Salient White Elephant

April 24, 2009

Super Honkin’ Counter-Rotating Water Cooler Cones

Tangential velocity is a function of radius. The radius of the vertex of a cone is zero, so this shows that if you get an empty paper cone from the water cooler and roll it across your desk, it will roll around in a circle. This is kind of nice, since a cone seems very close to the ideal flow accelerator. So if we put the vertices of two cones together, so that the open ends of the cones point in opposite directions, then roll the cones, their vertices will stay together, and the cones will “yaw” all the way around through a 360 degree arc and end up back where they started. So we roll the cones around so that one opens up in the direction of the wind and the other opens up in the downwind direction, put a HAWT rotor right in the middle of the two vertices, and we have a very powerful wind machine with all the important components at ground level. The only problem is that the cones smash all the corn in the field as they yaw around. But this is easy to fix. Just fit the mouths of the cones with a rim and the vertices with a rim, then separate the cones by the appropriate distance. The following diagram illustrates the general idea (it’s a terrible drawing… but I’m in a hurry):

Super Honkin' Counter-Rotating Water Cooler Cones

So now if we have two concrete roads, the cones can roll around and not smash all the corn in the field. Interestingly, it seems these shapes might be perfect for rolling around on top of a dome – like an enclosed baseball stadium or something like that.


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