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Ivanpah thermal-solar plant: accidental weather modification or...?

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posted on Mar, 8 2014 @ 11:56 PM
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reply to post by ANNED
 




It only takes a couple degrees temperature increase to start a updraft I have seen thunderstorms form just from brush fires in the desert.

A brush fire is quite a bit more than a couple of degrees though, and spread over a larger area than that of the heat transfer towers. It's also adding a lot of condensation nuclei to the mix.
edit on 3/8/2014 by Phage because: (no reason given)




posted on Mar, 9 2014 @ 01:59 AM
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If the towers get hot enough to strongly re-radiate the heat and create a strong enough convection current to produce a micro-climate, that's wasted energy. Means they should throw some wind turbines around the perimeter and scavenge it to further boost operational efficiency. Environmental effects might be limited in terms of area affected, but may as well make the best of them even if not originally intended.

On a related note, the air isn't being directly heated by the solar mirrors. And yes the tower is. But that tower is what most people would consider a fairly large building. Heat up a thermal mass that large to a couple thousand degrees and go stand next to it and then say the adjacent surrounding air doesn't get hot. Towards the bottom probably not so much since hot air rises, but above it there will be a thermal plume. I think some people don't entirely get the gist of how black body radiators work and might need to brush up on it. It's kinda like the difference between heating up a penny to 600F and a car engine block. Which one are you willing to touch after allowing to cool for 10 minutes?
edit on 9-3-2014 by pauljs75 because: Just adding an extra thought.

edit on 9-3-2014 by pauljs75 because: clarifying the extra thing a bit.



posted on Mar, 9 2014 @ 04:21 PM
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abecedarian
reply to post by luxordelphi
 

Go outside on a bright, summer day with an ambient temperature of around 95F.
What's hotter: the air outside or the asphalt parking lot?

To add, if the ground burns your feet but the air doesn't, which is hotter?


edit on 3/8/2014 by abecedarian because: (no reason given)


I had a thought about what might be causing the dust dervishes and strange winds in the vicinity of the Ivanpah thermal-solar facility. This thought involved differences in air pressure caused by heat.

That the Ivanpah facility generates heat is not disputed. Heat is the major waste product of this facility.

Solar Thermal Technology Poses Challenges for Drought-Stricken California


The drawbacks are that solar thermal plants generate large amounts of waste heat, and they consume a lot of water for cooling, which is usually done by evaporating water.


The facility also, apparently, inputs heat directly into the atmosphere, 40 stories up.

Ivanpah Could Be First Massive U.S. Solar Plant, and the Last


Depending on the conditions, not all the mirrors are aimed at the boiler. These spare mirrors are ordered to focus on a single point in the air near the boiler. It is this concentrated light that sometimes creates a misty gauze around the towers.


And then there are reports of the temperatures surround the 40 story towers:

The $2.2 Billion Bird-Scorching Solar Project


Temperatures around the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System's towers can hit 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Zuma Press



the BrightSource system appears to be scorching birds that fly through the intense heat surrounding the towers, which can reach 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.


So getting back to your post: ambient temperature of 1000 degrees F at 40 stories really has very little to do with urban asphalt temperatures. And while the asphalt last summer in Vegas did get hot enough to burn on contact, the ambient temperature surrounding the asphalt climbed to a max. of 119 degrees F. This is a very different situation to 1000 degrees F in the air surrounding these towers.



posted on Mar, 9 2014 @ 04:38 PM
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reply to post by Phage
 


I see your derail and I'll raise by saying: ambient temperature, 40 stories up, adjacent to the towers, is 1000 degrees F (or, by my calculations, a minimum of 800 degrees F.)



posted on Mar, 9 2014 @ 04:44 PM
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Bedlam

luxordelphi
Whaaat? The same thing that's heating the water is heating the air: the sun. The same focusing onto the water is also focusing onto the air surrounding that water. At 2000 ft. or so (Ivanpah), water is going to boil at 200 or so degrees F. That means that the surrounding air, cooked by accident?, will get up to 800 or so degrees F. There is no way to focus sunlight coming from the mirrors onto a tower without also focusing it on intervening air.


You aren't understanding the cite you linked.

