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Treehugger: A New Spin on Climate Engineering Print E-mail
Sunday, 03 January 2010 23:10

A New Spin on Climate Engineering

by April Streeter, Gothenburg, Sweden on 01. 3.10
Science & Technology

Photo of a water vortex by Renzo Ferrante @ flickr.

Jay Harman's idea of using spiral dynamics to create spinning, vortex-shaped impellers that serve as heat sinks and buy us time to avert climate changes with a clean energy economy is not new. We've chronicled Harman's biomimicry-inspired inventions before. And geoengineering's promise has yet to be realized in combating warming temperatures. Yet Pax Scientific, a company Harman helped found, is now proposing to carry out a one-year study, says a special issue of Ode, to figure out exactly how much anthropogenic warming might be offset by Harman's brand of atmospheric engineering, and at what cost.

Photo of a sun and cloud vortex by ccgd @ flickr.

Pax Scientific is proposing to carry out a one-year study that would use atmospheric modeling, energy scaling, and modeling of vortices to see if Harman's theory that a vortex impeller could be used to mix the atmosphere, bringing it back into balance, and providing some cooling will work.

Computer modeling had already confirmed, according to Ode, that a 747 aircraft engine could create a vortex that could redistribute energy in a sky space 6 miles by 31 miles.

Of course, there are some unknowns and dangers, the first being how to keep the vortex under some semblance of control, as if it cut loose from its source, it could wreak havoc. Harman proporses setting up a nearby vortex to cancel out the first.

Another problem would be making sure that the technology were controlled by a "trusted" international authority.

Pax plans to publish the results of its study in an open-source scientific journal and provide an overall feasibility assessment of the vortex for climate cooling concept.

Harman is not under the illusion that this is a solution to global warming - the task will still exist to transition to a clean energy economy that gives us the energy we need without the carbon dioxide emissions. However, in a recent podcast on Designing with Nature, he was optmistic and enthusiastic about the application of vortexes and spirals to lots of design questions.

"There's no energy shortage in nature...nature is remarkable at reducing drag and friction...via spiraling...we need to translate that to the industrial world."

Read more on TreeHugger about Harman and geoengineering:
PaxFax: An Effective Spiral Fan
Filmmaker Robert Green on Weather Modification
Geoengineering to Stop Climate Change: The Effective, the Risky and the Useless Outlined in New Research Paper
7 Geoengineering Solutions That Promise to Save Humans From Climate Change