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cato
09-20-04, 08:18 PM
Hi, this is my first real science thread on SF so go easy on me. :)
I was thinking about how one might go about storing the power you get from a lightning bolt, and I came up with this idea.

One could make the “dielectric”(insulator) material between the plates of the capacitor out of some gaseous or liquid substance. This would give the plates the ability to move (like an accordion), and thus, if you wanted to prevent arcing during the initial charge you could have the plates a bit farther apart. Moreover, because the plates can move you would be able to adjust the distance of the plates to get the maximus amount of capacitance without arcing. If you had a predictable amount of voltage you would not need this but I don’t think lightning is very predictable. :)

So.
1. Would this be a viable way to store lightning?
2. What would make the best insulator/dielectric? Some liquid insulator, a noble gas, or just a vacuum? (I am leaning towards vacuum)
3. If you have a better idea let me know, I welcome knowledge.

dixonmassey
09-20-04, 10:33 PM
If you cannot predict the charge deposited by lightning, how can you adjust your wonder capacitor? Once arcing in a capacitor began, it's too late to adjust anything. Usually, lightnings last for less than 1 sec. Why would you want to store lightning? Despite impressive voltages, power of a lightning isn't that great.

dixonmassey
09-20-04, 11:06 PM
Also, capacitors are very lousy vessels for energy storage (low energy density=huge sizes of capacitors to store practically significant amounts of energy). That's why cars, submarines.... have chemical batteries for the energy storage instead of capacitors.

philocrazy
09-21-04, 12:17 AM
are you serious?????????
it would blow the hell out of your capacitor

cato
09-21-04, 12:29 PM
Ok.
1. I said go easy on me =]
2. You would start them out farther apart than you know you'll need needed, but after the lightning strikes, "less than 1 sec" you would have the plates adjusted via computer to get them as close as possible without arcing, thus improving the capacitance.
3. I don’t really have a reason to store lightning; it is just a concept for discussion and thought.
4. I know chemical batteries are better at storing energy, but how do you store a lightning bolt directly into a battery? The chemical reaction would not be a happy one. Moreover, if you could store it in a capacitor, you could use that to charge a battery. If you have an idea of how to store it directly into a battery then, by all mean, enlighten me. (That is the reason for this post)

are you serious?????????
it would blow the hell out of your capacitor
that is the reason I am discussing possible designs for capacitors that could stand up to that.

p.s. I am not trying to prove my theory correct. I am merely interested in people’s thoughts on ways of storing that much juice.

weed_eater_guy
09-21-04, 12:54 PM
your talking about storing all the electron discharge from a single bolt of lightening, which if you tapped it out slowly would make a good amount of power for a town for a month or so. Unfortunately, current capacitor technologies would require that your capacitor be roughly the size of Wyoming or something, several miles high. But that's with storing raw electrons, but if you somehow could instantaneously take that energy and convert it to a chemical energy in a battery, you might be able to fit that battery into a rather large facility, but there's no way we can make a battery charge instantaneously like that, so BLAM, the giant battery explodes or melts or something. Maybe have the bolt power some wierd process in a machine that craps out nuclear fuel or something... in a nice, compact, sweet little bundle of ludicrous amounts of energy... That'd be some REAL money there

dixonmassey
09-21-04, 01:07 PM
Well, size of your capacitor must be humongous = lots of inertia=even computer will not be able to beat 2nd Newton's law in less than 1 sec.

Secondly, imagine lightning as a discharge between two gigantic atmospheric capacitor plates. Size of the lightning will be an estimate of a capacitor size (without dielectric) you'll need to store lightning energy. Dielectrics, multiple plates will decrease that size but still, it should be huge.

If one wants to use capacitors to charge anything in controllable way, one must use resistors to adjust time constant (=RC). Humongous capacitor=humongous resistor=lion's share of power will be dissipated in a resistor.

cato
09-21-04, 01:16 PM
True. My theory was not really well thought out. Basically I was just trying to think of ways to capture the energy of a lightning bolt to start my thread out with more than just saying "how could one capture lightning". Perhaps oscillating it into the electrical grid, somehow, without blowing up everyone’s televisions that is =]

Do you have an idea of what might work?

Hideki Matsumoto
09-22-04, 11:58 PM
NOpe! a lightning bolt has WAY too much voltage to be completely stored. Waste of effort!
Instead of storing lightning why don't you make some! Ask me. I can show you some easy ways to make lightning bolts!

cato
09-23-04, 12:39 PM
nah, thats ok. I was just trying to think of a way to store/use lightning bolts. what kind of a devise could use that super high voltage? A rail gun perhaps?(probably arc to much) perhaps redirect it to a enemies position in a war zone via a laser(*makes air quotes like doctor evil*)

Nasor
09-23-04, 04:23 PM
I'm not sure there's enough energy in lightning for it to be worthwhile.

cato
09-23-04, 05:56 PM
"A lightning discharge is incredibly powerful--up to 30 million volts at 100,000 amperes--but is of very short duration; hence lightning cannot be harnessed or used." (Zim Burnett)

Not enought energy??? it has alot of energy, you just need to think of something that only requires a second or 2 of that very high energy. however, thats the purpse of this thread.