If you apply the same amount of energy to a mass of air and the same mass of liquid water, the air will heat up four times as much, because the specific heat of water is a tad over 4x the specific heat of air.

However, the caveat here is "apply the same amount of energy". The black surface of the boiler will absorb MUCH more energy than the air, joule for joule, because air is nearly transparent to visible light, and the boiler is deliberately designed to absorb as much of it as possible. So while your source is technically correct, it's intentionally misleading. Nothing at all requires the air to be 4x the temperature of the water in the boiler, and in fact, it isn't going to be.


Hey Bedlam! All you've really told me is that the black surface of the boiler is going to be at some outrageous temperature - can't even guess at it if the area surrounding it is at 1000 degrees F.



posted on Mar, 9 2014 @ 04:48 PM
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Bedlam

luxordelphi
I thought we had just established that in order for the water in the steam thing to get hot enough to provide power, the air has to get 4 times as hot. What do birds have to do with that?


Birds absorb a lot more energy from visible light than air does. And in fact, we have established that the air does not have to get 4 times as hot, and usually won't.


But did. So what do you suppose bird temperature was here?



posted on Mar, 9 2014 @ 04:58 PM
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reply to post by ANNED
 


You're right: this plant has more problems than just dust dervishes. Perish the thought of it surviving one of those thousand lightning strike events.

Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System


Lightening storms within 3 miles also required the mirrors to be put back to safe position, as they are huge conductors. Mirrors were struck by lightning occasionally, upon which they exploded with shards of glass spreading a 30-foot radius.


Working within this plant also has its' own perils:


Heat illness training was necessary due to the extreme weather conditions. Special precautions were taken to prevent heat stress such as wearing light weight clothing and long sleeve shirts. Argus crew wore Camelbak packs to keep hydrated with a minimum of 10-minute breaks every hour … with more breaks if the crew needed them. Special safety glasses were worn due to the sun rays reflecting off mirrors.



posted on Mar, 9 2014 @ 05:14 PM
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reply to post by ANNED
 


Wow! Eventually we find out and understand everything. Up to the moment that I read this statement in the link you provided I had been fascinated with this movie. People have told me - it's the music etc. not being able to understand what I found so intriguing. And here it is, on ATS, an answer to a mystery:

Project Solar One and Two (Now Defunct)


During times of high winds, blowing dust is sometimes illuminated by the reflected sunbeams to create an unusual atmospheric phenomenon in the vicinity of the power tower. These beams of light were depicted in several scenes, and a painting, in the 1987 movie Bagdad Cafe, which was filmed nearby.


...changing the subject, it bears looking into why the expense of creating these facilities was just poured down the drain and also why this latest Ivanpah facility is deliberately being painted as a dinosaur even as it opens.



posted on Mar, 9 2014 @ 05:36 PM
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My brother helped build that facility- they paid workers extra for saving turtles found in the work area- hard to believe they'd turn around and destroy the climate after that. I also remember his complaints about the weather there before the project was finished. It was far from the weirdest he ever told me about- he once worked on an Indian casino where rain clouds seemed to go around the site and allow them to keep working- Reverse rain dance jokes for days. But that's micro-climate for you. The mountains and valleys of Southern California channel wind and make storms unload in certain places.

While your idea on the mechanics of how the solar plant would make a difference is interesting I am pretty sure it wouldn't work that way. The air temperature in the general area is not that high at all- only the relatively small surface that accumulates reflected sunlight is heating up that much. Its about the same as having a big parking lot with a really hot piece of machinery in it- you'd have to pay a guy extra to work there in the summer but it's not gonna cook him or start a tornado on top of him.



posted on Mar, 9 2014 @ 06:07 PM
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@luxordelphi-

One thing you're not grasping is that these mirrors aren't multiplying sunlight. All they're doing is taking the sunlight from the area where they lie and reflecting it somewhere else so the net amount of energy, or heat if you will, in the area is the same. Instead of being spread out across hundreds, or thousands of square feet, it's just being directed at the tower. That is all.

And weather in the southwest desert is crazy anyways, well before this power plant was built even. From Death Valley, down throughout the Mojave and Sonoran, it is so. I live in the area.



posted on Mar, 9 2014 @ 06:50 PM
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reply to post by The Vagabond
 


I agree with you insofar as I know that dust dervishes are not exclusive to Ivanpah. And also that if the site, during construction, naturally got up to a temperature of 105 degrees F plus, there would have been special problems associated with working there just because of that.

