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

Power From Lightning

  1. Jun 8, 2006 #1
    I Was Wondering If We Could Derive Energy From Lightening Strikes ,when The Sky Is Overcast With Clouds We Have Various Potential Diffrences In The Sky wrt to ground ,so Can We Connect A Conductor Of Some Sort To Convert These Potential Diffrences Into Current , I Once Saw This Crazy Metereologist Guy Sending Up Rocket To Probe Lightening on tv ,he Actually Induced Lightening To Study It [the rocket carried this wire with it and as soon as it reached the clouds a flash occured, that apparently turned this metereologist guy on ]Can We Do This With Some Kind Of Floating balloon sort of a Thing Which Could Connect With A Ground Based Capacitor Or Something Like That ?


    I Know We'd Have To Wait For the lightening to Happen First But Would'nt ,u Know The Central Grid Can Always Use Some Additional Power For cheap {condidering just the helium cost} .
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2006
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 8, 2006 #2

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    This is discussed in many threads (do a search) including this one further down on the GP page: https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=122560

    In short:
    1. Extremely difficult to harness because of the short, high energy pulses and unpredictability.
    2. Not enough power would be generated to matter.
    3. No, we cannot "always use some additional power for free". Free is never free.
     
  4. Jun 12, 2006 #3
    I have some thoughts on this. This is my idea, but I'm not sure if it is feasible.

    A super-capacitor is built. One plate of the capacitor is charged to a value about equal to a typical lightning bolt. The other plate is attached to a conductor that runs up to the top of a 2000 ft. mast (masts of this height have been built). Once a lightning bolt has struck the tower both sides of the capacitor have a charge. The lighting charged plate is then moved over to another uncharged plate, and power is drained off of it. Mean while, a second uncharged plate is moved over the human charged plate so that multiple plates can be charged off a single bad storm.

    Is this in anyway practical? I imagine it would be hard to pull those two charges plates apart.


    EDIT:

    Actually, now that I think about it, this scheme would cause dielectric break down - even if the dielectric is a couple of miles think.

    ...Although, if there is enough surface area on the capacitor, then it might be possible to drop the voltage enough to prevent dielectric breakdown.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2006
  5. Jun 12, 2006 #4

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    2,000 foot mast? Do you even need to ask if that is practical?
     
  6. Jun 12, 2006 #5
    There's plenty of energy kicking around guys. The stuff is indestructible. Well it isn't stuff, it's just a property of stuff, with no real existence of its own but that's by the by. The problem is storing it economically.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?