The Big Easy Wind Project was my submission for a design competition to address the issue of flooding in New Orleans. When it comes to wind speed compared with the rest of the United States, Louisiana scores well below average for being an area where wind generators would be a sufficient form of renewable energy. Conversely, history proves that the Gulf region also experiences some of the highest wind speeds on earth from hurricanes for as long as humans have been on the planet. On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina created a surge of water that compromised the city’s levee systems. Hurricanes represent a seasonal renewable energy event we fail to harvest.
It would take about 48 miles of 45 ft. long hi-cube (9 ft - 6 in. tall) shipping containers to make a single level perimeter wall around New Orleans. 48 miles = 253,440 feet. Thus, 253,440 ft / 45 ft = 5,632 hi-cube shipping containers. In bulk, it is reasonable to estimate the price of that many shipping containers to be about $1000 each; it would then cost only about $5.6 million in shipping containers alone (not including labor and other materials). Currently, the levee system protecting New Orleans is made of dirt. Water flowing over the top of the levees simply eroded the interior city-side of the levees. It is estimated that over 250 billion gallons of water made its way into the city; the result of a design failure.
One 45’ hi-cube intermodal shipping container can hold a gross weight of 55,559 lbs. A gallon of water weighs 8.35 lbs. thus one hi-cube shipping container could hold about 6,653 gallons of water. Filled with flood water, the shipping container would make a robust, unerodable building block. A single-level levee of 5,632 hi-cube shipping containers could hold 37,469,696 gallons of water. This water alone, once containerized, could then help establish a Crude Water Network whereby the water could be shipped to a treatment facility making it usable for human consumption. Covering the shipping containers with dirt and planting mangrove trees would also aid in maintaining greater soil integrity to limit erosion.
Wind energy has historically been used for dewatering purposes but legislation against this form of renewable energy has unjustly put it out of favor. My designs explore concepts to take advantage of the abundance of wind during a hurricane as a source of energy with the specific purpose of dewatering via a Crude Water Network.
The wind energy from the hurricane would be stored with kinetic flywheel batteries to create an electrical grid independent of the city’s utilities primarily because downed trees and other hazards contributed not only to the failure of the existing pumps but delayed efforts to restore the pumps.