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Take Me to the River

This article was originally published as Take Me to the River at on April 6.  Can't seem to load the soundtrack that should accompany reading here at SA.

Vortex Power: if fish use it to swim upstream, why oh why can't we? Let's dream a little Dream, here!

Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you
Sweet dreams that leave all worries behind you
But in your dreams whatever they be
Dream a little dream of me

Take Me to the River    


As regular readers of RD know, TLaCour and ReverseEngineer often butt heads, at odds over everything: what are the facts, what is important to focus on, basic political and existential philosophies.  However, our Raging Debate revealed that we do have common ground:  besides fine Brussel Sprouts, we agree on our CRITICAL need to develop better energy collection and distribution systems with an eye toward DECENTRALIZED ENERGY.  We collaborated on this article with that need in mind. 

Unknown Object     

Take me to the River, drop me in the water

Take me to the River, drop me in the water, water


RE mentioned one such system in the Ghost Towns thread, the VIVACE system for low velocity vortex induced hydro power.  VIVACE is an acronym for Vortex Induced Vibration Aquatic Clean Energy.  It is based on the same hydrodynamic principal fish use to swim upstream against stiff currents, rapids and lesser falls.  If fish can use it, why O why can't we?  As detailed below, it offers solutions to a host of issues that make old tech Dams so problematic.  This new tech needs testing and scaling, something even the rabid anti-Statist TLaCour would be willing to pony up tax money to facilitate.   

The City of Dallas spent half a billion to build a hotel, but a 10-megawatt VIVACE setup should run on the order of $10 million if costs are inline with those for another Vortex Device discussed at the Pure Energy Systems Wiki Vortex Directory, the Zotloterer Gravitational Vortex Power Plant (pictured at right; the test cases ran $1/watt for initial construction, but are essentially maintenenance-free). The wimpy slow Trinity river that runs through Dallas would be a fine test case. 

Don't know why I love you like I do
All the trouble you put me through
Take my money, mess with my nets,
Haven't seen a fish back here yet

Generally speaking, to access Hydro power, our technology scaled the old water-wheel principal to convert the water's kinetic energy into mechanical (and later electrical) energy.  This led to massive Dams of rivers, creating high vertical drops that accelerate the water flow sufficiently to drive large turbines.  Advantages:  power-source and increased fresh water supplies.  Disadvantages:  fish disappear, it's an extremely capital intensive project to build such a hydro plant, and all sorts of unintended consequences result from the restructuring of a given neighborhood’s hydrodynamics.  

For instance, all the silt that used to make the Nile Valley so fertile is now held behind the Aswan Dam.  The reservoir is slowly losing capacity as it silts up, and Mediterranean fishing has dropped off since the nutrients in that silt are cut off.  The no-longer replenished soil of the Delta is on the verge of seawater inundation and already has become nearly infertile, while further upriver the soil is becoming salinated without fresh coats of silt.  Furthermore, the increased amount of standing water from irrigation is a breeding ground for snails carrying the parasite bilharzia, in Egypt the second worst parasite after malaria.

I wanna know, won't you tell me,
I'd really love to stay!
Take me to the River, drop me in the water
Take me to the River, dip me in the water,
washing me down, washing me down


When you dam up rivers, first off you flood a lot of the neighborhood behind the dam.  This is usually inhabited area, because being near a river is the kind of location towns are built on.  According to the International Energy Agency, water power now accounts for 16 percent of the world's electrical generation - a figure that could theoretically be tripled with Dams, as Asia now uses only 7% of its potential.  The massive Three Gorges Dam just completed in China will displace 1.5 million people.  Besides displacing inhabitants, the Aswan Dam in Egypt precipitated an international uproar over the impending flood; a consortium of nations scrambled to disassemble and relocate two dozen ancient monuments, and some were given the treasures in return.  That's how the 2000 year-old Temple of Dendur ended up in the NY Met.  The river provides a means for commerce, and a source of food (fish) superior to those from farms, but dams block boat-transport and many fish have gone missing because of large dams.  It provides a source of fresh water, and it also acts as a sewer washing all the sewage from your community downstream to the next town down the line. LOL.  Not going to treat the Sewage problem in this post, just the energy aspect.



  Don't know why you treat me so bad
  Think of all the things that we might have had
  Love is an ocean that I can't forget
  Sweet sixteen I'll never regret

   I wanna know, please tell me,
   I really want to stay.

  Take me to the River, drop me in the water
  Take me to the River, drop me in the water


Rivers and streams are ubiquitous across America.  Moreover, along coastal areas where the tide runs, low velocity water flows copiously in and out of estuaries and harbors every day.  A very substantial portion of the population of most countries including our own are concentrated along the coastlines (in the U.S., 53% live within 50 miles of the shorelines).  So if you are going to locally generate your power, it's advantageous to be able to do it on the coast using the low velocity movement of water through the tidal cycle, which occurs every day as a result of the gravitational influence of the Moon on the Earth.  Including tidal sources would vastly increase the potential electricity generation over what Dams can provide.


