Our chance to stop global warming

Our chance to stop global warming

Away from reducing CO2 emissions and towards reducing global warming: a change in perspective leads to the development on an innovative solution for the problem: an air conditioning for our planet.

Billions of people around the globe watched the world community`s attempt to persuade countries to massively reduce their CO2 emissions at the climate conference in Glasgow. The target was to reach binding agreements to prevent climate change and global warming from getting completely out of hand. However, the conference ended with worldwide disillusionment. Only a few still believe in a realistic chance of achieving the 1.5° climate target. If no immediate and massive action is taken, the earth is more likely to warm up twice as much, with the known catastrophic consequences. As it looks today, the main causers of climate change will probably only act decisively when it is already too late to preserve a world worth living in for our children.

"We are currently developing an idea that offers a completely new perspective on climate change. Our innovation is based on the assumption that the real problem at the moment is not the greenhouse gas emissions. Although these are largely the cause of global warming, they are not initially the major problem for either humans or the planet. On the contrary: without greenhouse gases we would probably be facing a 30 degree drop in temperature on our earth", says Michael Mack, inventor and managing director of HeineMack GmbH in Nuremberg.

Natural greenhouse gases absorb heat and keep it close to the earth's surface. The earth's atmosphere consists - in terms of volume - of approx. 78.1 % nitrogen, 20.9 % oxygen, 0.9 % argon and other noble gases. Greenhouse gases account for less than 0.1 %. The carbon dioxide content is only approx. 0.04 % (mass fraction approx. 0.061 %). Considering these figures, the development of CO2 in the atmosphere of our planet does not seem threatening at first glance. The actual problem of CO2 - at least in its current concentration – is therefore not primarily direct harm to humans through inhalation or the like. Rather, the problem is that the human-induced rise in CO2 is increasingly preventing warm air from the Earth's ground-level zones from rising to higher, colder zones in order to be cooled down.2-Entwicklung in der Atmosphäre unseres Planeten auf den ersten Blick keineswegs bedrohlich. Das eigentliche Problem des CO2 ist – zumindest in der derzeitigen Konzentration – nicht primär ein direkter Schaden für den Menschen durch Einatmen oder Ähnliches. Vielmehr ist es das Problem, dass die vom Menschen verursachte Zunahme des CO2 immer mehr verhindert, dass warme Luft aus den bodennahen Zonen der Erde in höher gelegene, kältere Zonen aufsteigen kann, um dort abgekühlt zu werden.

"From my point of view, the acute problem is global warming and not the increase in greenhouse gases. These are merely the cause of the problem. If global warming could be slowed down or even stopped - even without reducing greenhouse gas emissions - the current situation in the world could be significantly defused and at least time could be gained. This extra time could then be used to reduce greenhouse gases in the medium term and to keep our planet Earth worth living on in the long run," says Mack.

The troposphere is the lowest part of the Earth's atmosphere and reaches up to an altitude of about 12,000 meters. Within the troposphere, the temperature decreases from the earth's surface to the tropopause - the upper limit of the troposphere - from an average of 15 °C to minus 50 °C. The reason for this is that the troposphere is primarily heated from below by the absorption of solar radiation by the Earth's surface. Only to a small extent is the troposphere directly warmed by solar radiation. Most of the solar energy is converted at ground level and released into the atmosphere, which is why it is warmest near the surface. As rising air expands and thus cools down, the air temperature decreases with increasing altitude by an average of approximately 6.5 degrees per kilometer of altitude. The dynamic increase in greenhouse gases and the associated greenhouse effect increasingly prevent warm air from rising from lower levels and cooler air from moving in. Greenhouse gases absorb and bind heat at the lowest layers of the troposphere.

Fig. 1 shows the future: flexible Warm Air Extraction Systems (WAES) may be at-tached to existing buildings. Four WAESs are extended, one is retracted.

Michael Mack has the idea to build a Planetary Air-Conditioning system (PAC). A PAC consists of a worldwide network of Warm Air Extraction Systems (WAES), which transports warm air from lower zones to the highest possible areas of the troposphere in order to cool down. By extracting or transporting warm air away from the earth's surface, cooler air automatically moves in. If a large number of such WAES were built around the globe the result might be a network-linked PAC, the use of which could ideally and interactively be coordinated and regulated in order to control or reduce the temperatures on the Earth's surface. The PAC would thus slow down or even stop the rise in global warming.

