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Idea #1

11.24.2004

babblingdweeb

Alternate power source: would lighting work?

In keeping with my mission to put random ideas out, here is the first of many ideas/concepts I came up with during my life.

I have always stood in awe of the power in lightning, but I also always wondered if that power could be harnessed or saved for future use. I recall reading an article in National Geographic in the late 80s early 90s about scientists studying lightning. They were launching high-end model rockets with copper wire spools attached. When the rocket went up it would run the spool of wire out and then the lightning would make the connection (lightning is capable of connections cloud-to-cloud, ground-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground) and it was a spectacular sight.

So my theory is that while lightning strikes are hard to predict, the idea that running a small charge at the top of a insulated pole in some random valley that has many thunderstorms roll through…okay I am leaving a lot up to chance here…could “collect” lightning. Then what?

“1.21 gigawatts!” The screams of Doc Brown and Marty McFly from Back To the Future can be heard everywhere. 1.21 gigawatts is quite a bit of power. Ask a Scientist has some interesting info on just that idea of power.

So you have this bolt of lightning, now what? Well my thought is that a rig of turbines, glass and aluminum might help create a mechanical capacitor of sorts. The energy would be volatile at first, but I think if you had it stored first then you used capacitors to fuel a turbine or a high capacity electromagnetic motor you could generate electricity. Now with the ups and downs of storms and such it would not be a way to continuously power a city, however, you could use it as a way to create a break on the electrical plants we now use.

With enough capacitors I would think you could create a storage field where you could house a large amount of energy and use it in the summer months when we strain the power grids.

What do I know? I’m not an electrical engineer, nor a scientist. :)

An idea is salvation by imagination.

– Frank Lloyd Wright

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