“The Big Easy Wind Project”
This is a concept I submitted for a design competition sponsored by the Buckminster Fuller Institute.
Upon reading Peter Lewis’ activism on repealing marijuana prohibition, I’m hoping someone like him could help to make my concept a reality.
Note: one thing I failed to do was to put in some numbers about the pricing and quantity of shipping containers themselves…
It would take about 48 miles of 45 ft. long High Cube (9 ft - 6 in. tall) shipping containers to make a perimeter wall around New Orleans.
48 miles = 253,440 ft.
253,440 ft / 45 ft = 5,632 45 ft. long High Cube shipping containers
In bulk, it is reasonable to estimate the price of that many shipping containers to be about $1000 each, thus it would cost about $5.6 million in shipping containers alone (not including labor and other materials).
Storm surge easily represents the greatest hazard ever posed by a hurricane. It is this water which provides the most loss of life and does the most damage as it is being driven by the circulating storm wind. In the last 107 years, at least 25 hurricanes have struck Louisiana. Over a dozen of which had speeds over 100 mph. On August 29, 2005, the latest tragic character, Hurricane Katrina, debuted with the strength of a Category 3 hurricane on Louisiana’s eastern region. A mere 30 minutes
after landfall, rainwater combined with the surge began “overtopping” the levees throughout the city producing their catastrophic erosion. This resulted in 250 billion gallons of water flooding New Orleans claiming over 1400 lives inundating 80% of the city. A few flooded pump stations compromised the drainage system and proved no match for the ensuing surge. As these systems failed, the city was left vulnerable to immeasurable water damage.
80,000 businesses and over 160,000 homes were damaged by flooding from Katrina and a month later by Hurricane Rita. This scenario is repeated the world over for countries that lie in the path of recurring hurricanes and typhoons. The Big Easy Wind Project (TBEWP) seeks first to reduce the threat of storm surge by augmenting a levee system with a means of evacuating water through the use of the abundant wind energy provided by the storm itself.
Thus far, over $100 billion of Federal money has been poured into New Orleans and surrounding areas as a means only of recovery and represents the tip of the iceberg in what is truly necessary. By managing the threat of storm surge, the after effects of debris and contaminated water with the likes of disease and chemicals are also managed. The resources required to clean-up from storm surge after the fact is currently greater than the means of preventing the water damage. Commonly after a major storm, a city’s electrical resources are disrupted from failures in power distribution. However, road blockages due to debris or water only add to the problem of proper drainage.
The lifecycle of planet Earth’s ecosystems rely on the sun evaporating water. As the water condenses in the Troposphere, it falls back to Earth. This process produces the very hurricanes that will continue to threaten the livelihood of people who live in the path of tropical cyclone systems. As the birth place of jazz, The Big Easy can be a model for its preservation using instruments of the wind.
For TBEWP to be fully successful there must be an alliance to implement devices that harness hurricane-force winds as a means of evacuating the accompanying surge. Utilizing this extreme energy to remove any surge water would be a more timely solution as opposed to using disrupted grid electricity afterwards. If there were less inhibition regarding the use of wind energy as a renewable organic resource, it would be more likely we would have evolved the technological capability of maximizing the energy of a hurricane. Especially considering that historically, wind energy has been used to pump water. However, as we became more dependent on foreign oil, the domestic use of wind energy and other forms of alternative energy declined. Along with it, the pace of innovation slowed. Typical commercial grade wind generators can only effectively harness wind at speeds between 14 mph and 40 mph. Tropical Storms, the most frequent form of storm energy to affect Louisiana and surrounding coastal regions, will have wind speeds greater than 39 mph which may also be combined with lightning and / or tornadoes. A Category 5 hurricane will produce the most extreme carpeting effect with speeds over 150 mph. Typically, after every storm, the sun provides an abundant source of free energy.
