Democratic Underground Latest Greatest Lobby Journals Search Options Help Login
Google

So, whatta think about capturing lightning? Possible someday? Or not?

Printer-friendly format Printer-friendly format
Printer-friendly format Email this thread to a friend
Printer-friendly format Bookmark this thread
This topic is archived.
Home » Discuss » Topic Forums » Environment/Energy Donate to DU
 
htuttle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 06:59 PM
Original message
So, whatta think about capturing lightning? Possible someday? Or not?
We got to talking about the possibility of somehow doing this the other day at my house. I did some googling on it, and found no end of discussion about it on the net.

Found a million ideas about it, but no practical tests as far as I can tell. The ideas that seemed most possible to me involved converting the electricity of the lightning bolt into heat (via various materials), then using that to run a more conventional turbine arrangement. Sort of like a giant stove burner hooked to a lightning rod.

Is the entire concept poppycock? Some of what I found seemed to say that the actual amount of energy in a lightning bolt was very low (high volts, no almost no amps). Others disagreed vehemently.

In the large, it's just another way to harness solar energy, so it's not any sort of 'perpetual motion' scheme, but could lightning ever be utilized, and if so would it be worth it?

I honestly don't know. I've read enough about it in the last few days to be entirely unsure as to whether it's a useful possibility or not.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
evlbstrd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 07:02 PM
Response to Original message
1. Seems to be a pretty random energy source.
And you'd need a lot of kites.
Image
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
htuttle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 07:19 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. It's not entirely random
Put a tall metal tower out in the middle of Nebraska, and I'd bet it's likely to get hit at least once every storm. Double the number of towers, double the number of potential strikes.

It seems that we're likely to get more storms in the future, so it would be nice if we could make use of them.

:shrug:


Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
evlbstrd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 07:21 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Random in that the frequency of storms is undependable
as a viable energy source.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
htuttle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 07:30 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. I think it has to be more of a smorgasbord
Some of this, little bit of that, leads to a balanced sustainable energy diet.

There's a lot of different ways to generate electricity. Other than the ones that use petroleum products, none of them produce enough energy by themselves to power everything we need just to keep most people alive (much less living like they do now).

Put them all together in conjunction with an aggressive conservation program, and we might still pull through this. Or at least well enough to deal with all the flooding we're going to see.

Times up for 'best case scenarios'. I think we'll getting near the point (within a decade, given current course and speed) where "I'd piss on a spark plug if I thought it would do any good".

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
TlalocW Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 07:28 PM
Response to Original message
4. Only if it's used responsibly
For instance to bring to life 8 foot tall, hulking brutes, stitched together from the corpses of long dead felons.

TlalocW
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
gulfcoastliberal Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Sep-28-05 09:08 PM
Response to Original message
6. I think Tesla had something worked out; harnessing the natural
electromagnetism of the Earth through some kind of circuit to produce free wireless electricity but after he died the Supreme Court (so the theory goes) locked up these secrets.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-29-05 01:09 PM
Response to Original message
7. I would question the total amount of energy available.
The voltage is very high. The power is very high. But power is energy/time, and the time is very short. So the total energy isn't necessarily so spectacular.

And, even if you wanted to try, you'd have to have some kind of hardware that can store electrical energy at enormous wattages, for later use. I don't know if that kind of hardware is economical, for the amount of energy we'd harvest.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
htuttle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-29-05 01:19 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. It's the total energy I was curious about
I think the most plausible ideas don't involve capturing the electrical energy and storing it (which is extremely difficult, if possible at all), but rather converting that electricity into heat as quickly as possible, and using/storing the heat as you would with any other electrical generator. So you'd be using a 'heat battery', as opposed to an electrical battery, for storage.

But if the total energy available is very low, as you suggest, it wouldn't be worth much of an investment.

Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
NNadir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-29-05 01:47 PM
Response to Original message
9. One thing people often miss in conversations about energy is that
energy storage is both expensive and can be environmentally very harmful as well as dangerous. Further one almost always loses energy when one attempts to store it.

With that in mind, and considering the random nature of lightening, I don't think I'd invest a lot of effort in this approach.
Printer Friendly | Permalink |  | Top
 
DU AdBot (1000+ posts) Click to send private message to this author Click to view 
this author's profile Click to add 
this author to your buddy list Click to add 
this author to your Ignore list Fri Oct 24th 2014, 06:13 PM
Response to Original message
Advertisements [?]
 Top

Home » Discuss » Topic Forums » Environment/Energy Donate to DU

Powered by DCForum+ Version 1.1 Copyright 1997-2002 DCScripts.com
Software has been extensively modified by the DU administrators


Important Notices: By participating on this discussion board, visitors agree to abide by the rules outlined on our Rules page. Messages posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums are the opinions of the individuals who post them, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Democratic Underground, LLC.

Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals |  Store  |  Donate

About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy

Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.

© 2001 - 2011 Democratic Underground, LLC