harvesting lightning energy

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harvesting lightning energy

Postby sai bhargav on July 11th, 2013, 10:35 am 

actually there is a big issue in the recent years about harvesting lightning energy but the fact is even though its sporadic and too fast to capture why cant we build our own capacitor which can store high energy by just storing it in the sense absorbing lightning as soon as it strikes this capacitor??
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Re: Sky-Hy

Postby Faradave on July 11th, 2013, 11:38 am 

In a sense, the clouds were already acting as capacitors prior to release. It gives some idea as to the size of capacitor required.

Nevertheless, I believe this the greenest idea around to help solve the energy crisis. It is solar energy already concentrated (over time). There is no additional thermal loading on the environment, zero pollution zero digging etc. The supply is ample, Florida alone has enough lightning strikes to supply the world's energy demands.

Two main challenges:

1. Getting the lightning to strike where you need it. This is partially solved by lightning rods, tiny rockets trailing thin wires, or most interestingly by laser ionization trails (aimed tangent to a lightning rod and on into promising clouds. So far the lasers only seem to work for distances of a few meters. This will improve.

2. Storage, as you point out. Capacitors would have to be massive and capable of holding the charge long enough to feed some similarly massive, longer-term storage battery.

I think the latter might be accomplished with massive super conductor coils but my first choice would be to divert the lightning to massive electrode arrays in brine, overlayed with separate collecting conduits (following the pattern of each electrode) for the hydrogen and oxygen produced.
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Re: harvesting lightning energy

Postby Dave_Oblad on July 11th, 2013, 8:01 pm 

Hi all,

Cool idea but many issues to resolve.
1. An insulator that can withstand the huge electrical pressure.
2. Inductive reactance will hugely slow the charge rate and lightning is pretty brief.
3. Converting to a useful voltage.

I think Faradave has the right idea. You need to convert it instantly to a useful form. For example: perhaps you can use the energy to spark a Fusion Reaction in some material/metal. That fusion could then produce great heat for some extended time.. that can then be converted (steam?) to power an electric generator.

I wonder...

Regards,
Dave :^)
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Re: harvesting lightning energy

Postby Faradave on April 25th, 2014, 1:59 am 

Some recent progress has been made, in Florida naturally, which tops the nation in lightning strikes.
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Re: harvesting lightning energy

Postby Braininvat on April 25th, 2014, 10:25 am 

That last link seems to be more about getting it to rain, rather than harvesting watts. I agree that the capacitor would be the stickiest problem there. Even if the technology never got to where it could handle the brief intensity of a lightning strike, it might end up being useful for protecting equipment from power surges of a Carrington Event (giant EMP from a solar flare).
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Re: Multilaser Path Induction

Postby Faradave on June 22nd, 2015, 5:14 pm 

Here is another recent article, Could we one day control the path of lightning?

"...we see an electric charge follow a smooth path along a straight or parabolic trajectory.

Experimental figures show how different shaped lasers give discharges distinct properties and trajectories. By combining beams, it is even possible to achieve an S-shaped trajectory, with all other kinds of trajectory achievable in principle.
"
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Re: Image of Above

Postby Faradave on July 4th, 2015, 11:56 am 

Image

This source provided a picture and further description of laser-guided electrostatic discharge.

It cautions, "however, that the use of laser beams may scale up poorly to applications requiring discharges over larger distances - as might be required for lightning triggering and protection systems. ... it will be quite a challenge to apply Clerici's findings to guide lightning."
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Re: harvesting lightning energy

Postby Watson on July 4th, 2015, 7:54 pm 

I'm in the middle of a thunderstorm at the moment. Even though I hear loud thunder, the lightening is possibly miles away. How would you best position such a devices if you had one. Is being high enough all that is needed to attract the strikes?
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Re: Top Down

Postby Faradave on July 4th, 2015, 10:36 pm 

I'd start with places known to have numerous lightning strikes already. Objects tall compared to surroundings, such a sky scraper spires and communication towers. There conductors currently divert lightning to the ground, wasting the energy.

At this time it appears that we have no technology capable of storing that much energy in such a short burst. Tell that to the clouds which had been holding the energy quite nicely, possibly many hours prior to the strike! The act as very large capacitors. If we can build more dense versions of similar capacity, we'd have a place to store the energy until it could be shunted to batteries or the grid.

Large surface area electrodes in salt water should be able to hydrolyze water from which we might capture the gasses. H2 can be stored.

Also, if we can build massive superconductors for the Large Hadron Collider, then we can build them big enough to capture and store the lightning energy as circulating current. Super conducting rings can be energized and tapped with coiled wire.

Once storage has been devised lasers might be used to induce lightning to conveniently placed lightning rods, and at a time before a cloud's charge becomes unmanageably large.
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Re: harvesting lightning energy

Postby Phaedras on July 11th, 2015, 1:03 am 

It seems to me that a redesign of the electrodes in the capacitor would, at least partially, if not fully solve the problem of the capacitor. Use carbon nanotubes to increase the surface area of the electrode. This technique is already used widely in toys. Hopefully, there will be a 12V (for cars) version coming out soon. Perhaps this same technique can be used in a system like this only on a bigger scale. I believe they are called supercapcitors

The activated carbon in the electrodes are replaced with vertically aligned carbon nanotubes. The vertical alignment (vs. the irregular sizes and shapes of the pores in activated carbon) allows for straight pathways so the ions in solution can come in and out easily and pack together neatly.

Well, anyway, I wonder if we don't already have the technology to make such a capacitor right under our noses. I'm not sure if a capacitor of this type can handle lightning but it might -- maybe I'll look it up and get back to you.
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Re: harvesting lightning energy

Postby Phaedras on July 11th, 2015, 1:11 am 

Ok, I looked it up. Short version is: Could theoretically work but the size would have to be so large as to be impractical. This kind of supercapacitor is equivalent to a lithium ion battery (in terms of stored charge) of the same dimensions.
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Re: harvesting lightning energy

Postby redwhitechem on June 10th, 2016, 5:37 am 

Using electrochemical capacitors that energy storage is achieved by double layer capacitance. These capacitors with activated carbon electrodes or offshoots with much higher static double layer capacitance than the faradaic pseudo capacitance.
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