The proposed conceptual wind generator would utilize mag-lev technology as a means of rotating blades moved by the wind and would eliminate the need of a restrictive rotor shaft. This technology has a proven track record of propelling magnetically levitated trains to near supersonic speeds unachievable with conventional combustion engines. As traditional wind generators maximize their output by the span of the blades, hurricane generators would rely on the speed of the wind. The output of one hurricane generator could then match the output of multiple conventional commercial grade megawatt wind generators. It should be expected that perhaps all of the electricity generated from a hurricane wouldn’t be utilized right away. Existing technology is available to store a quantity of electrical energy in the form of batteries. A flywheel generator, on the other hand, requires no toxic, hazardous chemicals to store its electricity.
As a means of evacuating storm surge water, an additional crude water network would have to be established. For example, the Sewerage and Drainage board of New Orleans has a capacity of 29 billion gallons of water a day. Lacking interruption, it would take 8.62 days to pump 250 billion gallons of water without the assistance of water flowing back to its source. Evacuated storm water could be routed to in-ground reservoirs with capacities matching that of crude oil tanker ships. It will be here that the water would be properly treated, stored, and distributed locally as potable water. Left untreated, this crude water could be shipped to global destinations for treatment abroad. The reservoirs would also have the added capacity of being an abundant source of algae for use as a biofuel.
Lastly, shipping containers would form the structural building blocks for levees surrounding Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River. To protect the soil surrounding the shipping containers, Mangrove and Cypress trees would aid in maintaining soil integrity. Solar power after the storm would assist with remaining water drainage and recovered debris would be an environmentally friendly source of electricity by means of plasma arc gasification.
The notion for funding an extreme wind energy project as a significant renewable resource is likely to require an equal measure of justice for manifestation. It is this reason that one less law against hemp and marijuana would create an annual source of revenue in excess of $10 Billion due to money saved by minimized law enforcement to be invested towards The Big Easy Wind Project.
The Louisiana Department of Revenue is responsible for generating funds for state projects through taxation, gambling, alcohol and tobacco (both made from plants). An additional department for regulating hemp for industrial use and marijuana for recreational use would be implemented and responsible for licensing. The first 420 licenses sold at $42,000 would generate $17,640,000. If America’s population over 18 (225,633,342) donated $4.20 towards TBEWP, $947,660,036.40 would be raised as potential revenue. The reasons for hemp and marijuana’s criminalization without scientific evidence 70 years ago are mired in racism, ignorance, intimidation, and even portrayed the lifestyle of jazz musicians as a cause of marijuana addiction. In reality, hurricanes have killed more people than those who recreationally use marijuana, yet a vast amount of resources is spent keeping a non-lethal plant illegal and should be properly invested as hurricane protection. The agricultural, environmental, and transportation benefits in hemp oil alone would favor Louisiana which has the second largest refining capacity in America. A reduction in the demand for foreign oil would generate additional savings while also boosting the American economy with the addition of hemp as a tradable commodity. As hemp would be in demand for fuel, food prices should fall and corn could be returned to the dinner table.
More conventional methods of financing TBEWP include the Statewide Flood Control Program in Louisiana. It has the purpose of reducing existing flood damages by providing guidance and public funds to build flood control infrastructure. This program may provide up to 90% of construction costs. Nationally, the standard cost-share for water related projects are 65% Federal and 45% local. State incentives exist for jobs created by TBEWP and would also be eligible for Federal incentives in the form of tax credits.
I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Industrial Design in May of 2001 from Virginia Tech. One thing I’ve learned is that the future is here and I’m living in it. I once dreamed of robots and now read about them racing in the desert, with a little help from the military. What we can achieve with technology is a wonderful thing. There are two robots, still living, on Mars to prove this. But these accomplishments would not have been possible without the military which has assumed the responsibility of manifesting hard work into our liberties to become a part of everyone’s lives as a result, with or without one’s acknowledgment of their existence. When it comes to New Orleans, life saving from hurricanes and flood damage is largely on the shoulders of the Army Corps of Engineers. The time has come to give THEM the tools and resources needed to do their job.
Let us dream about saving cities like New Orleans. With union, extreme justice, and steadfast confidence, The Big Easy Wind Project can become a reality on Earth and beyond.
© 2007, 2011 Jerry D. Elmore