"hence lightning cannot be harnessed or used"(this is what I am trying to solve, even if that is just redirecting of the lightning)

weed_eater_guy
09-26-04, 08:27 AM
maybe in the future we could develop some kind of super-capacitor, using quantum physics or something to compres mass amounts of voltage instantly into small, building-sized power cells. Or maybe even phase the energy into another dimension or something crazy. the energy in a lightning bolt is all but ignorable, so i think as we become more and more advanced, man might start to seriously concider using this energy as we become more able to seriously harvest it. but as for right now, those bolts of pure energy are just part of a beautiful display on a stormy night...

Pete
09-26-04, 10:12 PM
It seems to me that lightning comes from a big capacitor to begin with (cloud-air-ground), so what you really want is a way to tap the energy in those huge natural capacitors before they arc out in a lightning strike.

It's much more predictable that way, too... the biggest hassle in making an efficient lightning catcher would be getting it under enough lightning bolts a year to make it worth while.

cato
09-26-04, 10:41 PM
how good of a conductor would a laser produced ion beam make? Could you use that to slowly "tap" the power out of a cloud as it builds? it would have a lot of resistance, but maybe enough energy to keep ionizing the air, and thus keeping an area free of lightning(for whatever reason, fire hazard maybe)

MRC_Hans
09-27-04, 09:11 AM
As Pete says, the thing to do is trying to tap it before it discharges. Find a way to hoist a wire to about 10 miles, and you could tab some energy.

The power of a lightning bolt is indeed enormous, but the energy is rather moderate, only a few kilowatt-hours. This is because the duration is so short, only a few micro-seconds. It seems to be longer, but that is due to two things: The flash persists on our retina for a considerable fraction of a second. Each lightning bolt is actually a series of very short discharges.

As for your variable condenser (which would need a dielectricum that could withstand a voltage capable of arching many miles :eek: ), the idea of varying it could overcome the next problem you would have, if you actually managed to capture a lightning strike: How to use a charge of half a billion volts :eek: . By increasing the capacitance, since the charge energy in unchanged, you would lower the voltage, ideally to something more useful.

Hans

RadialEngineMan
01-01-05, 12:20 PM
Amazing how little is known about lightning, as demonstrated here in this thread.

A careful reading of Ben Franklins famous experiment showed that lightning was electricity- and without a lightning bolt!

He used the charging of the atmosphere to collect energy to charge his Leyden Jar- a crude battery/capacitor.

No reason this method couldn't be done on a large scale.

In a strike: Mention is made here in this thread of the need for a resistor: not so, a charging coil (reluctance) could be used to limit the surge of the high amount of electricity. Such a coil could also have the added advantage of acting like a transformer- transforming high voltage/low amperes to low voltage/high amperes. It has the advantage of eliminating the need for a variable capacitor.

So sure, these things would have to be huge, but not the size of the "State of Montana"!

The TV Discovery Channel had several programs showing lightning and it's effects. They used rockets trailing wires to channel the lightning to a target. This could be done as a form of control. A ionized path created by a laser might also work.

To my mind, there are several possibilities of obtaining electricity other than the crude means we now use to make it. One is a way to tap the ionosphere- it contains a tremendous "Difference of Potential" as a result of solar cosmic activity.
Could it be tapped with a ionized path?

Nasor
01-02-05, 05:20 PM
How many joules of capturable electrical energy are in the average lightening strike? I doubt it's enough to be worthwhile.

Lava
01-11-05, 06:02 PM
Part of a lightning strike can be stored by any EHT condensor. I remember reading a story about someone long ago who used a metal ball to store it, but made the mistake of going too near the ball one day: he was killed instantly by a bolt to the head form the thing.

But to store the whole voltage of the strike you'd need a cap a mile high, as lighting is breakdown of air inuslation from sky to earth.

What can you do with the power? I tried to work out how to harness and use strikes to heat a pool, by simply conducting them through the water; but the power captured was inadequate.

The standard method to cause and capture a strike is to fire a small rocket with a copper wire tail.

This sort of thing was played with a long time ago, look for a book covering leccy in the 1700s, in the days before electrical wire.


Lava

RadialEngineMan
01-13-05, 02:35 PM
Amazingly, there are 2 different types of lightning, (actually 3, if you count "Sprites" somewhat recently discovered). The type mentioned by Nasor is probably negatively charged and has a short duration measured in just a few Milliseconds, but the 2nd type which is positively charged has a burn duration measured in tens of Milliseconds and is extremely distractive.