The first dust dervish I ever encountered was while camped outside Barringer Crater, however, the first dust dervishes I ever encountered in my current neighborhood happened this past summer. I'm just about an hour away from the Ivanpah facility.

Your analogy of a hot piece of machinery in a parking lot is not really the way air masses work. They are ambient. And they're potentially ambient in all directions, looking to equalize air pressure.

Pressure and Wind


Wind

Caused by pressure gradients. Wind is an attempt to equalize the pressure differential. This differential is the result of unequal heating of different portions of the Earth's surface.



Winds start blowing perpendicular to the pressure gradient, but the Coriolis effect deflects the wind to the right in the Northern Hemisphere. Results in a spiral-like effect in which the winds end up blowing parallel to the pressure isobars.


(See diagram in the link for more clarity.)

A dust dervish can be very tiny - like my experience at Barringer Crater. But even though tiny, it tipped over a cup of coffee I had placed on a rock while tending to my dog. Or it can be almost like a wall moving down the street like my experiences this past summer where you have just time to brace yourself before it hits because it will knock you over.

Even NASA/NOAA acknowledge atmospheric micro-systems. (I can't find this link right now but it has to do with figuring average atmospheric temperatures and how there is really, in real life, no such thing.)

Also, although at first I thought that perhaps the plant was built for some other purpose, now I'm leaning toward a poorly thought out plan and looking at the security, extending to the highway, surrounding this plant as a sort of damage control. Damage control to keep people from finding out that it was not well thought out and that a lot of money was spent in order to come to that conclusion.



posted on Mar, 9 2014 @ 07:40 PM
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reply to post by abecedarian
 


Yes...I appreciate what you are saying, however, that is not what I am talking about. I have driven through this area on average 6, 8 or so times a year for a number of years now. The last time was this past Jan./Feb. and the winds there were abnormal even for an area of abnormal weather. I learned later, through a thread on ATS, that this plant had just officially opened right around the time I drove through.

Using the information in that thread as a springboard, I looked into this plant and discovered these huge temperatures. And, perhaps, before I started this thread I should have looked more closely at the schematics for the plant but this would not have changed the alarming temperatures regardless of the mechanics behind how they were generated.

And it is the vast difference in temperatures which, it seemed, might create some of these weird winds. I don't really know if they'd be short lived exclusively or if more ramping up at the facility might produce even stranger weather events.

I am a fan of solar/wind. I have personally owned/operated an exclusively solar/wind dwelling. I have read that wind facilities produce surface heat. I had only two residential size wind turbines and there was not noticeable surface heat produced.

This facility is different in that it produces heat as a major waste product. It is a solar-thermal facility. It doesn't use solar cells but rather uses mirrors to generate steam. To my mind, when you've got 350,000 garage-door size mirrors reflecting the sun, software operated to turn in time with the sun, there is a major hazard offered just by errant beams of light. But here you have a situation that is producing a temperature of 1000 degrees F at a height of 40 stories and that is what I'm wondering about as far as air pressure giving rise to wind.



posted on Mar, 9 2014 @ 08:15 PM
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luxordelphi
Hey Bedlam! All you've really told me is that the black surface of the boiler is going to be at some outrageous temperature - can't even guess at it if the area surrounding it is at 1000 degrees F.


Your source (as execrable as it is) states that the towers reach 1000 degrees F, not the area surrounding them.

That correlates with BrightEnergy's info - the receiver outlet temperature is 1050F.



posted on Mar, 9 2014 @ 10:46 PM
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Bedlam

luxordelphi
Hey Bedlam! All you've really told me is that the black surface of the boiler is going to be at some outrageous temperature - can't even guess at it if the area surrounding it is at 1000 degrees F.


Your source (as execrable as it is) states that the towers reach 1000 degrees F, not the area surrounding them.

That correlates with BrightEnergy's info - the receiver outlet temperature is 1050F.


No, my source is talking about the air surrounding the tower top but here is another source that speaks more vaguely about air space over the mirrors in general:

Wo rld's largest solar plant is open, but its mirrors scorch birds


That’s because the technology the $2.2 billion Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station uses could be a threat to wildlife — it generates heat so intense there’s growing evidence it is scorching birds, according to The Wall Street Journal.



