Volcanoes pose a threat to populations living in their vicinity, yet also have the potential to provide huge amounts of geothermal energy. A new design, known as the VolcanElectric Mask aims to deal with both of these issues; during periods of relative inactivity the technology harnesses the geothermal power of the volcano to generate clean electricity, and during eruptions it works to minimise damage and destruction.
The project was initially invented by Chinese engineers for use at the Popocatepetl Volcano, located 70km south of Mexico City, and one of the ten most active in the world. With over 500,000 people living in towns and villages local to the volcano the devastation that a large eruption could cause could be severe, but at the same time the volcano could provide enough energy to meet the needs of all local residents.
The VolcanElectric Mask takes the form a giant dome which covers the volcano. Hanging down from inside of the dome are screw-like tentacles which are drilled into the earth covering the volcano to monitor temperatures, help to predict eruptions, absorb CO2 and convert it into dry ice, and produce electricity by using the natural heat of the lava below to turn trapped rainwater into steam which can then drive a turbine.
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When an eruption is predicted the dome completely closes up in order to contain any lava and tephra that may be spewed out. The dry ice created and stored by the tentacles is then released to protect the inside of the dome from damage, and help cool the lava more rapidly.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com
James Burgess studied Business Management at the University of Nottingham. He has worked in property development, chartered surveying, marketing, law, and accounts. He has also…