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Power from Ionized air

  1. Apr 29, 2004 #1
    Hello, I was just thinking up this radical idea for getting electricity but I have a question concerning ionized air. If one were to use something like a static discharge to ionize the air around a spark gap, could one possibly draw off the free electrons from the air molecules? or by some other means? My basic idea is to create a machine that can turn air into electricity by harnessing the electrons from ionized air... is this even remotely possible?

    Jason O
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 29, 2004 #2
    You may know that Ben Franklin invented a simple electrostatic motor. This idea was revived in the seventies and people developed improved electrostatic motors that had more power than Franklin's.

    Because there are always clouds of ions floating around in the air, they were able to run these motors by simply erecting short towers, about thirty feet high, that had sharp points on top to collect charges. The other terminal of the motors was grounded.

    There are two problems. None of these motors had much power (torque) and the electrostatic energy that is floating around in the air is unreliable. It is constantly fluctuating in intensity.

    Also, during thunderstorms the towers turn into lightning rods.

    Now, if you intentionally ionize the air you can gather and use the ions, but there is no gain at all since you had to expend energy to ionize them in the first place. You don't get more energy from them then you put in.

    Collecting charges from the air is "free" in the sense you are taping into an energy source which is already there and not something you have to convert from something else. However, as I said, it is not much, it is unreliable, and it didn't seem to hold enough promise to be worth the effort of say, harvesting wind or solar power.

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    Last edited: Apr 29, 2004
  4. Apr 29, 2004 #3
    Thank you for the information you provided me. I see your point about not really gaining much from forcing ions out of the atmosphere... but if I could devise a mechanism to efficiency utilize the air's natural tendency to move to areas of low pressure and essentially 'suck' itself into my device, I think that would significantly increase the output of power. Yes, I have heard of using antennas and things to gather power passively, from the sky, but the motor/converter/generator (whatever you want to call it) that I am thinking about making looks a bit like a jet engine almost. The idea is still half-baked in my mind since I'm still doing research into the concepts behind how it works, but the basic idea is to let the ionized air suck more air into the engine as it is ionized. (This is actually another question I have too). When you zap air with a spark and ionize it, does more air come in to replace it? If this is even vaguely true then the concept I'm thinking of will work quite well (I think). :rolleyes:
  5. Apr 30, 2004 #4
    To Jdo300

    As to your last question;

    "When you zap air with a spark and ionize it, does more air come in to replace it?"

    not exactly... lightning as i understand it, is in fact a natural "zapping" of air with a spark which follows a trail of otherwise produced ionized air. The "crack" one hears is the current flow event which heats (and rapidly expands) the air along the bolt. The "boom" is the sound of the heated air collapsing back on itself as it cools. Thus no "new" air is introduced as a result of the spark... IMHO :)
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2004
  6. Apr 30, 2004 #5
    A lightning bolt is too brief an event for such an effect to occur, but air being entrained into a stream of ions is a real phenomenon that is the basis for a couple of practical devices, most notable electrostatic air cleaners.

    It won't work like you want with only one charged terminal, however. You'd need a positive and negative. Again, this isn't any kind of "free" energy, though. It is probably kind of an energy expensive way of moving air.

    A great book on all practical aspects of electrostatics (as opposed to theoretical) is Electrostatics by A.D. Moore. The second edition was put out in paperback in 1997 and should still be available in some electronics stores or from Amazon. Well worth it if you like electrostatic phenomena.

    Try googling ion wind, also.
  7. May 3, 2004 #6
  8. May 3, 2004 #7
    Hmmm. According to this site, the cause of thunder is still a point of controversy, and thermal expansion or collapse of the air may have nothing to do with it. Rather, complex electrodynamic forces are the main suspects:

    The cause of thunder
  9. Apr 9, 2009 #8
    Hello zoobyshoe,

    Can you corroborate your claim above with the help of some available documents. I want the text/links which proves your point.

  10. Apr 10, 2009 #9


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    Science Advisor

    Get an elementary school science textbook and look up 'conservation of energy'.
  11. Apr 1, 2011 #10
    This post is very old and the answer back then was no. But now it is 2011 and the answer to this question is yes.

    That exact process has yet to be revealed but it has everything to do with ionization. The amount of electricity that can be generated is limited only by today's components.

    It is my understanding that the 'process' will be disclosed this summer.

    The man's name is Tariel Kapanadze. His video's can be found here. Some of you, if not all of you, will not believe this and dismiss it as a fake. But by years end you will see that you mis-understand the Law of Conservation.

    Video links:

    3Kw unit AKA The green box:

    5Kw unit AKA The Plexi-glass box:

    100Kw Unit (3rd party tested)

    Here is the inverters original unit, self runs a generator:

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  12. Apr 1, 2011 #11


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    Staff: Mentor

    Funny how all free energy methods always claim their processes will be disclosed at a later point in time...someone lock this thread please.
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