This is the invention disclosure as it was presented to my patent attorney so that he would understand everything about how the Solar Vortex Generator came to be, what it is, how it works, and improvements over existing technology. Although the elements of the SVG comprise six patents pending, I consider the Solar Vortex Generator still to be a raw concept and there is much room for improvement. Please keep your comments and criticism constructive, so that we can all learn from you.Improvements over prior art are noted with an asterisk *
Inventor: Earl Senchuk
Invention Name: Solar Vortex Generator (also referred to in this text as SVG)
You tube video of the SOLAR VORTEX GENERATOR
HISTORY: The SVG came about as a result of observations made through the course of designing and manufacturing a patented home hobby greenhouse called the Germinator Series of collapsible greenhouses , and another invention by this inventor called “The FireTent”, as in, a tent for over a fire. (See photos A and B)
Photo A: The Germinette, the smallest of the Germinator Series of portable greenhouses.
Photo B: The scale model of the FireTent TM
Presented to Anchor Industries, the largest tent manufacturer in the United States, the FireTent was proposed as a potentially marketable product for campers as a means to eliminate concern over a rained out camping trip. The intention was that the tent surface area offered primary protection from inclement weather and that rising heat from a fire through the opening would deflect incoming rain and discharge the smoke. An actual, full scale working prototype was developed by Anchor Industries of Evansville, Indiana and has been in use by this inventor every year since 2002. While in use over the course of that time, observations were noted that led to the development of the SVG. Photo of the full scale prototype to follow (see Photo C)
Photo C: The full scale FireTent Prototype in use at Muskellunge Lake State Park Campground in Michigan
Besides the usual discharge of smoke, wind gusts happened at times, and spectacular vortices of sparks seemed to be sucked out of the opening at the top rather quickly. I called a friend over to witness a phenomenon of violent action on the trees 20 feet above that seemed extraordinary for a spent fire of coals. He said, "Looks like a bunch of squirrels having a fight." This inventor later presumed that the effect was caused by infrared radiation from the coals of a large and longstanding fire, reflected off the white internal surface of the tent onto the darker ground thereby increasing an updraft of heated air causing the leaves of the trees above to shake abnormally.
While burning some large, spent fabric tubes at a bonfire gathering, I noticed that, with one end of a tube in the fire, and thick white smoke coming out the other end, and lighting that smoke with a match, produced a blue flame the intensity of which could be controlled by elevation. At this time, convection, and its potential for creating energy was realized.
Here is evidence of the effect of convection in dramatic fashion using a 600 pound hollow log while on a camping trip.
PURPOSE OF THE SOLAR VORTEX GENERATOR: To guide the linear aspect of rising hot air into a helical aspect such as to establish a sustainable and manageable vortex constricted upwards by means of a generally conical shaped structure with intent to perpendicularly impact the full surface of fixed-position blades of a turbine situated within the hollow of the vortex as a means to generate electrical energy. Secondarily, to scrub the air of pollutants and CO2 by chemical or other means by using the large volume of heated air coming in contact with a lot of surface area.
DESCRIPTION: An eccentrically positioned cone shaped structure having a tall stack that is elevated above an extended, downwardly sloped translucent surface constructed upon a subsurface perimeter, and having stacked, internal, centrally positioned rotatable vanes and concentrically, and equally spaced internal air deflectors located under and within the second step of the cone perimeter. An iris, similar in operation to a camera lens, sits atop the stack to control outflow. Pivotal air flow gate restrictors are positioned within the portals created by the vortex actuators. (See diagram A)
Diagram A: The Solar Vortex Generator Parts Overview
To follow is the submission statement for the SVG to the $200 million GE Ecomagination Challenge in 2010. All that anyone ever got to see was the description of the invention by the inventor in 50 words or less.
The Solar Vortex Generator ended up 156th out of 4000 ideas submitted worldwide. The inventor's submission had to fit one of three categories:
How to create electrical energy
How to improve the grid.
How to improve energy efficiency.
THE PRINCIPLE of the SVG, HOW IT ALL WORKS:
With a high surface area to volume ratio, air is heated as a result of greenhouse effect by means of a largely extended passive solar collection area made of a transparent membrane of glass or plastic which surrounds, and is attached to, the second stage of the cone perimeter.
SOLAR VORTEX GENERATOR
The sunlight passes through the membrane and is absorbed by a dark ground surface which raises the internal air temperature above that of the outside ambient air.
Dark Surfaces absorb more sunlight
As air heats up, it becomes more buoyant. Think of a hot air balloon. The greater the temperature differential between the inside air and the ambient outside air, the greater becomes the buoyancy force, and the faster the balloon rises. This gap-of-heat principle works at night as well, just at a lower level on the thermometer.
Desert air entering the solar collector on a 90 degree F sunny day can get as high as 190 degrees F by the time the air reaches the vortex actuators. Here's what happens:
Time spent under the solar canopy increases heat causing the air to rise even faster as it gets higher.