To capture such energy and put it to use, I would envision a massive inductor, which when struck with a bolt, would be able to transform the massive flow of energy and lower the charge with a secondary coil, or, using a movable core, like a solenoid, convert it to mechanical energy that could be stored.

One way of using lightning is for experimentation, as we are not capable of creating such high voltages for examination of the distractive effects. Using lightning directly would be a real advantage.

Concerning "Sprites": I believe these are created when the lower ionosphere "arcs over" to negatively charged lightning in high clouds. The ionosphere holds hundreds of thousands of volts caused by charging from the Suns cosmic particle bombardment. If we could just tap that........

Lava
01-13-05, 06:50 PM
The insulation needed on the turns of that inductor would be so huge as to make it unbuildable. It would have to be, literally, sky high.

If one could build a sky high cylinder and fill it with water etc, the discharge could run such a 1 cylinder internal boiling engine - but thats not very practical either.

The only one I could come up with was direct heating of large bodies with the strike, ie swimming pools. Trouble is, spending 20p on a toy rocket to capture the strike isnt worth it. There just isnt enough power there.


Lava

Scimon2009
10-02-09, 03:18 PM
Perhaps coaxing the electrons to flow through laser induced plasma channel, and by targeting small clouds to force a smaller discharge of electrons could be done. But how would you know when to induce the plasma channel and what cloud to “squeeze”. Maybe Doppler radar, statistical analysis, coupled with some good old fashioned let’s-see-what-happens.

Also what environmental impact would controlling lightning have? Complex systems often seem random, and perhaps messing with the electromagnetic systems of the planet is just unwise. But if you can make money at it, throw caution in to the wind and do it… or someone else will! :shrug:

atticstatic
12-20-09, 11:26 AM
dust and moisture in the air are functioning as a very convenient and maintanance free capacitor; with danger of fire and electrocution.
Provision of a network of conductors raised into the wind should service commercial/residential needs.

Dave Box

BennyF
03-17-10, 12:44 PM
Cato, you're going about this all wrong. First, get your terminology straight. You don't want a method for storing "lightning", you want a method for storing ELECTRICITY. A young man living in Philadelphia proved the connection with a kite over two hundred and fifty years ago.

Second, after the storage unit has stored all the electricity, don't bother trying to use it to charge a battery, use the electricity directly from the capacitor, with the appropriate electrical gadgets to regulate the voltage and current.

Third, check the US Patent Office later this year for a submission on this topic. It may mention lightning, or it may simply mention a method of charging a capacitor in such a way as to allow for a bolt of lightning to be the source of the electricity.

Benny (short for Benjamin)

BennyF
03-17-10, 01:48 PM
And fourth, think about using the properly regulated ELECTRICITY (contained in one or more capacitors) to turn purified water into hydrogen and oxygen, both of which are saleable commodities.

Use your favorite search engine for these terms: Amy, Fermilab, and lightning. Tell me what you find, and also tell me whether you see any half-truths in the reply that Amy got to her question. Electricity can't be stored, eh?

No mention of electricity from lightning mentioned at the DOE, even though they're supposed to have the world's best experts on energy sources and uses. What a waste of talent and what an opportunity for someone who can produce electricity from lightning.

Just think. Hundreds of millions of volts of useful electricity being thrown away by grounded lightning rods ....

Just think, a hundred thousand amps in a single bolt, just waiting for the right equipment to make use of it ....

Just think, a country (or a company) suddenly able to supply all the hydrogen that auto makers have been waiting for. Did you know that there are production car models right now that could be made in much larger quantities if there were H2 filling stations in more places? Go back to your favorite search engine and search for "h2 ice". You won't find a recipe for the latest mixed drink, but you will find autos (and light trucks) that burn hydrogen in an Internal Combustion Engine.

Imagine. A country that can start sending oil tankers back home ....

BennyF
03-17-10, 03:08 PM
If I want to submit an application to the US Patent Office, and I do, I have to follow the same legal requirements that are imposed on every applicant.:shrug: That includes a serious prohibition on the pre-publication of the heart of an application, the unique method or application that is the subject of the patent application. I can't write a book or a magazine article in any scientific journal on how to collect electricity from lightning. I can't tell any message board how to do it. I can't even tell my closest friends unless I want their names on the application.

The idea came to me "out of the blue" almost four years ago (thank you, God).:worship: I've been researching it ever since. The science works on paper. The energy I could gain from a single lightning bolt is well worth collecting and saving. The process for converting water into hydrogen and oxygen is well known, and yet, there's still a lot of research going on right now into the materials used in the electrolysis, especially the catalyst for the reaction.

