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Why aren't we harnessing electricity from lightning?

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posted on Oct, 7 2017 @ 01:53 AM
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If the title question exposes my electrical ignorance, please forgive me. I do not claim to know much at all about electricity. However, like many I suppose, I've been influenced by Hollywood movies like Back To The Future and people such as Nikolai Tesla for a long time.

I've always wondered if it's possible to harness electricity from lightning and store it in some kind of large lithium battery.

Does anyone know if this should be at least theoretically possible? Is it just not that much power? Is that why we haven't implemented a solution like this for renewable energy?





posted on Oct, 7 2017 @ 02:09 AM
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a reply to: Tempter

No capacitors or any other means of power storage currently exist that can handle that amount of insane load at the instantaneous speed at which lighting occurs. I'm sure somebody is working on this as it would be a huge plus to be able to harness all that natural free power.
edit on 7-10-2017 by Nucleardoom because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 7 2017 @ 02:11 AM
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a reply to: Tempter

excellent question.



posted on Oct, 7 2017 @ 02:22 AM
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We're not smart enough.



posted on Oct, 7 2017 @ 02:23 AM
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a reply to: Tempter

First lightening has over 5 billion jules but occurs in a fraction of a second. Now thefirst reason is we dont know where its going to hit. And to store it you would need to make sure it hits the correct point. Then you would have to have something with the capacity to store it which currently doesnt exist. Then convert it to AC for use without frying the system. If lightening hits a transformer they blow up. Now the final problem though they have alot of energy most of it is lost heating the air around it to the temperature of the sun. This would tend to melt your equipment. This is why farmers used lightening rods better to hit that then melt a hole through a metal roof or start a fire.
edit on 10/7/17 by dragonridr because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 7 2017 @ 02:24 AM
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a reply to: Tempter

Nobody has come up with a practical method yet.

There are some interesting ideas to use lasers to create lightning-channels. But there is still the issue of handling the high voltages and power levels.



posted on Oct, 7 2017 @ 02:37 AM
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originally posted by: Tempter
I've always wondered if it's possible to harness electricity from lightning and store it in some kind of large lithium battery.

Does anyone know if this should be at least theoretically possible? Is it just not that much power?
I think it's possible, but you're right it's not that much energy compared to global demand for electricity. Most lightning strikes are air-to-air and we have no ideas how to harvest that energy, which leaves only the air-to-ground strikes, which even if you could capture every strike over land and the vast oceans would only meet the world's electricity needs for 9 days a year, assuming ideal 100% efficiency which is impossible.

At a more realistic 33% efficiency lightning would only supply 3 days a year worth of our needs and this would involve spending trillions and trillions of dollars on a vast network of lightning collection stations all over the planet land and oceans, so currently it makes zero economic sense since we get that 3 days worth of electricity a year far more economically from existing sources.



posted on Oct, 7 2017 @ 04:17 AM
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"That which hurts, instructs."
~ Benjamin Franklin



posted on Oct, 7 2017 @ 04:35 AM
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a reply to: Arbitrageur

When you say "x number of days of the year" are you talking globally, nationally, or what? Because if a company could manufacture the systems needed, then couldn't say a plant supply a municipality for quite some time?

Honest question btw, I'm genuinely curious at the feasibility of harnessing this kind if energy.
edit on 7-10-2017 by sine.nomine because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 7 2017 @ 06:42 AM
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a reply to: Tempter

They never been able to solve two problems associated with harvesting and commercializing lightning strikes. First, that phenomena is just too random. Sometimes you would have to wait for weeks before your washing machine would have enough juice to operate, Secondly, they could never design a switch heavy-duty enough to hand that sudden load. Actually, there was a third reason that they didn't like to publicize and that is lightning seems to have a mind of its own, virtually uncontrollable, and could and does strike anywhere it feels the urge.



posted on Oct, 7 2017 @ 07:42 AM
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yes we are

second line



posted on Oct, 7 2017 @ 07:57 AM
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a reply to: MasterOfNonexistent

[citation needed]



posted on Oct, 7 2017 @ 08:00 AM
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Well, one problem already seems to have a solution. They can trigger it by shooting up a wire when the potential is about to discharge.




posted on Oct, 7 2017 @ 08:13 AM
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originally posted by: Jubei42
Well, one problem already seems to have a solution.


Not really. You still need to be moving around to find thunder storms and expending resources firing rockets into the sky.



posted on Oct, 7 2017 @ 08:18 AM
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a reply to: GetHyped

This will probably not be a mobile operation, just setup at a good location with lots of storms and wait.

I think that a big part of the solution will involve using the earth as a big capacitor to store the energy AND be able to retrieve it.



posted on Oct, 7 2017 @ 08:29 AM
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originally posted by: dragonridr
a reply to: Tempter

First lightening has over 5 billion jules but occurs in a fraction of a second. Now thefirst reason is we dont know where its going to hit. And to store it you would need to make sure it hits the correct point. Then you would have to have something with the capacity to store it which currently doesnt exist. Then convert it to AC for use without frying the system. If lightening hits a transformer they blow up. Now the final problem though they have alot of energy most of it is lost heating the air around it to the temperature of the sun. This would tend to melt your equipment. This is why farmers used lightening rods better to hit that then melt a hole through a metal roof or start a fire.


You could look at weather maps and online lightning strike tracking systems to determine whether the most likely locations are. I uesd to live in Trondheim, Norway, and one of the mountains on the other side of the bay always seemed
to be hit by lightning.

I'd imagine if we knew where lightning strikes were likely to occur, then we could set up some kind of capture system using lightning rods - lots of fractal shaped spike trees. But the storage is the big problem. With that much current traveling through a single point, there just isn't any way of storing that much energy. An electrical storm is the equivalent of a battery and capacitor bank tens if not hundreds of miles across. There's just no way we can store that amount of energy at present.



posted on Oct, 7 2017 @ 08:30 AM
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Why aren't we harnessing electricity from lightning?

Back to the future was just a movie people.

Good Grief.



posted on Oct, 7 2017 @ 08:35 AM
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Because Zeus guards his lightning jealously unless he throws it at people he considers a-holes.



posted on Oct, 7 2017 @ 08:40 AM
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a reply to: Nucleardoom

Some of the highest energy experiments in the world are performed using large rooms full of charged capacitors.

The Earth's surface and it's many natural systems form a type of capacitor. For example, the Earth's surface and it's ionosphere are two conducting layers separated by air.

The surface-ionosphere capacitor is of particular interest in the study of sprites. Small "leaks" in the form of lightning can trigger much larger "leaks".

One has to wonder if we could use our own Earth or portions/layers of such to harness and/or trap the electrical activity generated almost continuously via lightning discharge?



posted on Oct, 7 2017 @ 08:54 AM
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a reply to: Nucleardoom

Apparently the flux capacitor can but you have to know in advance where the lightning will strike.

Lol
Ok I just couldn't resist. I'll probably find that someone else has already made the same joke but did it better.




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