The upward inclination of the slope enhances that air speed.
As the heated air gets hotter and faster as it rises, fresh air coming in from below is constantly pushing from behind.
The chimney creates “stack or chimney effect,” a suction that pulls the heated air up from below which further increases the velocity of the rising heated air.
Ideally, to maintain a smooth flow, the speed of the wind is balanced between the push from the solar collector below and the draw from the chimney above. In between is the vortex generator.
The ability to create man-made wind at 33 mph (15m/sec) by use of convection has already been accomplished.
Then the air changes direction
When the wind reaches the second step of the cone perimeter, it then passes through the vortex actuators, which are deflectors that cause the air to move angularly into the base of the cone.
Scale model showing how air is channeled into the vortex arena
As the air enters the vortex arena, Vortex Actuators deflect all of the air into the base of a cone to start the vortex. The photo to follow shows what a single Vortex Actuator looks like up close.
A single deflector. Multiples of these serve as a vortex actuators.
All air heated throughout the solar collection perimeter rises continuously toward the highest point and into the second stage of the cone perimeter where the deflectors that make up the vortex actuators channel the air upwards smoothly and comfortably into the base of a cone.
Each deflector is curved and fitted to the base of the cone perimeter specifically such that it causes air to move upward, left or right, so as to hug the inside base of the cone perimeter and combine the air flow to that of an adjacent deflector to create a vortex.
Kind of like a baseball pitcher throwing an underhanded curve ball upwards
16 portals, each arc is 22.5 degrees (changed since)
This is the engine part of the Solar Vortex Generator which sits on the top of the hill.
The combined input of 3/4 perimeter air is deemed sufficient to create a sustainable and maintainable vortex. Here's what the SVG looks like in an overhead view.
*A 90 degree perimeter arc on the North side is removed to serve accessibility, cost, and efficiency.
*The Angle of Inclination:
The angle of inclination varies around the clamshell shape so as to increase velocity of wind and maximize light penetration at various times during the day. The sun goes through more atmosphere at morning and dusk, so shape is important to capturing the most from the least. The greater the inclination, the faster the heated air moves upward toward the vortex generator.
*The core element (the engine) of the SVG sits atop a sloped hill that is created by a shallow outline excavation of a generally flat plain in a perimeter shape closely resembling that of a scallop shell. Set in the center is a large capacity, well insulated tank designed so that when re-buried with the excavated sand from within the clamshell shape it will offer below ground protection from desert wind and a hill with the slope necessary for a given latitude. The desert sand is neither added nor removed, only redistributed.
*The SVG discloses an angle of slope that is perpendicular to the angle of incident light at a given time of day and at a given latitude at the peak of the summer solstice when electricity demand is highest. The more direct the light penetration, the less reflectivity, and hence the greater the amount of heat generated.
*During the winter solstice, when the sun is lower to the horizon, solar cells covering the affected surface of the cone come into play by serving to bolster the output of the SVG with another source of clean electrical energy.
*The clamshell shape is critical to the improvement of light penetration by limiting reflectivity.
Since the north side of a greenhouse serves little to no purpose, why build something there if its not going to contribute to energy production? This leaves the north side of the SVG open for accessibility. Not shown in the above photo, below the cone is a portal of entry to where workers and equipment can be transported up into the vortex arena where repairs can be made, even while the vortex is active.
Chimney effect creates a suction from the top.
*The cone and chimney:
Critical to successful operation of the SVG is the ability for part of the chimney, and the entire cone to limit heat loss. The proposed stack or chimney, and cone, involves the interlocking connection of lightweight, insulation filled, geometric core composite panels. The stack diameter and height is consistent with the maximum output potential of the solar collection area.
The optimum height of the stack, coupled to solar collection capability is dictated by the tallest and biggest permitted by feasibility balanced against intended yield of electricity. Size matters. Following research, standardization of size would lead to rapid reproducibility and fewer stock keeping units (sku's).
Performance, especially at night, relies upon the ability of the cone and part of the chimney to retain heat. A vortex is maintained as long as the outflow of air from the stack remains positive, and not necessarily, hot. The insulation rating of the chimney or stack diminishes with stack height to ensure cooling of the heated air as it approaches the top of the stack while still allowing positive discharge that is compatible with the environment, especially considering the combined effect if a cluster of SVG’s were implemented.
Vortex sustainability and manageability is accomplished by various means:
A constant flow of exit and entry air.
Optimum stack diameter.
Optimum stack height.
Adjustable closure at the top of the stack
Adjustable closure means at the entry portals to the vortex actuators.
Constant and reliable insolation by day.
Heat energy stored by day and released at night.
