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Lightning generated hydrogen?

  1. Apr 10, 2005 #1

    Pengwuino

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    Man im just throwing out some crazy ideas today :P.

    What is the problems (or my own misperceptions on the ideas) with using lightning for hydrolysis for creating hydrogen? You could have huge water reservoirs and have a lightning rod capture hte lightning and travel through hte water and wouldnt that create hydrogen? I dunno :P just thinken outloud.
     
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  3. Apr 10, 2005 #2

    Ivan Seeking

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    Although this is a very tempting notion, the biggest problem is that the energy from a lightning bolt or two is not really all that large. The power is huge but for a very short time. Very few places on earth if any have enough concentrated energy from lightning to be worth the effort.

    I know that some scientists and engineers are working on lightning arresting systems to protect people and hardware. The most likely thing to work in what I've seen is a strong LASER used to ionize the air and create a path to ground when the local electric potential nears the threshold for a discharge. I assume that these folks know how many controlled strikes per years might be expected for the worlds prime lighting centers such as Gulf Breeze Florida. From this, due to the obvious difficulties with transforming lightning for practical uses, figure that a very small percentage of the total available energy could ever be captured and used; say <10%, as a guess.

    Finally, here is a little information from the Feynman lecture series, which has a nice little discussion on lightning in vol II, sec 9.

    The peak current in a single stroke is about 10,000 amps, with a total of about 20 coulombs of charge delivered per stroke [do the math to calculate the total time]. Most observed events consists of from 1 to 10 separate strokes on the average, with 42 strokes once measured during a single event.

    Worldwide, we measure an average of 1800 amps at 400,000 volts - or 700 Megawatts. There are about 100 strokes per second worldwide.

    Here is the other problem: This happens over about 1/2 of the earth's surface, which leaves us with something in the neighborhood of 10-6 watts/meter2. Now take one to ten percent of that as a realistic average were this captured and used.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2005
  4. Apr 10, 2005 #3

    Pengwuino

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    Pff, back to the drawing boards!
     
  5. Apr 10, 2005 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    :biggrin:

    Never say never, but, yes. :frown:
     
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