This is a model of a generator being developed by the Georgia Institute of Technology that looks to take advantage of natural air movements in hot areas. When the sun’s heat hits the ground, a layer of hot air forms at ground level. If that ground-level air is hotter than the air above, it can create upwardly moving whirlwind. In nature, this columnar vortex phenomenon creates “dust devils,” or spinning whirlwinds that lift dirt off the ground. In the device, hot air rises through the turbine, generating electricity.
The Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy funds R&D in energy technologies that are too early for private funders to pick up. It’s funded hundreds of projects since it was first funded in 2009 in areas including carbon capture and storage, power electronics, and solar power.
ARPA-E recently hosted its annual summit near Washington, DC, where researchers have the chance to show off their latest work. Here is a sample of some of the most intriguing projects on display.