How to increase the electrical output of a nuclear generating plant by 20% --Louis Michaud's invention

by David Delaney,  September 30, 2004

Nuclear generating plants operate at a thermal efficiency of about 33%.  A plant that generates one gigawatt of electrical power discards waste heat to the environment at a rate of two gigawatts.   If 10% of the waste heat could be turned into electric power,  yielding  0.2 gigawatt of additional electrical power, the total electrical power output of the plant would rise by 20%.

There has always been a very serious obstacle to converting any of  the waste heat into electrical power.  You need a heat engine to do it--an engine that allows a working fluid to expand and cool while doing work. The efficiency of a heat engine depends on the difference between the temperature of the working fluid at the input to the engine and at the output after it has been allowed to expand and work.   The greater this temperature difference, the more work energy you can get out a given input of heat energy into the engine. The problem with the waste heat from a nuclear plant is that, although it's pretty warm in human terms, its about as cool as it can be and still be rejected efficiently to the local environment of the plant.  You cannot get any more work out of it without making it a lot cooler, and there's no efficient source of coolth near the plant to cool the output end of a heat engine enough to get more work (electricity) out of that waste heat.

Louis Michaud saw where to get the necessary coolth--5000 to 10000 meters up in the atmosphere where it is very cold all the time.  He saw that if you replaced a conventional cooling tower by a chimney several thousands meters high  (say five times higher than the tallest building in the world)  the powerful draft up that chimney could be made to turn turbines to generate electrical power.  He calculated that the work that could be extracted from that draft would be about 10% of the waste heat going into the bottom of the chimney.

But the really clever part is his chimney.  Michaud knew that a tornado would make an airy substitute for an expensive and probably unbuildable solid chimney. As the air of a tornado spins and rises, almost all of its energy goes to raising the air it contains and to creating havoc (work) at ground level.  There is almost no loss to friction with the surrounding air or to turbulent processes inside the tornado above ground level.  The rapid spinning of the air in the walls of the tornado is laminar and almost frictionless.  A tornado is an efficient,  inexpensive, chimney. Michaud devised a way to produce an artificial tornado, a tame tornado,  with the waste heat from a nuclear plant.   Air rushing into the bottom of the tornado turns turbines that produce electricity equivalent to 10% of the waste heat energy that creates the tornado.

See Louis Marc Michaud's US patent application, Atmospheric vortex engine, application number 20040112055, [also attached to this node]

Why should we believe that Louis Michaud is not just another crackpot inventor?  Well, because he's both an engineer and a  reputed meteorological scientist, although an amateur one. Michaud's day job is as a process engineer in an oil refinery.  He's done that for thirty years.  But in the evenings and on the weekends he writes papers on how to calculate the attributes of tornados and hurricanes. He's also done that for thirty years, and has produced a long string of papers in refereed meteorological journals.  He's an amateur meteorologist only in the sense that he's not paid to be one.  See his publication list at

Wouldn't permanent tornados dotted around the countryside pose a hazard to aviation? Certainly, but a time is approaching when the inconvenience of  that hazard may be much less than the inconvenience of insufficient electricity.
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