I'm about to get myself into some real trouble, so I'd better quit while I'm ahead. Sorry for teasing you, but it's real hard being the owner of an idea that can make a big impact on the energy situation for our nation.:xctd:

Benny (a pseudonym)

jonte92
03-20-10, 09:54 AM
lightning carries large amounts of energy in concentrated small locations and is passed in extremley a short timethus high electrical powr is involved.the energy can even be used to generate hydrogen from water.thereforevthe technology involved in capturing of lightning wouldhave to rapidly capture the high pwer involvedin a lightning bolt. the low energy involved in each bolt renders hrvesting from ground based ligtning rods impractical. it is also very dificult to convert high voltage electrical power tolow voltage power that can be easily stored.BUT this is not black magic, it is simply math and science that needs time , money and brains to be achieved

Read-Only
03-20-10, 11:39 AM
This is an old idea that has been kicked around for a *very* long time. :) And it's not something that's going to be solved/developed by an amateur scientist.

The reason I say that is quite simple - people like the ones here don't even realize what the main problem is. It isn't just a matter of basic electricity but involves/requires strong knowledge in electrical engineering and heavy-duty experience in materials science. The point being that it will require exotic materials that haven't even been developed yet.

It's a fair analogy to compare it to a river held back by a dam and the generation of hydroelectricity. Almost everyone understands the principles involved in that. But THIS lightening process would be the equivalent of removing the dam instantaneously and trying to capture the energy in all that stored water in terms of milliseconds!!! The materials to handle THAT much energy in THAT short of a timeframe have not been visualized even on the distant horizon.

And please note that I am not saying that it's impossible sometime in the distant future. But it's far, far beyond the reach of even the best technical minds of today - and it IS impossible for the common tinkerer or inventor. All because the knowledge and materials simply do not yet exist.

BennyF
03-20-10, 12:50 PM
I freely admit to being an amateur scientist, and I admit to not having anything published in a scientific journal, but please remember one rather important fact: I didn't discover how to extract voltage from lightning. God did, and he chose one of his very humble servants to share it with the world. If I could add his name onto my patent application, I would, but the application forms require a correspondence address for every co-applicant, and I don't know what to write except to say "Get down on your knees and pray.":shrug:

Believe it or not, the extremely high voltage and current levels that are found in a typical cloud-to-ground lightning bolt are GOOD news, not bad, for anyone that wants to convert lightning to usable electricity. No, I won't say why, for the sake of my potential application to the patent office. You'll just have to trust me on this.

And yes, I am keeping myself "grounded" on the question of the dangers involved in having lightning anywhere near people, animals, and buildings. I've been doing a lot of research, into a wide field of related areas. I wonder how many people know that wildfires are sometimes set by lightning? I wonder how many people know that the fire retardant chemicals used to fight wildfires leave residue behind after the fire is out? I wonder how many people know the amount of money that has to be spent on transporting large numbers of trained firefighter personnel to the scene of lightning-caused wildfires, and then providing these people with food and water?

I'm also aware of the human cost of lightning strikes. People who get hit by a bolt sometimes die, and the ones who live usually have psychological problems afterwards, including social withdrawl and depression. That's not counting the medical costs of the burned skin and muscle tissue, the electrical damage to the brain or heart, and the loss of limbs that sometimes occurs. In fact, one of the reasons why I want to collect the voltage from lightning bolts is precisely because if I can direct it to my energy storage equipment, then that bolt won't strike anywhere else.:)

During the course of my research, going on four years now, I've seen a lot of ideas on how to collect energy from lightning. One idea, obviously from someone with a science background, involved storing a large supply of a high-specific-heat metal, such as tungsten, underground. The heat from the bolt would melt the metal. The heat would then boil water, which would turn a turbine. Another idea involved a torus-shaped dirigible that had metal wires on the outside of it. The dirigible would fly into a storm cloud, the electricity would transfer to the wiring just as if it was a transformer, and the dirigible would then land and dock with another transformer on the ground.

One word about the ultimate goal. Many of the people who have asked whether it's possible to get energy from lightning have assumed that the electricity would be donated to the grid. These people do not have any reasonable knowledge of what it takes to keep a business going. It takes PROFITS, that's what. You have to be able to sell a product for more money than you spent to make it. Donating electricity to anybody will not produce the money you will need to pay your engineers, your technicians, your salespeople, your office staff, and the executives who oversee everybody else. There will be no donations to anybody's electric grid. If you want the electricity I will provide, you will pay for it. If you want the hydrogen or the oxygen I will produce, you will pay for that, too. If you don't like that, then spend the rest of your life with your hand out, asking for donations from people who may not like your lifestyle.:mad:

Benny

Read-Only
03-20-10, 01:15 PM
I freely admit to being an amateur scientist, and I admit to not having anything published in a scientific journal, but please remember one rather important fact: I didn't discover how to extract voltage from lightning. God did, and he chose one of his very humble servants to share it with the world. If I could add his name onto my patent application, I would, but the application forms require a correspondence address for every co-applicant, and I don't know what to write except to say "Get down on your knees and pray.":shrug:

Believe it or not, the extremely high voltage and current levels that are found in a typical cloud-to-ground lightning bolt are GOOD news, not bad, for anyone that wants to convert lightning to usable electricity. No, I won't say why, for the sake of my potential application to the patent office. You'll just have to trust me on this.

