Michaud and his company, AVEtec, are building a prototype of its Atmospheric Vortex Engine to create tornadoes about 40 meters high that can produce energy from waste heat.
The energy would be free of carbon emissions, and would only cost 3 cents per kilowatt hour. As a reference, coal can cost anywhere from 4 to 5 cents per kwh.
The money specifically comes from Thiel's Breakout Labs program, which gives small grants to early-stage companies pursuing scientific ideas.
Michaud intends to have an operational model complete by Summer 2013.
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