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harnessing lightning

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  • harnessing lightning

    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.
    I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

  • #2
    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.


    • #3
      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.
      CNC machines only go through the motions


      • #4
        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.


        • #5
          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.


          • #6
            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!


            • #7

              It will put your eye out.


              • #8
                Study up on lightening before you invest in equipment!

                Originally posted by darryl View Post

                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!


                • #9
                  A bit of similar, or at least a touch of the same,



                  • #10
                    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.
                    Last edited by The Artful Bodger; 08-27-2014, 04:40 PM.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by CalM View Post
                      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.


                      • #12
                        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


                        • #13
                          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...


                          • #14
                            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


                            • #15
                              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 !!!
                              Location: The Black Forest in Germany

                              How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!