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darryl
08-27-2014, 02:39 AM
Ok, so first the metalworking part of this- I read some time ago about shooting the end of a wire on a roll into a charged part of the sky to initiate a discharge to ground. The 'strike' would follow the wire to the ground and dissipate. The wire was transformed into vapor without the aid of a lathe or mill. I'm sure that shooting the wire did require some bit of fabricating of a mechanism in the shop-

I was wondering a few days ago if there's been any development in this area. Seems to me that capacitors of the day were inadequate to absorb the charge, but perhaps this has changed with the advent of supercaps, low ESR caps, et al. I read also that the average lightning bolt carries enough charge to run an average household for 2-1/2 months. That might be what- $500 worth of electricity or more?

We got to talking about this when somebody asked me if I'd ever found a spot where lightning hit the ground. I remember seeing the researchers dig up such spots and recover 'fulgarites', which are glassified channels where the intense heat has melted sand into rough 'tubules'.

Somehow storing the energy in a lightning bolt has always intrigued me.

macona
08-27-2014, 03:10 AM
It has been a pipe dream of many forever. And it is just not viable. The power levels are just way higher than anything can really handle.

J Tiers
08-27-2014, 08:02 AM
The POWER levels are high, but the total energy is rather low in proportion to the troubles of dealing with it. And in proportion to the peak.

The bolt is generally of reasonably high amperage, and has a high voltage behind it, but lasts a very short time. The peak to average ratio is enormous.

Old Hat
08-27-2014, 09:00 AM
Yer waiting too long!

Trace the energy in lightning, back thru the ladder of conversions back to the beginning.

I rented an upper flat in about 1976-77, south west corner of a two story 8 unit.
Burnt redish brick construction. Lots of windows facing south. Dark mix of colors in the carpeting.
Left the curtains open, go to work, electric heat turned off, toasty warm when I got home
even in January to February, the coldest winter on record here.

vpt
08-27-2014, 10:08 AM
I always wondered why the lightning bolt couldn't be filtered threw something like water (lake/small pond) to reduce its power in order to send the "charge" to capacitors which can then be used to charge a battery bank.

Or just make the lake/pond THE capacitor, its size is adjustable with a backhoe and a rubber liner.

Old Hat
08-27-2014, 10:14 AM
Much have I seen, and much have I done.
I like lightning just the way it is. And I like it at a safe distance.

I'll go and ponder some other wonder, and leave lightning to you Guys!;)

dp
08-27-2014, 10:28 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning_rocket

It will put your eye out.

CalM
08-27-2014, 12:54 PM
Ok,

Somehow storing the energy in a lightning bolt has always intrigued me.

First, the power in a bolt is hard to comprehend. It may be of short duration, but amps X Volts =Watts, and Watts is what(s) blows stuff up or burns stuff down.
But as important, a lightening strike is not just some random dissipation of electricity from and overhead cloud. It is a balancing of charges between the earth and sky.
Yup! the earth also carries a differential charge that is dissipated during the strike. Lightening rods are not built to carry a lightening strike into the ground so much as they are meant to dissipate the earth's charge UP into the air above before big charge differences can build. In fact, a direct hit on a properly grounded lightening rod, set up on a building, will burn the components every time.
Just as your example of "vaporizing the wire".


All I'm saying is read up on the animal you are interested in. You will find it to be quite the beast!

PS, I've got the third lightening hit tree on my property laying in pieces about 20 yards from the shop. "Blown to smitherines" IT was about 100ft tall, now a 60 foot standing piece with two severed and splintered section at it's base. Shards and splinters spread in a 50 foot radius. Oh! MY!

topct
08-27-2014, 04:23 PM
A bit of similar, or at least a touch of the same,

http://www.smeter.net/w6obb/antenna-farm.php

The Artful Bodger
08-27-2014, 04:33 PM
The voltage gradient in the atmosphere can be several volts per metre as Benjamin Franklin was able to easily demonstrate. His kit was not struck by lightning and he would have seen some voltage even on a day without storms.

The surface of our planet is electron rich and winds are continually 'wiping' electrons from conductive structures leading to a continuous, but tiny, current in all buildings, masts and of course kite strings.