Fig. 2: shows an extended and flexible Hot-Air Extraction Tower of a WAES

Mack uses the principle of the chimney effect for his WAES: warm air rises. The higher the chimney and the larger its diameter, the greater the dynamics of the chimney effect and the associated air extraction at the bottom of the chimney. Essentially, therefore, no energy is required to extract the warm air from the surface. One of the major problems arising from this theory is that a chimney built several thousand meters high – in its conventional structure - entails enormous static and structural requirements. Mack wants to solve this problem as follows:

One of several design variants of a WAES is a steel construction which for example may be erected parallel to the wind-protected side of a tall building. The steel structure would be fixed to the ground with adequate foundations and additionally secured to the building. This would allow to additionally stabilize the frame up to the height of the building. Preferably, the steel construction is a good deal higher than the building itself. The maximum possible height of the steel construction must be calculated following the statics of the frame itself and naturally the statical effect of the building it is fixed to. A tubular and Flexible Hot-Air Extraction Tower (FHET) made of high-strength synthetic fibers would run inside the frame. The FHET may then be extended further – in calm weather conditions - beyond the end of the steel frame. In case of high winds/storms the FHET may then be fully or partially retracted. The big advantage: In the event of heavy storms, a permanently installed WAES resp. its anchoring would have to absorb enormous static forces. The Hot-Air Extraction Tower (HET) would act like a sail. The possibility of flexibly retracting and extending the tower greatly reduces the static requirements on the steel structure and the building. The FHET may be threaded onto a vertically installed tube at the bottom of the steel frame. Fold-out elements are attached to the tube at its top end. These elements may be folded inwards adopting a cone shaped form and allowing to retract and thread the FHET onto the tube. The conical shape also reduces the air flow, which in turn facilitates the retraction of the FHET further. Whenever the FHET is extended, the hinged elements of the cone are unfolded and the tube may be extended without reducing the diameter.

The FHET is extended and retracted by the support of winches and wire ropes which are fixed at the upper and lower ends inside the steel frame. During extension and retraction, the FHET is held in place resp. guided by guide elements attached to the steel frame and which also for example may be found in the use of elevators.

Whenever the FHET is to be extended beyond the upper end of the steel frame, this may possibly be accomplished as follows: The FHET is designed with a ring at its upper end, which consequently reduces the diameter of the FHET at the top. Rising warm air presses against this ring generating an uplift force similar to a hot air balloon. In case the pressure of the rising warm air flowing against the ring at the end of the FHET, is not sufficient to allow the tower to rise beyond the end of the steel frame, the opening at the end of the FHET may be reduced. This may be achieved for example by using wire rope hoists. The additional buoyancy force shall support the FHET to rise from the end of the steel frame. The following applies: The higher the FHET is extended in the end, the stronger the chimney effect created and the stronger the air flow generated within the FHET. Whenever the FHET rises beyond the end of the steel frame to any defined height the opening of the FHET at the upper end may be once more be increased to a point at which the air pressure pressing against the remaining reduced end diameter of the FHET is sufficient to keep the FHET at the desired extension height. As the top end of the FHET widens, warm air may flow out and cools down. Once the FHET is extended beyond the steel frame, it may be held in place e.g., by steel cables or extendable rail elements which can automatically be extended and retracted from the upper end of the steel frame. Additional steel cables fixed to the supporting building may provide further support and stabilization for the extended tower.

Fig. 2: shows an extended and flexible Hot-Air Extraction Tower of a WAES

Alternatively, a FHET may also be deployed directly from the base station of the steel frame similar to the operating principle of a hot air balloon. For this purpose, a combustion system would be located under the vertical tube with the threaded FHET. In that way sufficiently hot air will be generated to extend the FHET to the desired height. Once the required height is reached, the combustion system can be switched off and the FHET is kept in place resp. at the desired height following the described principles from above. Following this approach for extension and retraction would further allow for an additional feature. This would include a latch in form of a ball, which would be pressed onto the opening of the FHET and kept in place by wire ropes installed within the inside of the FHET. Rising hot air will then press against the ball, which seals the opening of the FHET. As soon as the wire ropes holding the ball in its position are slacked the ball begins to rise. Further, more and more hot air fills the FHET, which once again and steadily increases its buoyancy forces and finally allows the FHET rise to the desired height. Once the desired height has been reached, the ball at the end of the FHET may be opened and adjusted by means of cable pulls. In that way and by the constant air stream flowing out of the FHET, pressing against the ball the desired height may be controlled. Hot air balloons may ascend up to 10,000 meters. Commercial tours with hot air balloons usually do not exceed 3,000 meters. Insofar, it should also be possible to extend FHETs to 3,000 meters and beyond. Reaching such heights enables a continuous extraction and cooling of large quantities of warm air.

