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You are here: > News > Oct. 27, 2005

New Major Energy Modality
Touted as: The future of large scale electricity generation.

Deriving Power from Atmospheric Pressure Differences over Geographically-Spaced Sites

New method of power generation will harness the difference in atmospheric pressure between locations 100 to 200 miles apart, with reliability comparable to coal, nuclear, gas, and hydro, but at a cost substantially lower, and with no pollution.

    "This is the first alternative energy technology to come along that has a reliability factor adequate to actually serve as a 'core' generating technology, and not just as a back up or supplement to the grid."

-- John R. Crocker, COO
Cold Energy, LLC, Oct. 26, 2005

by Sterling D. Allan
Pure Energy Systems News -- Exclusive, Breaking
Copyright © 2005

Weather forecast for Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2005; DOC/NOAA/NWS/NCEP/Hydrometrological Prediction Center

Diagram from Mamo's patent illustrating three conduits over vast distances.  In practice, the distances could be much shorter.

Pipes would convey the air which would travel at supersonic speeds.

Patent 6,696,766

A system for the generation of energy based upon the differences in the atmospheric pressure at geographically spaced apart sites, referred herein as the "Atmospheric Cold Megawatt" energy producing system of the invention (hereinafter "ACM") comprises at least one long conduit, in the order of many miles long, preferably of at least two portions of different internal areas capable of conducting significant amounts of air there through. In operation the air flow in the conduit will accelerate to a high velocity wind without the consumption of any materials and without the use of any mechanical moving parts. A power converter, such as a wind turbine, in the conduit converts the high wind velocity generated by even minute pressure differences into energy of any desired type such as electricity. The opposite open ends of the conduit are located at geographically spaced sites preferably selected on the basis of historical information indicating an historical useful difference in barometric pressure. A plurality of conduits each having open ends in different geographically spaced sites may be interconnected to maximize the existing pressure differences that will assure higher and more consistent levels of energy production.

Anyone who has seen a weather report has seen maps with high pressure systems on one part of the map, marked by a large, bold H; and a low pressure system on another part of the map, marked with a large, bold L.  And there are the isobars – those wavy white lines that lie across the space between the two different pressure zones, indicating wind that flows naturally from the one to the other.

Just think if you could run a pipe between the high and the low area and spin a turbine from the flow of air between the two locations.

Unique Design Gains High-Grade Patent

That is what Cold Energy, LLC, is setting forth to do, and they have a "no prior art" patent to support them.

Rarely is a "no prior art" patent awarded.  Most are "me-too" designs, which don’t really have much that is new to offer, just a tweaking of earlier work.

However, the late
Anthony C. Mamo, co-founder of Cold Energy, LLC, and recipient of 124 high tech patents, was granted such a patent for his Atmospheric Cold Megawatts (ACM)™ system for generating energy from differences in atmospheric pressure.

I was able to interview John R. Crocker, Chief Operations Officer and Managing Partner of Cold Energy, as he sat in a coffee shop in Fort Lauderdale, grabbing a meal.  Ironically, the power is knocked out in his home from Hurricane Wilma.

The scientific modeling Cold Energy has done predicts that this approach of tapping atmospheric pressure differences can yield copious amounts of energy.  The effect is not just from weather differences, but can be seen in elevation differences as well -- like water running down hill.

What about cost?

Crocker said that a ACM plant could be built for about as much as it costs to build a coal plant of the same output capacity, but that the maintenance and operational costs would be far less -- and the fuel cost would be zero, including all associated costs pertaining to fuel: transport, storage, and other overhead -- all zero.  And, there would be no pollution from an ACM plant.  Whereas coal plant-generated electricity usually runs at around 4.5 to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour, the ACM plant would run at less than a penny per kilowatt-hour.

With two to three decades of data from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) at their disposal, the company has ran analyses over a number of different locations, and with the help of interns hopes to have modeling for two to three locations for most countries of the world soon.  "In reviewing that data, we have been pleasantly surprised at how many areas have a consistently adequate atmospheric pressure gradient between two or three places," said Crocker.

Generating a Mighty Wind

For example, studying five years of atmospheric readings from Flagstaff and Tucson, Arizona, with an elevation difference of 3,700 feet, separated by 105 miles, they found the pressure difference to be in the range of 0.5 to 0.7 psi (pounds per square inch) on a daily basis, never going below 0.5 psi.

"That is sufficient to generate a wind of 2,500 mph (miles per hour), which is 3.5 times the speed of sound," Crocker said.

"Having just been in a hurricane with winds of 100 mph, I can tell you that I can hardly fathom the power of wind traveling at such high velocity," Crocker said.