And yes, I am keeping myself "grounded" on the question of the dangers involved in having lightning anywhere near people, animals, and buildings. I've been doing a lot of research, into a wide field of related areas. I wonder how many people know that wildfires are sometimes set by lightning? I wonder how many people know that the fire retardant chemicals used to fight wildfires leave residue behind after the fire is out? I wonder how many people know the amount of money that has to be spent on transporting large numbers of trained firefighter personnel to the scene of lightning-caused wildfires, and then providing these people with food and water?

I'm also aware of the human cost of lightning strikes. People who get hit by a bolt sometimes die, and the ones who live usually have psychological problems afterwards, including social withdrawl and depression. That's not counting the medical costs of the burned skin and muscle tissue, the electrical damage to the brain or heart, and the loss of limbs that sometimes occurs. In fact, one of the reasons why I want to collect the voltage from lightning bolts is precisely because if I can direct it to my energy storage equipment, then that bolt won't strike anywhere else.:)

During the course of my research, going on four years now, I've seen a lot of ideas on how to collect energy from lightning. One idea, obviously from someone with a science background, involved storing a large supply of a high-specific-heat metal, such as tungsten, underground. The heat from the bolt would melt the metal. The heat would then boil water, which would turn a turbine. Another idea involved a torus-shaped dirigible that had metal wires on the outside of it. The dirigible would fly into a storm cloud, the electricity would transfer to the wiring just as if it was a transformer, and the dirigible would then land and dock with another transformer on the ground.

One word about the ultimate goal. Many of the people who have asked whether it's possible to get energy from lightning have assumed that the electricity would be donated to the grid. These people do not have any reasonable knowledge of what it takes to keep a business going. It takes PROFITS, that's what. You have to be able to sell a product for more money than you spent to make it. Donating electricity to anybody will not produce the money you will need to pay your engineers, your technicians, your salespeople, your office staff, and the executives who oversee everybody else. There will be no donations to anybody's electric grid. If you want the electricity I will provide, you will pay for it. If you want the hydrogen or the oxygen I will produce, you will pay for that, too. If you don't like that, then spend the rest of your life with your hand out, asking for donations from people who may not like your lifestyle.:mad:

Benny

Please note that I have no interest in getting you to disclose any of your "secrets" - though I sincerely doubt that there actually are any.

However, you have acknowledged one factor, and it's something that most likely will doom your invention. It's called ROI - return on investment. I certainly could be wrong but get the distinct feeling that your electrical power is going to be expensive to produce - and there are already existing technologies that are fairly inexpensive to do exactly that.

Having said that, I *DO* hope you have something viable.

And incidentally, you sell MANY of us far short - quite a large number of us ARE aware of the number of fires caused by lightning each year. The number is around 31,000. (Oh, and Ben Franklin was NOT a young man at the time he did his kite/storm experiment. Was it you that said he was, or someone else?)

BennyF
03-20-10, 03:33 PM
My apologies for underestimating your intelligence and others who read this board. I'm just amazed that the idea that came to me a few years ago hasn't been discovered (and patented) much earlier. If I were to tell you the idea/method that I intend to patent, it wouldn't take you long to understand it.:o

Yes, I called Mr. Franklin a "young man". I thought that he was a young man at the time he flew his kite because young men are the most willing to risk their reputations in pursuit of science.

In reference to a recent comment regarding the importance of materials, I would like to make a distinction between science and technology. Science happens when somebody designs an automobile engine. Technology happens when somebody (perhaps a different person) builds it and tests it. As I said in a previous post in this thread, the science works on paper. I have not attempted to build a scale model of the collection and storage equipment out of fear of having someone else see the equipment and patent the idea themselves.:bawl: I am confident that the equipment will do what it's supposed to do. I am also confident that I'll be able to find enough engineers to design the system and enough technicians to build it.

As for the economics of running the equipment with a profit, I have to admit that this topic is out of my control. A patent application can take two years to be approved, and when the application is approved (assuming that it is), the prices for electricity, hydrogen, oxygen, materials, and labor will surely be different than they are now. In addition, as I said in a previous post, research is being done now on catalysts for the electrolysis reaction and on the materials for the electrodes. I've seen (public domain) reports published by two or three national labs on these subjects, for instance. These news stories encourage me to keep working on my patent application.

