Mats Lindqvist is looking for funding for a pre-study analysis:
To create clouds and make rain in drought areas using solar energy.
Donations will be refunded if the funding goal is not reached.
Solar updraft towers have already been tested and proven, for the purpose of generating electricity. Quite a bit of research has been published on this topic. In this research, an often mentioned side-effect of these towers, or "solar chimneys" is that when humid air is lifted to a high altitude, daytime clouds are formed and potentially also rain.
Investigating the possibility of using a solar chimney to create clouds and rain is my key focus, and I am asking for donations to help fund this project.
This project (phase one) will investigate if it is possible to create an enhanced thermal column, daytime cumulus clouds and rain in an otherwise dry, hot and sunny area, such as southern Spain, Southern France, Morocco, Arabian Peninsula. Santa Barbara area of California, USA.
Simulation of solar updraft tower.
The concept to be analysed is a solar updraft tower built in a location with suitable geography and topography. Solar updraft towers have been successfully proven for the purpose of generating electrical power. (Manzanares, Spain) . They have also been proposed (ref 1-3), but never(?) tested, for the purpose of generating daytime cumulus clouds and rain.
Analyses (Ref 2) suggest that a solar updraft tower built in an arbitrary dry location ("desert") will have to be very high for it to be effective. For the purpose of electrical power generation, tower heights of 1000 m have been mentioned for a 200 MW electrical power tower. (See for example ref 2).
Cape Horn Engineering Ltd.
Having looked at specialist engineering firms and experts in CFD-simulation and weather modelling, I am delighted to announce the collaboration with Dr.-Ing. Rodrigo Azcueta, Managing Director of Cape Horn Engineering Ltd, a leading consultancy company, based in the UK, with clients all over the world. Cape Horn Engineering Ltd, have extensive experience in CFD analysis, aerodynamics, renewable energy structures and weather modelling and will validate the project idea through analysis and computer simulation.
The key objective is to build the updraft tower in a topographically/geographically suitable location. This would be on a south-facing mountainside, near the coastline, in or near a region where more clouds/rain is desirable. By doing this, clouds & rain can potentially be generated with a much lower tower, at a lower cost.
If this investigation indicates that this is feasible with a more moderate tower height, a phase 2 project will be created to build an updraft tower in a suitable location. Aside from southern Spain, suitable locations can be southern California/Santa Barbara, several locations around the Mediterranean sea, Agadir, Morocco, Oman (Arabian peninsula).
Why support this project?
This project aims to mitigate climate change and drought in hot, dry areas like Southern Spain, Santa Barbara, California, and Provence, France. If you live in southern Spain, own property or a farming business, or have a general concern about climate change, drought, or access to water, you might want to back this project.
The project will not generate a direct financial return on investment itself. The reward will be an improvement of the difficult water situation in such areas. All backers will have full access to the knowledge developed, documented in technical reports, analyses, concept drawings etc.
Some dire projections suggest that because of climate change, places like southern California might become uninhabitable in the future. This project aims at preventing this from happening, through improving the water situation and mitigating high temperatures through formation of daytime cumulus clouds.
The project has two phases, we are only seeking funding for the first phase. In this first phase we will validate the project idea through analysis and computer simulation. Should this analysis indicate that the idea is not feasible, the project will be abandoned at that stage. If the simulation shows a promising outcome, a second round of funding will be asked for, to build an updraft tower at a suitable location.
I am a Chief Engineer at FLSmidth & Co A/S in Denmark. I have a PhD in mechanical engineering, I studied cone crushers for crushing rock. I am a Specialist in FEA, Rigid body Mechanics, 3D-CAD modelling, Creo (formerly known as "Pro/ENGINEER",) Creo Simulate ("Pro/MECHANICA,") MatLab,
Materials knowledge: Specifically iron & steel, heat & surface treatment.
Specialties: Specialist on macro-economy, energy, peak oil, environmental issues and monetary theory. Author of a newsletter on energy & economy, lecturer on peak oil and the global economy.
