Concept Summary

Concept Summary #

A new solution to the problem of Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC) is presented. A tall structure, called a Convective Heat Engine (CHE), is conceptualized that vertically transfers surface heat by means of convection through a column of water. The temperature profile of the atmospheric column when in thermal equilibrium – that is, when no atmospheric convection is occurring– is such that the temperature of the atmosphere decreases with altitude. This temperature profile is conducive to convection in water as water bodies in thermal equilibrium have a temperature profile that INCREASES with altitude. This means that when water is warmed from below, the warm water always rises to the top.

Surface atmospheric heat can be convectively transferred upwards through a water column to some altitude, where it can then be exchanged with the cooler atmosphere at that altitude. This warmed air at altitude is now thermally unstable relative to the surrounding air, and will accordingly rise through convection. Thus, “trapped” surface heat can be transferred vertically in such a way that requires no outside energy input – this is due to the fact that water offers a path of lower resistance to convection. In the Case Study examined in this report, 29GW of surface heat is vented continuously. Thus the direct effect of ACC – surface heating – can be mitigated in a quantifiable manner.

This rising air has the ability to do work, since it is rising upwards in a gravitational field. By containing these convective processes in flue-like enclosures, it is possible for this rising air to draw cool air up behind it, further cooling this air as it rises. Cooling air has a reduced capacity to hold moisture, with precipitation occurring once the air is cooled below its dew point. The flue-like enclosures are linked in a manner which allows for sequential cooling of air parcels, allowing for most of the water vapor to be precipitated out of the rising air parcels. Water condensate is continuously produced in this structure. In the Case Study example, some 417 Mega Liters of water is produced per day. This was for a conservative example where the relative humidity of ambient air was set at 55%. More humid air would produce more water condensate. This water can be recycled back to the environment to stimulate plant growth – which will act to sequester atmospheric CO2. So the CHE can mitigate the cause of ACC by indirectly removing atmospheric CO2 through promoting plant growth by increasing the availability of water for irrigation – especially in arid regions where water is the main constraint. Deserts are relatively free of carbon. Adding water to a desert establishes plant growth which is a clear demonstration of CO2 sequestration.

An additional output of this arrangement is very cold air, which can be utilized for condensing purposes in thermal power generating plants. It is well established that the lower the condensing temperature in thermal power plant, the more efficiently that plant operates. This condensing function is normally performed by cooling towers, whose condensing temperatures are a function of the daily ambient temperature fluctuations. The temperature of the output air of the CHE can be decreased by increasing the number of flue-like enclosures. An example of renewable power generation benefiting from the CHE is presented.

Finally, it is shown that the outer perimeter of the CHE serves as an ideal location for accommodation units, turning the CHE into the ideal sustainable city that produces surplus water and power and vents surface heat – potentially the ideal answer to Anthropogenic Climate Change.

Introduction >