The pipes would be about 2.5 meters in diameter, and the air flow would be enough to generate around 1,000 to 1,400 megawatts of electricity -- enough to power at least 250,000 homes consuming 5 kilowatts on average, which is more than enough to supply the combined populations of 53,000 and 487,000, respectively, in the two Arizona towns mentioned.

[Correction: the test data was between Tucson and Phoenix.]

In flat areas, such as Kansas, where there are no substantial elevation changes even over hundreds of miles, the high-low pressure differential from weather patterns can harness a similar effect in a conduit of around 250 miles in length. And by having two or three such conduits fan out in different directions, the power company can increase the chance that, every day, at least one of those conduits will have enough of a pressure difference between its two ends to produce the energy requirement that the plant is designed to produce.

The conduits are designed to be unidirectional in flow, tapering gradually to a smaller diameter to increase the air flow speed. Hence, in a flatland scenario such as Kansas, there would need to be two pipelines to allow for flow in either direction.

Where change of elevation is built into the landscape, the consistent difference in atmospheric pressure from plain to mountaintop would trump high/low differences of any transient weather-system, virtually every time.

Nature’s Challenges for System Designer

I asked Crocker about the heat that would be generated by air flowing at such high speeds.  He said that the patent addresses this issue, and is part of the brilliance of the system, which has almost no moving parts other than the turbines that harness the energy.

Another related issue is condensation due to very cold winter and mountain temperatures. Mamo designed flaps that would open into the conduit when needed to prevent the build-up of ice. By creating resistance for the rapidly flowing air inside, the flaps would heat up the conduit without needing any other heat source to be applied.

The humidity of the air flowing through the pipes is also apparently an issue that needs to be addressed in the design of a system.  Air that is too dry can be problematic [reason?].  Air that is too humid is too heavy for proper performance.

One might think about animals venturing too close to the intake portal.  Fences and netting will thus need to be an integral part of the design.  As for insects who venture too close, they are in for quite a ride.  A free ride on free energy.

Noise, Regulatory and Legal Issues

In an ideal world, the ACM conduits would be laid down on existing easements such as for gas pipelines, high-power lines, or next to rail lines.

However, this is where things get rather sticky, as science and technology are trumped by politics and competition.  Establishing new easements is mostly out of the question.

Gaining permissions for using existing easements is not easy. "In the U.S. there is a complex patchwork of regulatory bodies, from cities, counties, states, and regional governments", said Crocker.

One might think that a large volume of air going through long conduits at supersonic speeds could get quite noisy.  Crocker said that "Materials science is quite good right now, and a good deal of the noise can be substantially buffered by using the correct materials".  He also points out that "most pipelines won't be built through the center of populated areas, or will run along existing easements." In those cases where the pipelines run through populated areas, Crocker said they can simply be buried 2-3 feet underground, as are water pipelines, and some gas and oil pipelines.

The complication of obtaining clearances in an industrialized society is one of the primary reasons Cold Energy will probably install its first generating conduits in Africa or Asia. If all goes as planned, the first installation could be completed within two to three years of the contract signing, which is presently in negotiation.

There are also smaller-scale applications of the patent concept, such as energy generation in mines from the air gradients there.

"Prominent physicists in two or three American Universities have reviewed the concept and nearly all of them are in love with it," said Crocker.  "This is the real deal."

Business Independence

Crocker says that the company has not yet pushed for media exposure, but they have received a lot of interest from investors.  Some  have even offered to buy out the patent.  "We will never do that," said Crocker.  The company wishes to retain ownership of the patent, and only license out the rights to use the patent.

"I've heard that some alternative technologies have been bought by large energy companies for the purpose of keeping them off the market", said Crocker.  "We will not let that happen."

While he anticipates that there will be a huge opportunity for profit in this business, Crocker says that the company philosophy is more earth-destiny oriented.  "Energy is the biggest issue facing the planet right now, and we have what could be one of the best solutions."

Crocker said that Mamo brought this technology forward as the culmination of his very fruitful career as an inventor. "His specialty was taking very complex engineering problems and make them as simple as possible, with as few moving parts as possible."

"This was Tony Mamo's final gift to mankind."

Cold Energy, LLC was formed to manage the development and implementation of this invention, and its surrounding technology.  With Mamo's passing this last May, his daughter, Therese Schroeder-Sheker, is now picking up where he left off, as CEO and managing partner of the company along with Crocker.

Coming from a strong entrepreneurial background, Schroeder-Sheker has been involved with the company since its inception, and is particularly adept at navigating the interface between academia and the private sector. Having founded and managed several companies, she has been responsible for sales, marketing, finance, and institutional negotiations.

