the system could be developed for specific applications, such as a kite-based version for an emergency drinking water solution, further down the road.
According to the campaign page, the Air HES could offer a number of other advantages, including the potential to be mobile and be deployed as needed (for drinking water, for example), the small physical footprint of the system on the surface of the Earth, and the possibility of using the aerostats to also host components of a communications network.