*How to control the efficiency of the Solar Vortex Generator:
Atop the stack sits an iris that operates kind of like a camera lens, only curved like a vegetable steamer. The opening is adjustable in a manner such as to maintain control over the discharge of air as temperatures vary throughout the day. Secondly, the iris is used to optimize turbine generator speed and vortex thickness, and as one of two means to shut down the system if need be.
To balance input of heated air against output control by the iris, rotatable gates within the portals created by the vortex actuators serve as choke, or flapper valves commonly seen on older automobile carburetors.
Based on research data to detemine trend lines, computer software can be written to balance the air intake choke (flapper) valves with the iris, so that the vortex can be shut off completely if necessary or managed to maintain optimum efficiency.
The turbine consists of a generator motor with three extensions each 120 degrees apart with slightly curved, paddle-like blades mounted to the distal ends of extensions. The shape and size of the blade, as well as the distance from center, is consistent with the level of mounting position within the cone of the SVG.
The blades get smaller in size as they are mounted lower due to the added advantage of leverage afforded by the length.
At the internal base of the cone is where the vortex air impacts the first of a number of flat or slightly curved blades angled to meet with the vortex air perpendicularly, and with little to slight impact. Air flow speed is always the same in the SVG. The blades simply go along with the flow. The paddle-like blades connect to a stacked series of generators pivotal on a common, centrally positioned, vertical shaft.
The fact that there is no turbulence allows the vortex to continue turning additional turbines in the same path.
*The SVG alters the direction of the wind so as to impact the paddle-like turbine blades perpendicularly and with greater efficiency. One hundred percent of the man-made air created is used to impact 100% of the turbine blade surface, 100% of the time. The SVG is a steady-as-you-go attitude and does not require high wind velocity. *The chimney does not need to be exceedingly tall.
HOW DOES THE SOLAR VORTEX GENERATOR WORK AT NIGHT?
*The Heat Storage System:
Outside the solar collection area, adjacent to the SVG, lays an array of flat black, rubber-like bladders or oblong shaped metal tanks filled with water, all on a black surface, and all contained inside a separate greenhouse that has little to no ventilation.
Specially designed, low volume to high surface area greenhouse, all black underneath, renders 200+ degrees
The black surface absorbs the suns rays during the daylight hours and heats the water inside. Before dusk, in a timely fashion to take advantage at the optimal moment, after the thermal mass of the asphalt of the black surface has rendered its last reserves of stored heat energy, the water in the bladders or tanks is pumped to a large, underground, pre-evacuated, well insulated tank buried within the hill under the SVG. The amount of water in the black bladders is consistent with the amount of water capable of being stored in the underground tank. The reason for evacuation is to limit contact of the cooler air inside the tank with the incoming heated water.
*The volume of water in the bladders matches the capacity of an insulated tank buried under the hill.
*Constrictor bands spaced an appropriate distance apart create high points between the bands where there is sure to occur an air bubble.
The air bubble that will develop at the high point is removed by means of a *float ball check valve that ensures full contact between the inside lining of the bladder and the water so as to take full advantage of the transfer of solar energy.
*Radiators, akin to baseboard heaters used in homes, are mounted inside and under the transparent solar collection canopy, above the black surface.
As daylight passes to darkness, and the asphalt has rendered its heat energy, the water stored inside the insulated tank begins to cycle through the radiators giving off the stored heat energy of the water over the course of the dark hours. By morning, the water is pumped back outside to refill the black bladders. The cycle repeats itself each day.
Through the course of the dark hours, the buoyancy force due to the wide temperature differential is maintained within the SVG by means of balancing heat energy stored in the water with the considerable drop in temperature that is normal in a desert at night. The heat energy will diminish through the night. Research will reveal the effective amount of time the stored heat energy will sustain a vortex after dark.
Protection from blowing sand in a desert:
Of legitimate concern, is that saltation of desert sand might get into the recessed perimeter of the SVG, or get up into the asphalt to lighten the blackness over time requiring labor to correct.
Pop-up deflectors are the last line of defense to prevent sand from getting onto or into a Solar Vortex Generator. If sand gets into the SVG air entry perimeter it could lighten the blackness of the asphalt requiring labor to correct. If sand gets onto the solar collector, it can block sunlight, again requiring labor to remove. Fortunately, massive dust storms like you see on The Weather Channel are rare. Most of the time, saltation, or blowing sand, is close to the surface and can be blocked without totally blocking the wind.
The best way to counter the problem is to prevent the sand from ever reaching the point of being a problem. The solution came in a design for a “Blowing sand/snow Arrester TM.”
"Blowing Sand/Snow Arrester TM"
The sand arrester prototype utilizes two parallel rows of angle iron, offset from each other, facing in opposite directions, and tilted toward the windward side and also the weighted side of the base frame.
As sand blows into the arrester, the sand is split up by the 45 degree angle of the leading row to be captured by the reverse pocket created by the 90 degree angle of the offset second row.
Here's how the Blowing Snow and Sand Arrester works in steps.