Fig. 3: shows the vertical tube for threading the HET incl. its supporting components, as well as the optional combustion system for extending the flexible HET

It would also be possible to replace the conventional combustion system by the introduction and usage of a large roof surface at the base of the FHET, consisting e.g., of glass or other transparent material, by means of which air may be additionally heated by solar radiation.

WAES may be built not only parallel to buildings, but also as free-standing units, or otherwise may be elevated along mountain contours. WAES may even also be realised above busy roads, for example. In this case, the WAES could be fixed to the surrounding buildings with steel cables, for instance. The advantage of such a WAES above a busy road would include not only the extraction of warm air, but also of smog, exhaust emissions and fine dust particles.

Other areas of application for WAESs could be ordinary house roofs or industrial plants. But even windmills could be constructed in such a way in the future that in addition to its original purpose these would also serve as WAES, dissipating heat from the earth's surface. The same would apply to television towers and similar buildings. Further, it would be very beneficial if existing windmill power plants could be modified. This would lead to quite a high number of already existing and potentially suitable locations for WAEs.

It is not advisable to suck in the air at the lower end of the FHET and directly at ground level, since a strong air flow could cause dangerous situations for people and animals present in that area. In addition, the steel construction in the lower area of a WAES - at least up to the height of the surrounding buildings - could also be replaced by more solid reinforced concrete or similar strong material. The construction serving as foundation for the metal frame work hosting the FHET as described above and which could be extended and retracted depending on the weather conditions. Naturally, this approach would imply no additional FHET within the base construction of the WAES would be required.

In addition, the steel construction in the lower area of a WAES - at least up to the height of the surrounding buildings - could also be replaced by more solid reinforced concrete or similar strong material. The construction serving as foundation for the metal frame work hosting the FHET as described above and which could be extended and retracted depending on the weather conditions. Naturally, this approach would imply no additional FHET within the base construction of the WAES would be required. HETs built with reinforced concrete or similar materials could even also already be considered and integrated during new building construction projects. In that case, rising warm air for example could be used to produce hot water by utilization of recuperators. Further, air-conditioning systems within the building could also be supported by the air flow of the HET by drawing warm air out of the building.

Fig. 3: shows the vertical tube for threading the HET incl. its supporting components, as well as the optional combustion system for extending the flexible HET

A WAES in the form of a FHET may even also be realised as a mobile solution. In this case for example a truck could host the base station with a FHET threaded onto a tube that may be erected to a 90° angle. Following the above-described deployment principles of either combustion systems or solar radiation the FHET could be extended and retracted. During use the FHET would be kept in place and stabilized by steel cables and corresponding weights fixing the cable winches to the ground. Such mobile FHETs could be used in areas with extraordinary heat periods.

The main advantage of PACs in comparison to conventional air-conditioning systems is simply its low energy consumption. Merely the extension and retraction of the FHET requires a small amount of energy. No energy however is required for the ongoing operation of the HET resp. the extended FHET, which means no energy is used for transporting warm air from the earth's surface to higher layers of the troposphere.

"I assume that using our innovative solutions on an internally large scale, global warming may at least be slowed down considerably, if not even brought to standstill. And to be honest, I see this approach as the only real chance to keep the world livable for our children. Unfortunately, we may not rely on reasonably acting leaders and governments, which would be required to reduce CO2 emissions on the short run,” Mack continues.

Michael Mack, HeineMack GmbH in Nuremberg, and RollercoasterRestaurant Entertainment GmbH in Vienna developed the described problem solution and have applied for a patent.

"In order to really be able to slow down global warming in the near future, huge efforts are required - both financially and in terms of engineering. We are open to any kind of support and partnership that will quickly make it possible to slow down global warming and keep our earth livable. Please feel free to contact us at pka@heinemack.de " concludes Michael Mack.