Daveb
08-27-2014, 05:54 PM
All I'm saying is read up on the animal you are interested in. You will find it to be quite the beast!
You really don't want to mess with lightning, it's the gorilla of electricity.
Electric currents up to a few thousand Amps do what we expect, we have the knowledge and tools to handle them safely.
Lightning and gorillas are big enough to do whatever they want, they can make their own rules.

Jim Hubbell
08-27-2014, 08:15 PM
Just supposing. When someone develops a means to extract power from the atmosphere and then many follow suit, will this in some way have undesired effects on the earth? By removing a serious amount of energy the natural balance upset may have unforeseen consequineses

kf2qd
08-27-2014, 10:10 PM
Some years ago Popular Science had an article about making a static electricity motor. Problem is keeping the one feed line in the air to keep the motor running. That and the potential voltages...

boslab
08-28-2014, 01:36 AM
All you need then is some spare body parts from the cemetery, needle thread, Jacobs ladder thing etc, i may be able to send some body parts if you run out, copper is a bugger to turn so maybe brass neck bolts would suffice and the lead bottomed boots can easily be fashioned from old bullets!
I am assuming a re animation project,
Could call him Shopinstien
Mark

Black Forest
08-28-2014, 08:00 AM
Why don't you start out with a somewhat less ambitious project. How about harnessing farts! Yes you read correctly. Just think of all that wasted energy. I am not sure how many BTU's heat from the fart gas happens. Maybe first a study must be made. Build a harness for us to wear that captures the farts. Maybe a car seat with a fart interface for recycling farts.

Gas heat and lights in the shop. I can just hear it now. "Honey we need to eat more beans the shop is starting to get cold."

This I think is a much more doable project and all us OLD FARTS will contribute our farts for the testing. WIN/WIN !!!:rolleyes:

J Tiers
08-28-2014, 08:19 AM
Dunno about people, or sheep (is there a difference?), but cows produce a lot. Strap a gasbag on top of each one!

Or... maybe not.......

ikdor
08-28-2014, 09:41 AM
The fart harvesting is actually rather big business. The picture below is of an installation creating 6000 cubic meters of methane an hour from manure (spiked with some other semi-waste products). It supplies electricity to roughly 80.000 households.

http://www.vanegmond.nl/files_cms/elementen/pagina/611021.jpg

Igor

Paul Alciatore
08-28-2014, 02:29 PM
The primary characteristics of a lightning bolt are VERY high Voltage, fairly high current, and quite short duration. The duration is part of the problem, but not overwhelming. The high current we can handle. Tall buildings, radio and TV towers are hit all the time and I have first hand knowledge that little damage is done. They are well grounded and carry the high current EASILY. You just need large enough conductors.

It is the extremely high Voltage that is the real problem. What would be nice would be some kind of transformer that would lower that Voltage while increasing the current. Yes, I said increasing the current. It also may be helpful if we could stretch out the duration. But I do not know of any way of doing either of these.

The problems with handling the high Voltage are several. Insulation is one. No one even tries to insulate conductors for hundreds of thousands of Volts except by large separations. But a lightning bolt has just developed enough Voltage to break down thousands of feet of air molecules. So just how are you gong to insulate your wires, cables, and other components? You would literally need to build something thousands of feet in length or height if you follow that approach. Some other insulator? But what? And just how much of it would be required?

And the storage of such Voltage levels? A capacitor stores a charge AT A Voltage level. If you charge a capacitor from a 10 Volt source, you get a 10 Volt charge on it. If you charge from a 100 Volt source, you get a 100 Volt charge on it. And so on up. So, you are going to need a capacitor with a Voltage rating in the hundreds of thousands of Volts range. The only one I know of is the earth-cloud configuration that produces the lightning in the first place. This is really just another insulation problem. If you can find the insulator, you can build that capacitor.

But what about transforming the Voltage level? A lightning bolt is not exactly AC and not exactly DC. It is more like a rapid series of really short DC pulses. It sounds like there may be some potential for transforming that to a lower Voltage, but the engineering is going to be a real BI#@%. And at what efficiency? And you still have that insulator problem.