The intense heat the mirrors generate appear to be scorching birds that fly over the area. Temperatures can reach 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.


And there are no reports of birds flying into the black towers although, those in the know, seem to think that the birds are mistaking the mirrors for water and are getting scorched while flying that way.

And you're right, the temperature that the steam is reaching is 1000 degrees F (on the first go around and 900 F on a reheat) although it's not clear what temperature the black thing gets up to.

And, on a lighter note, rumor has it that every night a convoy of diesel trucks rolls in to spray wash the dust off the 350,000 mirrors. Perhaps, if the facility is indeed generating outrageous temperatures outside the box, it can be shut down through non-compliance with diesel emissions - similar to how the HAARP facility was brought to ground.



posted on Mar, 10 2014 @ 02:42 PM
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reply to post by luxordelphi
 


That's my point- an air mass isn't being heated appreciably, surfaces are.

Your new dervishes could be as simple as a new ditch though. Almost all of them that I see occur in school fields and storm drain channels. The topography seems to encourage them in some places.



posted on Mar, 13 2014 @ 12:34 AM
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reply to post by The Vagabond
 


Your post makes a lot of sense.




That's my point- an air mass isn't being heated appreciably, surfaces are.





Your new dervishes could be as simple as a new ditch though. Almost all of them that I see occur in school fields and storm drain channels. The topography seems to encourage them in some places.


I had almost finished folding up my tent when I remembered the haze.

There is a surface - the tower itself - BUT I don't think the surface matters very much except that it is an incredible heat source.

I checked a video from a similar but smaller plant in Spain where the reporter walks among the mirrors without incident. He also ascends to some height in the tower without ill effect BUT does at that point state that he can go no higher without getting fried to a crisp.

Found also an interview with an L.A. Time's reporter who was at Ivanpah the day it opened and got a tour.

Why The Ivanpah Solar Power Facility Only Kind Of Burns Birds, And Other Thoughts


JC: Well, you asked what the field looks like. You could walk through the field, and there’s no heat at all, other than the tremendous heat you have for the Mojave Desert. Unlike PV, which absorbs heat, these things reflect it. And each one is controlled by individual GPS and computers, it’s highly technical, super sophisticated. So all of these mirrors are focused in a place, which is this boiler. Some, however, are in a kind of holding pattern, they don’t need all of that reflective energy all the time. So they focus at a point in space, a safe point, a little reflective halo, that’s what the birds fly through. There’s a vapor steam plume that comes off of these boilers, it’s a thousand degrees and more that this steam is, so they fly through that. There are birds that perceive this field of mirrors as a lake and they try to land on it.


And this following article just for the haze in the 3rd picture down:

Background of Ivanpah solar farm


(closeup of one tower – that white glare to each side of the tower is not just a camera illusion – there really is a white-hot haze next to the 1,000 degree collection point that is visible to the naked eye)


Before a dervish or anything swirling becomes visible because it picks up dust or, in the following case, precipitates, it is invisible - just haze.

Wingtip vortices


As a wing generates lift, it causes a vortex to form at each wingtip, and sometimes also at the tip of each wing flap. These wingtip vortices persist in the atmosphere long after the aircraft has passed. The reduction in pressure and temperature across each vortex can cause water to condense and make the cores of the wingtip vortices visible. This effect is more common on humid days.



A fluid flowing past the surface of a body exerts a force on it. Lift is the component of this force that is perpendicular to the oncoming flow direction.[1] It contrasts with the drag force, which is the component of the surface force parallel to the flow direction. If the fluid is air, the force is called an aerodynamic force.



Vortices form in stirred fluids, including liquids, gases, and plasmas. Some common examples are smoke rings, the whirlpools often seen in the wake of boats and paddles, and the winds surrounding hurricanes, tornadoes and dust devils.



During high-thrust settings the fan blades at the intake of a turbofan engine reach transonic speeds, causing a sudden drop in air pressure. This creates the condensation fog (inside the intake) which is often observed by air travelers during takeoff.


I don't know much about pressure systems in air masses but it seems like this extreme temperature difference, air mass to air mass, would create an instability just by existing.







 
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