In the meantime, please send word to the nice people at Fermilab that DC electricity most certainly can be "stored", contrary to the advice given to Amy in response to her question. My rechargable AA batteries are proof enough for anyone.

Stoniphi
03-20-10, 04:38 PM
Then there are those 'ultra - capacitors' made from mylar sprayed with carbon nanofibres that they hope to use more effectively in autos. They are already in some, but are not performing up to their promise as of yet. They are being used for acceleration only ATM.......

Storing lightening is sort - of 'pie in the sky' for what we need right now. Hows about a decent long term DC storage along the lines of a vanadium oxide storage battery to make solar and wind more reliable?

I have also read those articles on catalysts....looks like they are going to make cracking H2O easier, now if they can just come up with a decent storage scheme for that.

Read-Only
03-20-10, 05:30 PM
Then there are those 'ultra - capacitors' made from mylar sprayed with carbon nanofibres that they hope to use more effectively in autos. They are already in some, but are not performing up to their promise as of yet. They are being used for acceleration only ATM.......

Storing lightening is sort - of 'pie in the sky' for what we need right now. Hows about a decent long term DC storage along the lines of a vanadium oxide storage battery to make solar and wind more reliable?

I have also read those articles on catalysts....looks like they are going to make cracking H2O easier, now if they can just come up with a decent storage scheme for that.

I agree that long-term storage is what we really need. There are plenty of ways to generate electricity efficiently but practically none for good storage. The closest we've come to storing decently large amounts is pumping water to an elevated level whenever excess generating capacity is available. And the efficiency in that case is *horrible*! It's only done as a means of providing peaking power.

And the concept of hydrogen economy that Bennie sort of alluded to has been given up for dead for quite some time now. (There are many good, solid reasons for that and hopefully most people are aware of them. If not, tell me and I'll give you a quick rundown.)

So, storage is THE key - not generation. There are currently so many new methods of generation that aren't dependent on fossil fuels - either being implemented already or proposed - that I hesitate to even start listing them. In addition, the science involved, particularly physics and material, are already well-proven, accepted and not terribly expensive. (In other words, the ROI is quite good.)

BennyF
03-21-10, 01:10 PM
As I see it, economics can be reduced to a "contest" between expenses and income. If you can make a product and sell it for more money than it costs you to make it, then you can use the extra money to continue making it. This principle applies to the hydrogen economy as well. Whoever can produce electricity from lightning must accept the fact that electricity is already being produced from other sources. Those other sources are the competition, and if you intend to sell electricity by the megawatt, your costs per watt must be lower than everybody else's in order to sell it at a profit. As a person who knows (trust me) how to collect and store DC electricity from lightning, and how to convert DC into AC, I'm counting on the large number of volts and amps to provide me with a low cost per watt.

However, I happen to believe that greater profits are possible if I use the DC electricity to fuel an electrolysis reaction, turning water into hydrogen and oxygen. As I have said earlier, there are auto manufacturers with production cars that run on H2 who are not building many because the supply of H2 around the country is so scarce. As far as I'm concerned, that's demand waiting to be met with a supply (of hydrogen). In other words, the first person who can produce hydrogen in large quantities and with low costs has an existing market to sell to. A better mousetrap, you might say.

I haven't done the exhaustive spreadsheet analysis on this question, but I'm working on the assumption that I will be able to collect so much voltage from a typical lightning bolt, I could keep my office running on that alone. I could, in principle, detach the whole company from its' local electric company and be electrically self-sufficient. People who claim that one lightning bolt will light an incandescent bulb for a couple of months don't know what I know - how to multiply voltage. That's why I love the electrical characteristics I've seen on typical lightning bolts. One lightning bolt can, if processed properly, produce enough DC electricity for a much longer time period, and no, I don't need a capacitor as big as a football stadium, either.:)

One more thing. The Patent Office has a numbered classification system for inventions. I have a good idea which numbered class my invention will go into, and even which sub-class. I've searched that class and sub-class, looking for somebody else that has already patented my idea. I haven't found it. Some patents are hidden from the public eye for national security reasons, so it's theoretically possible that someone else has, in fact, already discovered a method for generating electricity from lightning, but I just don't see a reason to put a lid on it, using national security grounds. The military already has access to nuclear reactors which can generate voltage and heat in very large quantities. Why would they want the relatively small amount of voltage that can be generated by lightning? And why would the military want to sit around waiting for lightning to strike when a potential enemy might move out of range before the lightning-powered weapon can be used? It just doesn't make any sense, leaving me with a good reason to believe that the US Government doesn't know how to extract voltage from lightning.