Mr. Crocker has been in involved in several engineering startups. His work in the utility, technology, and finance sectors includes running internet operations in a division of the Pittsburgh energy giant DQE, and more recently as a Managing Director at Merrill Lynch. He brings significant experience in business development, enterprise project management, corporate governance, and international operations to the table.

Also on the team is Dr. Robert W. Johnson, who serves Managing Director of Engineering. His background includes such diverse areas as Inorganic and Analytical Chemistry, Metallurgy, Polymer Physics, Rheology (flow behavior of solids and fluids), and Statistics. He worked closely with Mr. Mamo to insure that the patent application was solidly grounded on proven engineering principles.

Edward R. Hearn, JD has agreed to take on additional responsibilities in the Office of the General Counsel, and will be the senior attorney charged with the monitoring and enforcement of the ACM patent. Mr. Hearn brings a strong background in intellectual property and industrial design law.

# # #


Special thanks to Mary-Sue Haliburton for her editorial input.


  • Email submission by company
  • Phone interview with John R. Crocker, Chief Operations Officer and Managing Partner of Cold Energy, LLC (Oct. 26, 2005)  He read the final draft of this story and made minor corrections which have been incorporated.
  • (19 May 2005)
  • - official company website
  • US Patent #6,696,766 - "Atmospheric cold megawatts (ACM) system TM for generating energy from differences in atmospheric pressure" (PDF) (February 24, 2004)
  • Other patents by Anthony C. Mamo


Cold Energy LLC
P.O. Box 987
Mt. Angel, Oregon 97362
Phone: +1.503.845.2980
Fax: +1.775.218.2591



Prototype using oil pipeline?

Seems to me that tunnels of required size and length already exist. Oil pipelines (drained of course) should show some of the properties proposed. Could they be used to create a proof-of-concept model?

-- Grant Lombard

* * * *


We're actually looking at two or three locations where this might be possible. (John R. Crocker; November 09, 2005)

* * * *

What about pipe resistance?

From: Dunn, James
To: Sterling D. Allan ; Integrity Research Institute, Thomas Valone [see coverage]
Sent: Monday, October 31, 2005 6:15 PM
Subject: FW: [FE_updates] Atmospheric Cold Megawatts, power from water, more

Is it really possible to maintain a .5 psi (1/2 psi) pressure drop over 200 miles thru a pipeline?

Seems somewhat suspect to me. Also the 2500 mile-per-hour wind speed?

Have they tried this?

James Dunn

* * * *

From: Sterling D. Allan
Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005 11:10 AM
To: Dunn, James
Subject: Re: [FE_updates] Atmospheric Cold Megawatts, power from water, more

I would think that there is nearly as much chance of the 0.5 maintaining as there is of water flowing down hill.


* * * *

From: Dunn, James
To: Sterling D. Allan
Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005 9:13 AM
Subject: RE: [FE_updates] Atmospheric Cold Megawatts, power from water, more

I lose nearly that much pressure in just pushing air 2-4 ft. thru my fuel cell!

There is a lot of friction in pipes, as well as lots of "leaks" - Seems hard to believe!

James Dunn

* * * *

(Response Pending)


Q. Why not just go up the side of a mountain?

From: Dunn, James
Sent: Tuesday, November 01, 2005 7:38 PM

I think they may be optimistic to think they will get 1.4 GW from a 8’ diameter pipe, regardless of the air speed.

The real question should be – “Why go to all the trouble of a 200 mile pipe” (which won’t be cheap – probably several hundred million!).

Why not just a short (<1) mile vertical pipe up the side of a mountain, and extract the energy from ‘Thermal gradients’, (as well as the pressure gradients).

This may be far more effective and 1% of the cost, (and much easier to model).

James Dunn

(Response Pending)

See also

Page composed by Sterling D. Allan Oct. 26, 2005
Last updated December 24, 2014





"It is harder to crack a prejudice than an atom." // "I'd rather be an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right." -- Albert Einstein

ADVISORY: With any technology, you take a high risk to invest significant time or money unless (1) independent testing has thoroughly corroborated the technology, (2) the group involved has intellectual rights to the technology, and (3) the group has the ability to make a success of the endeavor.
All truth passes through three stages:
   First, it is ridiculed;
   Second, it is violently opposed; and
   Third, it is accepted as self-evident.

-- Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)

    "When you're one step ahead
of the crowd you're a genius.
When you're two steps ahead,
you're a crackpot."

-- Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, (Feb. 1998)

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