Perhaps if you could get a lightning bolt to strike a predetermined spot and have some kind of structure in a nearby, parallel path, with many individual transformer elements on it. But the lightning does not strike that directly. Perhaps a tall tower that is heavy enough to carry the current and some coils along it's length. Hundreds or even thousands of coils surrounding that tower. Probably talking about a million dollar plus structure here. Since the tower is a heavy conductor and grounded at the base, the Voltage difference along it's length will be minimized. Perhaps only a few thousand Volts at the top. That would help the insulation problem.

Enough already! Perhaps a web search will turn up some more realistic possibilities.

darryl
08-29-2014, 02:20 AM
A high voltage pulse entering a capacitor bank will be snubbed as the capacitor absorbs a charge. If the high voltage persists long enough, the capacitor could potentially become charged up to the voltage level of the input pulse. The current levels in a lightning bolt, though high, are finite- therefore there will be a voltage developed across the capacitor which could be defined according to an equation which includes the parameters of the capacitor- the ESR, its capacity, etc. It would certainly be required to drain the charge into the desired load before the voltage rises beyond its rating.

I was thinking along the lines of a tower or a series of towers in an appropriate location, having a means of ionizing the air above it for several thousand feet in order to facilitate the construction of a conductive channel for atmospheric charge to equalize through. Seems that Mr Tesla would be a good guy to have around for this project.

boslab
08-29-2014, 08:10 AM
So your not trying to reanimate assorted body bits, shame, it would seem that the planet Earth is a gigantic generator to me, solid metal core generating massive magnetic shields, amazing it almost sounds like it was designed to me!
Would a carbon filament provide a conduction path i wonder, random
Mark

A.K. Boomer
08-29-2014, 10:38 AM
This post is about as much of a bad idea as it would be to - oh say, hand over an automatic weapon to a limp wrist'ed 8 year old little gurl expecting good results (Duh)...

So once again Darryl --- did you run it past your other brother Darryl? because for the most part one of you seems pretty practical/logical and the other one of you seems like quite the wingnut... :p

Glug
08-29-2014, 10:44 AM
This post is about as much of a bad idea

And they also mocked Frankenstein, the only man who knew the true way to harness the energy of a lightning strike.

RichR
08-29-2014, 11:32 AM
So once again Darryl --- did you run it past your other brother Darryl? because for the most part one of you seems pretty practical/logical and the other one of you seems like quite the wingnut...
He consulted Larry who gave the idea a green light.

Weston Bye
08-29-2014, 11:56 AM
And they also mocked Frankenstein, the only man who knew the true way to harness the energy of a lightning strike.

Yabut, he started with a kinda dead subject, and even after reanimation the results were not pretty.

Ben Franklin and others have done pretty much what Darryl is cogitating about. In Franklin's case he successfully charged Leyden Jars during his famous kite-in-a-thunderstorm experiment.

The Leyden Jar: lightning-in-a-bottle.

At a Christmas gathering Franklin, attempting a parlor trick of electrocuting the Christmas turkey, (Franklin believed an electrocuted turkey was much tastier) got knocked on his can while trying to administer some Lightning-in-a-Bottle to the turkey.

More here:
http://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/200612/history.cfm
Be careful, Darryl

A.K. Boomer
08-29-2014, 12:27 PM
It's also important to note that Franklin got lucky,,, many scientist died after him trying to replicate what he'd done...

If someone asked me to do it id just flat out tell them to go fly a kite...

vpt
08-29-2014, 03:58 PM
Lightning cooking? Attach cable to pig, send up rocket with other end of cable BOOM, pigs done.

Paul Alciatore
08-29-2014, 04:29 PM
I try to refrain from making fun of ideas that may, on the surface, seem impracticable. The problems may seem insurmountable, but many times in human history, that judgment has been proven wrong. I do not have a real offering for a solution to the problem of harnessing lightning, but that does not mean that others or even myself may not develop one. I try to layout the facts as I see them and offer whatever suggestions that I can.

One of the most productive tools for developing ideas is a properly conducted, group discussion. One of the rules of such a properly managed group is that negative comments are not welcome. Problems can be discussed, they must be. But to just say that the idea is useless or won't work is to end all progress as effectively as if nuclear weapons had been used.