Finally, for well over a year now, I have considered patenting another similar invention, a method for extracting only part of the voltage from a lightning bolt, but I believe that this invention has already been patented (perhaps without the inventor knowing what he had), so I'm going for the big fish, the whole enchilada, a method of obtaining every last volt (and then some, using certain multiplication equipment) from the typical bolt of lightning.

Benny F (a pseudonym)

BennyF
03-21-10, 01:58 PM
Just in case I didn't make myself clear in my last post, when I say that I know how to "multiply voltage", I mean that if a lightning bolt has, say, 300 Kv, the equipment I'll use will be capable of storing tens of billions of volts.

That's what will drive the economics of my business heavily in my favor. The equipment is a one-time cost, and the cost of the labor, including all the office staff, should be far less than the money I'll be able to bring in by selling the hydrogen and the oxygen.

Assuming, of course, that our dear sweet government can put all of its' lovely red tape deep in an abandoned coal mine somewhere far away from my collection and storage equipment.

Sorry for the injection of politics, but that's the only real variable I can't stand working with.

You know, the real Benny F only had men in red coats to worry about. I may have men in white ones ....

BennyF
03-22-10, 08:35 AM
After reading my last two posts, I saw a typo, and I wanted to correct it before anybody else did. The voltage in a single negative lightning bolt is usually in the range of 100-500 megavolts, not kilovolts. My point is still valid. Whatever the voltage is, it can be multiplied a few hundred times, producing a stored voltage amount in the tens of billions of volts. Positive lightning bolts are rarer, but when they occur, they usually have a voltage level that's double what a negative bolt produces. This is not expected to be a major problem, but it will require an in-depth discussion with my engineers.

The science works on paper, and the only real problems I see are obtaining all the federal, state, and local government permits to set up and use the equipment and obtaining enough money to pay the employees, buy the land, and pay for the equipment that can and will collect and store this much voltage. After all that's been done, the profits from the hydrogen and oxygen sales should be enough to keep the business running indefinitely.

Read-Only
03-22-10, 09:00 AM
After reading my last two posts, I saw a typo, and I wanted to correct it before anybody else did. The voltage in a single negative lightning bolt is usually in the range of 100-500 megavolts, not kilovolts. My point is still valid. Whatever the voltage is, it can be multiplied a few hundred times, producing a stored voltage amount in the tens of billions of volts. Positive lightning bolts are rarer, but when they occur, they usually have a voltage level that's double what a negative bolt produces. This is not expected to be a major problem, but it will require an in-depth discussion with my engineers.

The science works on paper, and the only real problems I see are obtaining all the federal, state, and local government permits to set up and use the equipment and obtaining enough money to pay the employees, buy the land, and pay for the equipment that can and will collect and store this much voltage. After all that's been done, the profits from the hydrogen and oxygen sales should be enough to keep the business running indefinitely.

All the physics and engineering of your idea aside, you STILL don't seem to be aware of the fact that the "hydrogen economy" is dead. Rock-solid dead. And your failure to recognize that simple fact also throws a great deal of doubt on your ability to rightfully assess the economics of your entire scheme.

MacGyver1968
03-22-10, 10:37 AM
After reading my last two posts, I saw a typo, and I wanted to correct it before anybody else did. The voltage in a single negative lightning bolt is usually in the range of 100-500 megavolts, not kilovolts. My point is still valid. Whatever the voltage is, it can be multiplied a few hundred times, producing a stored voltage amount in the tens of billions of volts. Positive lightning bolts are rarer, but when they occur, they usually have a voltage level that's double what a negative bolt produces. This is not expected to be a major problem, but it will require an in-depth discussion with my engineers.

The science works on paper, and the only real problems I see are obtaining all the federal, state, and local government permits to set up and use the equipment and obtaining enough money to pay the employees, buy the land, and pay for the equipment that can and will collect and store this much voltage. After all that's been done, the profits from the hydrogen and oxygen sales should be enough to keep the business running indefinitely.

I've been floating this idea of collecting lightning bolts in my head the last few days. I'm just an electronic technician, not an engineer, so my design knowledge is limited. I'm curious what you mean about "voltage multiplier"? I've heard of a voltage divider...in fact, I was trying to think of a way to make a super high voltage/current divider for this project...as a way of converting the thousands/millions of volts coming off your lightning rod into much lower, easier to manage, usable voltages.

Captain Kremmen
03-22-10, 11:02 AM
Cato.
The first person who patents a device which will store large amounts of electricity in a compact space, without too much weight, and without too much cost, will become a US$ multi-billionaire.
Good luck.

If you manage it, remember I was nice to you, and send me a million or two.

