Tornado Generated Electricity
Name: Margaret S.
If scientists know how tornadoes are created and what
conditions are necessary for one to occur, then shouldn't it be possible
for us to create one and then use the energy provided as electricity?
Theoretically, yes. However, the amount of energy
required to produce a thunderstorm that would produce
the rotation characteristics that form a tornado would
far exceed the amount of energy that could be recovered.
Remember that it requires energy to produce phenomena and
since energy is lost through frictional dissipation and
heat transfer, the energy left to recover is less than you
used to create the phenomena. Furthermore, the amount of
energy required to produce a thunderstorm and tornado is
so huge, it is unlikely that man could ever come close to
David R. Cook
Atmospheric Research Section
Environmental Research Division
Argonne National Laboratory
I do not think that scientists know exactly how tornadoes are created, but
even if they do it is such an intense density of energy it would be
difficult to harness it in a controlled way. You can think of it as trying
to harness a dynamite explosion to produce electricity.
The idea of harnessing the natural, but destructive forces of nature to
produce energy for useful purposes is enticing, but that
capability still remains in the future.
We are learning more each year about the conditions necessary for tornado
formation, and we know some of the processes
responsible for initiating tornadic winds, but there is much we don't know
yet. For instance, we cannot precisely predict where all
the conditions necessary to form a tornado will come together, much more
than 20 or 30 minutes in advance.
Tornadic thunderstorms release tremendous amounts of energy...as much
energy as an atomic bomb every minute of their life
span..! At some time in the future we may be able to harvest a portion of
the energy contained in a thunderstorm, but at the
present time, the effort required to do that would be more than the energy
Wendell Bechtold, Meteorologist
Forecaster, National Weather Service
Weather Forecast Office, St. Louis, MO
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Update: June 2012