Now, some ideas really will not work. Perpetual motion is one of them. Or is it? Has anyone considered the universe as a whole. It makes a grand statement perhaps in favor of it. It pays to keep an open mind.

Regarding darryl's statement about a capacitor bank, I do not know of any practical capacitor or combination of capacitors that can withstand a lightning bolt. And since the duration of a lightning bolt is measured in micro seconds (millionths of a second), it is going to be hard to transfer that energy to a load or other storage device in that short period of time. And why bother with the capacitor at all if you can transfer it that quickly to a load? Just send it straight there.

From a Wikipedia article, we are talking about Voltages between 100 million and a billion Volts and currents from 30 KAmps to well over 100 KAmps. Lets say we have a capacitor with a 10,000 Volt rating - oil filled, I guess or whatever. We would need 10,000 of them in series to build up just a 100 million Volt rating. And that is the low end of the range needed. And we will probably need to stack them vertically to prevent arcs to ground. That's going to be hundreds of feet tall. Insulate them you say? I calculate 42 meters of refined transformer oil. And that is needed in ALL directions except up. A cylindrical tank 84 m in diameter and 42 m high would hold 8.2 million cubic feet of transformer oil. That's gotta cost a few pennies.

"We need a bigger boat." Or another approach.

Perhaps on a mountain you could place a tower at the top to attract lightning strikes. Then run thousands of cables down the slopes of that mountain, just high enough above ground to make the metallic path down to the base of the mountain less resistive than jumping directly to ground. Now, at the bottom of the mountain you have a ring of capacitors, each with a series element that quickly increases in resistance as current increases. These resistance elements would keep the current in each branch, in each capacitor in balance so they all get an equal share. And each capacitor would have a spark gap to prevent it's Voltage rating from being exceeded. The inductance in the copper conductors running down the mountain would help limit the current and perhaps spread the pulse out over a bit more time.

You could have multiple rings of capacitors so additional lightning strikes could be captured. Fill them all up during the storm.

Just another thought.



This post is about as much of a bad idea as it would be to - oh say, hand over an automatic weapon to a limp wrist'ed 8 year old little gurl expecting good results (Duh)...

So once again Darryl --- did you run it past your other brother Darryl? because for the most part one of you seems pretty practical/logical and the other one of you seems like quite the wingnut... :p

The Artful Bodger
08-29-2014, 04:30 PM
I dont think it is true that lightning is a breakdown of insulation over thousands of feet, lighting starts as a breakdown between two relatively closely spaced points in the atmosphere and the breakdown creates a conductive ionised path(?) which in turn leads to further breakdowns and a rapid chain reaction. You need to tap that energy before the lightning begins.

Yes, fly a kite and collect what you can which over time would be considerable but when lightning is possible pull the kite down.

Paul Alciatore
08-29-2014, 04:32 PM
Lightning cooking? Attach cable to pig, send up rocket with other end of cable BOOM, pigs done.


OOooOOooOOooOOooOOoo-Oink!

Boy, I needed that laugh.

The Artful Bodger
08-29-2014, 04:40 PM
I venture to suggest a practical experiment!

Erect a long wire as you would for a radio antenna and build a small electroplating bath, maybe a glass jar with a steel nail for one electrode and a scrap of copper for the other, use copper sulphate electrolyte. Connect the nail to ground (the Earth is negative) and the copper to the aerial wire. Report back after some days or weeks.

I would expect to find evidence of 'useful' current flow.

vpt
08-29-2014, 07:27 PM
OOooOOooOOooOOooOOoo-Oink!

Boy, I needed that laugh.


Pulled steamy pork in a second.

A.K. Boomer
08-29-2014, 08:28 PM
I try to refrain from making fun of ideas that may, on the surface, seem impracticable. The problems may seem insurmountable, but many times in human history, that judgment has been proven wrong. I do not have a real offering for a solution to the problem of harnessing lightning, but that does not mean that others or even myself may not develop one. I try to layout the facts as I see them and offer whatever suggestions that I can.