Unfortunately of course with prior Hydro technologies, accessing the massive power which pulls tons of water to and fro in a tidal basin has been an unmanageable problem.  To even build a dam across  a natural harbor with a sufficient tidal flow and height change to drive large turbines is not something that has ever been undertaken anywhere that I am aware of, for the obvious reason that the scale of such a thing and expense of doing it would dwarf even the Hoover Dam.


Hold me, squeeze me,
Love me, tease me,
'til I can't, 'til I can't, I can't take no more
Take me to the water, drop me in the River

Push me in the water, drop me in the River
washing me down

VIVACE makes it possible to access the VAST amount of energy that is released every day through the flow of water downhill and the movement of tides in the ocean and in the Great Lakes.  The technology as described is capable of generating power from water flow as slow as 2.3 MPH. Horizontal rods connected to magnets in a coil bob up and down by vortex action, creating current with every bob.

Moreover, it appears to be scalable down to small projects such as the stream beside your house as well as perhaps harnessing the power of the Mighty Mississippi without having to dam the river up. 

Can you IMAGINE the power that would be generated if you laid VIVACE arrays down on the bed of the Mighty Mississippi from St Louis to New Orleans?  I haven't calculated how many Gigawatts of power that would produce, but the VIVACE folks project around a megawatt of power from just 90 cubic feet of low velocity water flow. 

That's an array using an area at the river bottom a mere 3' high, 3' wide and 10' long providing electricity sufficient for 1000 people at current American usage rates.

Even if it's output was 1/10th of that, the flow down the Mighty Mississippi is measured in millions of cubic feet per minute along the big stretches from Minneapolis on down the line there.  Why rely only on Nukes or Oil here with that much power available for Harvest?  Maybe there will be some environmental consequences from laying down these arrays, maybe they will be hard to maintain, I don’t know.  However, you don’t have to do it all at once either, the beauty here is this is so SCALABLE.  I could imagine a VIVACE package you could buy at a Big Box store that you drop in the stream behind your house.  24/7, this package delivers power to charge up your EV, run your lights etc.  Of course you would have to be living on property adjacent to such a stream to have your own little VIVACE power plant running, but most small towns are on streams or rivers because of the fresh water and sewage aspects mentioned earlier, so getting a Cooperative together shouldn’t be that difficult.

Can this sort of Hydro Power alone meet our energy needs in the future?  Probably not by itself.  Storage technology (Battery, Flywheel, etc.) needs to be improved to make the power more Portable, but we need those improvements anyway to render Solar and Wind more widely useful energy sources.  For current Battery tech, dependence on mining for metals (see Rare Earth Metals Not So Rare and Battery Wars) like Nickel, Cadmium, Lithium and Lanthanum, and the ecological costs involved (see THE DIRTY SECRETS OF GREEN), places limitations on how well we can distribute portable power overall. 

However, it does NOT seem necessary here that the Lights go Out just because the resource of Oil is growing thin.  Step by step, we can replace our dependency on this commodity with what Nature provides every day in tidal movement of water and the downhill flow of water that gets recycled by Convection every day.  Water Evaporates, it Rises as Water Vapor, it condenses and falls SOMEWHERE every day.  All you have to do somewhere along the line in this process is CAPTURE the kinetic energy of water as it moves from high places to low places.  It doesn't usually fall that fast, only in a few selected places does it fall fast enough to drive large turbines, and building the Big Dam is a daunting project which can be undermined with the first Earthquake in the neighborhood, not to mention making an attractive Big Target for Bad Guys.  VIVACE power is Decentralized, DISTRIBUTED power, and even if one location fails, the next one down the line is still up and running.

Together with Solar, Wind and even Micro Nuke Power, it's possible to develop a power array for every small community they can afford. If you are going to go ahead and print money willy nilly anyhow, how about printing a bit to build and test some Vivace systems, eventually all over this country if it pans out.  IMAGINE how many Jobs will be created by such a project!  You won’t need the Dole, people will be WORKING to build in our country a SUSTAINABLE FUTURE.

We don’t NEED no stinkin' OIL nor the Pigmen here and in foreign countries who slurp away at our necks from our reliance on it.  The power is THERE for the Harvesting.  It is there everyday in the Flow of Water down the River.  Let’s get PRODUCTIVE here.  Let’s BUILD something that our children and grandchildren will be GRATEFUL for.  Americans WANT to work on a project that will benefit Mankind for as long as the Sun burns brightly in our Sky.


We CAN do this. We MUST do this.  We must once again LEAD.  The Fate of Civilization hangs in the balance.

Disclosure: No positions