New device concept promises free fuel, electricity, water.
A new device concept, dubbed the Hydro Medusa, raises the intriguing possibility of extracting water, electricity, and fuel from a tethered device floating in the low atmosphere.
Use of mist nets to extract water from air, even in desert areas, is an established technique. This water can be electrolyzed, using solar energy panels, to produce hydrogen.
The hydrogen can be used to maintain a spherical balloon-like structure about 1 kilometre up in the sky, and connected to the ground by pipes, acting as a tether. Excess hydrogen can be exported to the ground for use as fuel, and excess water can be harvested.
A little of the solar energy from panels on the Hydro Medusa would be needed to keep the hydrogen content of the device topped up, but there should be plenty over to send down to the ground as electricity.
Further electricity would be generated from wind turbines on the device, and at a height of 1 kilometre, the device would also be ideal for television, internet, and mobile phone communications — it would have line-of-sight reach over a circle about 180 km wide.
Excess water coming down the pipe, with a pressure head of 1000 metres, could also drive a hydro-electric turbine. It might also be possible to tap the electric charge in clouds.
Because the device would function on its own inputs from the surrounding atmosphere, it could potentially be of use in isolated sites distant from heavily-populated areas.
More details of the Hydro Medusa are available on the AOI site, at http://www.aoi.com.au/devices/Hydro-Medusa/index.htm.