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Lightning power

Posted by: Sigma - Mon Dec 12, 2011 7:09 am
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Lightning power 
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Post Lightning power   Posted on: Mon Dec 12, 2011 7:09 am
Can a VERY large capacitor be constructed capable of storing a lightning strike and buffering it into a usable discharge rate? What about storing the energy in a ferromagnetic fluid as momentum and gradually bleeding off energy with small.coils?

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Post Re: Lightning power   Posted on: Mon Dec 12, 2011 8:08 am
In principle, yes, but it's not very practical. There's not that much energy in a lightning strike (a few megajoules to a few gigajoules, depending on who you ask) compared to what an ordinary power plant will put out (megajoules to gigajoules per second), so you'd need to capture a lot of them. Capturing a lightning strike is difficult, since the voltage, current and temperature are extreme (the total energy is not that large because a lightning strike only lasts a very short amount of time) so you'll have to be very careful not to melt your equipment. Of course, you can route most of the energy around your apparatus, and only tap a small amount, but then you're going to get even less out of it.

Wikipedia on harvesting lightning energy (where I got most of this stuff from).

Would a space elevator made out of a conducting material get currents running along it from electric charge in storm clouds? Would there be any way of using that?

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Post Re: Lightning power   Posted on: Tue Dec 13, 2011 2:51 am
Yep. High (extremely high) voltage, not much amperage. On most places on Earth it wouldn't be worth the considerable equipment costs to convert and store, but someplace like central Florida in the US, which has some of the most frequent lightning in the world, it might be practical.

Lourens wrote:
Would a space elevator made out of a conducting material get currents running along it from electric charge in storm clouds? Would there be any way of using that?


Yeah, just the friction of the air moving against its length will build up very large static charges. Its usually projected that it will be "self powering" on that alone.


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