Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Controled electric energy extraction from clouds

  1. Jul 14, 2005 #1
    When someone mentions exploatation of an electric (electrostatic) energy from clouds one would instantaneously imagine a gigantic capacitor (or some other sort of an "acumulator" for such energy) and a loud BANG(!) when thunder strikes it and polirizes it all at once; but isn't it possible to somehow create some sort of a specific "electrode" that would drain only the wanted amounts of electric energy from the clouds in a safe way, and leave the rest in clouds??

    Further more - someone might say that there are no clouds all the time, but ionosphere is much more constant - isn't it? Can ionosphere be exploated in a similar manner? (Sounds formiliar? (...)) Can ionised particles be affected by some electromagnetic field in such a way that you asign them a frequency, and you put a reciever (a "bait") anywhere else in range which runs on same frequency, so it resonates and allows the electricity tu jump toward receiver?
    (or is it just some nice old science fiction? does this have any sense at all?)

    So what do You say?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 14, 2005 #2
    A thunderstorm can certainly drive a current, but the real problem is making this current steady. I wonder if thunderstorms have predictable variations in voltage that could be compensated for by a variable resistor to produce a reasonably steady current.

    The second of your ideas only transfers energy (useful form at point A to useful form at point B) where as your first idea would "generate" energy (unuseable form at A to useful form at B).

    When you say "assign them a frequency" you mean "dump all the energy in" and then the energy is transported to the resonant reciever. The ionosphere contributes nothing (other then static charge, which in this case would not even need to be replenished. This could be set up in a lab.)

    It would be very nice to be able to transport energy without electrical wires. Fortunately, our universe comes built in with the ultimate solution (from the makers of electricity...) electromagnetic radiation! So we all know wireless transport will use waves, resonance, etc. But the real difficulty is a practical one, and the answer will almost certainly involve LASER.
  4. Jul 17, 2005 #3
    The main idea is to exploit electric energy from the nature itself in its primar form in the amounts needed for use at the moment (nature produce it - we just pick it down).
    (no solar cells, no windmills, no powerplants (hydro, thermo, nuclear etc.) any kind of 'energy transformers' - just an electrode sticking up high into the sky, somehow taking just the right amounts of current (filtering the raw electrostatic charge, exploiting difference in el.pontentials between Earth and the upper layers of the atmosphere))
    Maybe I strayed from the main idea by mentioning the frequency assignment to the ionosphere, but: it doesn't matter - any way to exploit its el.potentail serves the sole purpose of it all (never mind - you still use wires, but imagine every town having its tower which generates enough electricity for the whole of it at all times - no high-voltage powerlines - you just plant a 'central power tower', and the town grows around it!)

    This with laser is another story. It's a great way to power things, but also, I think it's the only way to comunicate efficently across great distances.
  5. Nov 7, 2005 #4
    So, what's the final verdict?
    Controled electric energy extraction from clouds in desired quantities for instantaneous use (using some electrode that variably blocks the rest of electricity) - possible or not?
  6. Nov 7, 2005 #5


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Well, first, the device you are after is called a lightning rod. Lightning rods don't just attract lightning, but they also act as dissipators of local electrical energy, actually preventing lightning. Unfortunately, there isn't enough energy in lightning and it isn't in a usable form for it to be a viable power source.
  7. Nov 8, 2005 #6
    There is more energy in all the water falling down.

    So an alternative impossible plan would be to install a large-area funnel a few km above the earth's surface, and use the water current to generate electricity.
  8. Nov 8, 2005 #7


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Interesting thought. Lets say you could build a funnel 1km high, with a width 1sq km of area at it's top (which would be quite an engineering feat in itself. A nice, steady rain of 1cm per hour would produce about 28 megawatts (someone check my math...). In Hawaii, that might be useful, as you probably get that much rain for an hour once a day, but the feasibility of a structure like that is questionable.
  9. Nov 8, 2005 #8


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    We already have funnel-like collectors all over the place. They're called 'rivers'. :tongue:
  10. May 6, 2008 #9
    hii ...friend..
    i'am a new person to this world..
    i would like to give an idea of how to utilize the high energy coming from lightning and thus meet our energy requirment..
  11. May 6, 2008 #10
    hii ...
    i would like to give an idea of how to utilize the high energy coming from lightning and thus meet our energy requirment in our future where bioenergy sources such as petroleum will never meet the required needs..
    We know that very high amount of energy [or very high voltage] is needed to electrolise water to give out hydrogen and oxygen,by utilising the high voltage of a lightning we could do that. This hydrogen and oxygen thus obtained can be used in fuel cells..our future energy cells..which has no problem regarding pollution.Thus more useful results can be obtained.
    and this can be done seasonally only.As season changes from country to country..but atleast once in a year season exists in a country.thus giving each country economical benefit of its own.
    Last edited: May 6, 2008
  12. May 12, 2008 #11
    I give you the conductor "the end of the pipe" w/ a fresh bolt of L coming out. how are you going to convert that voltage into stored H ? What if I delivered 27 doses of L randomly in a 27 min. window, could you store all that energy (or most of it) ?
  13. May 13, 2008 #12
    i didnt get u..If the L represents lightning..nascent hydrogen formed due to electrolysis of water can be caught in some compounds using certain elements,which can be done easily since nascent hydrogen is very reactive...The 27 doses of L randomly coming in 27 minutes can be stored by using a water current passing through the electrode and also using a reactive compound as a gas ,which reduces nascent hydrogen to a substance insoluble in water..
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Controled electric energy extraction from clouds