One of the most productive tools for developing ideas is a properly conducted, group discussion. One of the rules of such a properly managed group is that negative comments are not welcome. Problems can be discussed, they must be. But to just say that the idea is useless or won't work is to end all progress as effectively as if nuclear weapons had been used.

Now, some ideas really will not work. Perpetual motion is one of them. Or is it? Has anyone considered the universe as a whole. It makes a grand statement perhaps in favor of it. It pays to keep an open mind.

Regarding darryl's statement about a capacitor bank, I do not know of any practical capacitor or combination of capacitors that can withstand a lightning bolt. And since the duration of a lightning bolt is measured in micro seconds (millionths of a second), it is going to be hard to transfer that energy to a load or other storage device in that short period of time. And why bother with the capacitor at all if you can transfer it that quickly to a load? Just send it straight there.

From a Wikipedia article, we are talking about Voltages between 100 million and a billion Volts and currents from 30 KAmps to well over 100 KAmps. Lets say we have a capacitor with a 10,000 Volt rating - oil filled, I guess or whatever. We would need 10,000 of them in series to build up just a 100 million Volt rating. And that is the low end of the range needed. And we will probably need to stack them vertically to prevent arcs to ground. That's going to be hundreds of feet tall. Insulate them you say? I calculate 42 meters of refined transformer oil. And that is needed in ALL directions except up. A cylindrical tank 84 m in diameter and 42 m high would hold 8.2 million cubic feet of transformer oil. That's gotta cost a few pennies.

"We need a bigger boat." Or another approach.

Perhaps on a mountain you could place a tower at the top to attract lightning strikes. Then run thousands of cables down the slopes of that mountain, just high enough above ground to make the metallic path down to the base of the mountain less resistive than jumping directly to ground. Now, at the bottom of the mountain you have a ring of capacitors, each with a series element that quickly increases in resistance as current increases. These resistance elements would keep the current in each branch, in each capacitor in balance so they all get an equal share. And each capacitor would have a spark gap to prevent it's Voltage rating from being exceeded. The inductance in the copper conductors running down the mountain would help limit the current and perhaps spread the pulse out over a bit more time.

You could have multiple rings of capacitors so additional lightning strikes could be captured. Fill them all up during the storm.

Just another thought.


Your confirming the very reason as to why I used the term "wingnut"

not logical not practical.

listen to Old Hat;

"Yer waiting too long!

Trace the energy in lightning, back thru the ladder of conversions back to the beginning."

also read Guido's new post about "free electricity" as in 300 bucks a month worth,,, well - it may not exactly be free but it's 1/1000th the cost of a system your describing,,, heck - and the panels are free - actually compliments of lightening strikes - I just rebuilt 6 of them - does not touch the PV part just burns up the grid contacts at the outputs.

thing is is we are being BOMBARDED by immense power daily, and not the crap kind, the kind you can actually use... and don't have to kill your self trying to get...

darryl
08-29-2014, 08:50 PM
Well I must confess- I happened to meet Curly and Moe in the bar late one night, after they'd consumed about eight pints each. Larry and my other brother were there too. Lot of good ideas came up that night- trouble is most of them sucked. (ok, I borrowed that line from George Carlin). Curly was the one who brought up the idea of harnessing lightning- :)

PStechPaul
08-29-2014, 09:47 PM
Curly was eating an orange, and he said, "If at first you don't succeed, keep on suckin' 'til you do suck seed!"

It might be possible to capture the energy of a lightning bolt with a capacitor having plates far apart, and then you can transform that same energy to a much lower, usable voltage, by moving the plates closer together. E = 0.5C*V^2, so if you mechanically increase the capacitance the voltage will drop. But to drop the voltage from, say, 10 million to 1 million, the capacitance would need to be 100 times larger. I don't know of any practical way to do this, but it is theoretically possible. The dielectric withstand of air is about 10,000 volts per inch, so for 10 million volts you need about 1000 inches or 80 feet. But the electric field is not uniform, and will intensify at sharp edges and points as are seen on lightning rods. That's why high voltage generators and test equipment use spheres and torus shapes for electrodes.

Here's somebody who got all the "free electricity" he will ever need:
http://enginuitysystems.com/pix/Impudencia%20muy%20grave-WA0000.mp4