More details can be found here: www.linkedin.com/in/mats-lindqvist
I live in Sweden with my wife and two young sons.
Why am I doing this?
I'm driven by curiosity and solving problems through engineering. I do not expect any profit for myself. For the first phase (concept validation), I have expertise in managing and assign the simulation task to an appropriate specialist (weather modeling, CFD analysis). For this, I will charge nothing for myself, and I expect no return other than the knowledge generated by the project.
For the second phase - should the simulation point to a promising outcome - I will set up a second project to build a tower in a suitable location. For this second phase, a project manager will be appointed (and funded), to take this project to completion.
Why southern Spain? Southern California? South of France?
These regions have potential for the proposed technology. So many people in these regions have already experienced droughts, water shortages and forest fires with their own eyes and will have a personal interest in drought mitigation and climate change mitigation.
What does the science say?
Most research on solar updraft towers has been made with a focus on electrical power generation. Here, water condensation - even inside the chimney - and subsequently above the chimney as clouds/rain to the surrounding environment - is described as an adverse effect (ref 2), as it can negatively impact the amount of electrical power that can be harvested.
Abstract of Ref 3: "The amount of potable water produced by this modified solar chimney power plant is remarkable and might be able to benefit to several millions of people."
Ref 2 indicates that condensation can already occur inside the chimney: "The end result of in chimney-condensations is likely to be liquid water falling to ground level at the base of the chimney."
In addition to rain, a solar updraft tower's cumulus clouds formed during the daytime reflect incident solar radiation and contribute to a lower ground temperature, thereby relieving high daytime temperatures. At night, such clouds disappear, allowing long wavelength heat radiation toward the cold night sky. In short, daytime cumulus clouds act as "blinds" for the earth - they reflect sunlight during the day, and they disappear at night which helps cool the earth's surface.
How will the funds be used?
The funds will be used to pay Cape Horn Endingeering to set up and run weather+CFD simulations, similar to as shown here: https://youtu.be/TJpLBb5lR74
For this pre-study, it is estimated about 4-6 months of work for a consultant to set up a simulation model, explore different scenarios etc.
Here is a plentiful source of information on a variant of the solar updraft tower, the "atmospheric vortex engine": http://vortexengine.ca/
(1) Yongjia Wu, Tingzhen Ming, Renaud de Richter, Rüdiger Höffer, Hans-Jürgen Niemann, Large-scale freshwater generation from the humid air using the modified solar chimney, Renewable Energy, Volume 146, 2020, Pages 1325-1336, ISSN 0960-1481,
(2) VanRekenTM,NenesA.Cloud formation in the plumes of solar chimney power generation facilities: a modeling study. JSol Energy Eng 2009;1
(3) Tingzhen Ming, Tingrui Gong, Renaud K. de Richter, Wei Liu, Atit Koonsrisuk, Freshwater generation from a solar chimney power plant, Energy Conversion and Management, Volume 113,2016, Pages 189-200, ISSN 0196-8904,
(4) Xinping Zhou, Jiakuan Yang, Reccab M. Ochieng, Xiangmei Li, Bo Xiao, Numerical investigation of a plume from a power generating solar chimney in an atmospheric cross flow,
Atmospheric Research, Volume 91, Issue 1, 2009, Pages 26-35, ISSN 0169-8095
(5) Schlaich, J., Bergermann, R., Schiel, W., and Weinrebe, G., 2005, “Design of Commercial Solar Updraft Tower Systems – Utilization of Solar Induced Convective Flows for Power Generation,” ASME J. Solar Energy Eng., 127(1), pp. 117-124.
Risks and challenges
Phase one is a pre-study, there are no risks. Backers will not receive any monetary return on investment but will have access to the knowledge generated by the project.
An obvious challenge for phase 2 (the construction of a solar uplift tower) is to get legal approval to build it in a location found to be suitable.
A challenge in Southern California is that it is an earthquake-prone area. This has to be considered at the design stage, if built in this location. Considering the number of high buildings in California that do conform with local building standards, this is a manageable risk.