BennyF
03-23-10, 09:16 AM
Thank you to all who have responded so constructively to my recent posts. I must remind you that in order to obtain a US patent, I am forbidden to divulge the substance of an invention prior to its' submission to the patent office. Based on those grounds, I will not say anything about the electrical design, but trust me, the theoretical voltage storage for a typical lightning bolt is in the tens of billions of volts.

As for the hydrogen economy being "dead", I will ask anyone who believes this to search the internet for hydrogen ice. As I said in a previous post, there are auto manufacturers who have the capability to produce hydrogen-burning vehicles right now in large quantities. The only reason they don't do it is because hydrogen filling stations are so scarce. Anybody who can generate hundreds of millions of DC voltage from a single lightning bolt and who can store TENS OF BILLIONS of voltage can certainly spare some of it for a DC-AC inverter and disconnect his whole office from his local electric grid.

After that's done, then the lion's share of the remaining TENS OF BILLIONS of DC volts can be used, a few volts at a time, for a hydrogen-generating electrolysis reaction. The fact that this reaction will also generate oxygen is icing on the cake. The real money will come from the sale of the hydrogen to auto manufacturers and fuel-cell manufacturers who are eager to sell their hydrogen-fueled products.

Anybody want to discuss metal hydrides?:)

Nasor
03-24-10, 08:47 AM
Anybody who can generate hundreds of millions of DC voltage from a single lightning bolt and who can store TENS OF BILLIONS of voltage can certainly spare some of it for a DC-AC inverter and disconnect his whole office from his local electric grid.
Uh...no. The electrical energy that could be harvested from the average lightening bolt would be enough to power a single lightbulb for a couple of hours. You certainly aren't going to be able to disconnect your office from the electrical grid. The energy simply isn't there.

Edit: Although you will often see ridiculously huge numbers thrown around for the amount of energy in a lightening bolt, it's important to realize that these numbers are usually generated by considering the power output of an entire 3-4 mile length of the bolt. Your lightening-collecting tower is probably not going to be 4 miles high. Perhaps you could float a cable with a balloon or something, but I'm not sure you could make a cable thick enough to not get vaporized by the hundreds of kiloamps of current.

MacGyver1968
03-24-10, 10:57 AM
What I'm still wondering....where is there a place on Earth where lightning strikes a given location often enough to bother to collect it? It would be alot more productive to take those same resources and use solar panels or windmills, and a shitload safer.

Billy T
03-24-10, 01:05 PM
To Beny F:

Do you understand that voltage is not energy? (You speak in your posts as if you do not.)

Storing the same energy in lower voltage capacitors is usually cheaper than in high voltage capacitors.

The energy in a capacitor is QV/2 or (CV^2)/2

--------Some one asked about how to increase DC voltages:
(1) one way is to convert them to AC and use a transformer to step voltage up and then rectify the AC back o DC, losing about 15 to 20% of the energy in the process, typically.

(2) a second way, commonly used when weight is important as it avoids the the transformer, is to charge many capacitors in parallel (say 10 for a 10 to 1 step up) and then rewire them into a series string. The "rewiring" is typically done with optically switched transistors. There is an obvious switch break down difficulty with the highest voltage capacitor in the series sting as at times it is at V (in the parallel connections) and at other times at 10V. -Optically switched transistors can avoid break down to the switching circuits.

BennyF
03-25-10, 11:21 AM
Once again, I thank all who have posted constructively.

Voltage is, of course, not energy. It is a measuring unit for the electrical energy that I hope to collect from lightning, store, and use.

Billy, your ideas on how to increase DC voltages is interesting, and no, I won't tell you my circuit designs, due to the restrictions that are imposed on all who wish to make an application to the US Patent Office. These are statutory restrictions, and I will not violate them.

MacGyver, there are lots of places on the earth, and even lots of places in the US where electricity can be collected in large enough numbers to make it worthwhile. As I said, the voltage can be multiplied, and as I also said, this fact drives the economics heavily in my favor. Yes, solar panels generate electricity, but they're currently not very efficient. Windmills also generate electricity, but they catch birds, bats, and bugs, requiring maintenance which reduces the potential profit margin for any company that owns them.

Read-Only, please explain why you think the hydrogen economy is dead. In my humble opinion, it's waiting for somebody to show that he can supply large quantities of it, which I can and will do, once the red tape is cut, the equipment is bought and tested, and soon after the tens of billions of volts of electrical energy have been fed into an electrolyzer, a few volts at a time (yes, I know how to do this efficiently).

Nasor, you said this:

"The electrical energy that could be harvested from the average lightening bolt would be enough to power a single lightbulb for a couple of hours. You certainly aren't going to be able to disconnect your office from the electrical grid. The energy simply isn't there."

I know something you don't, and you'll have to wait until my patent application is approved (approx. two years from now) before you find out how to generate tens of billions of volts (of electrical energy) from a single lightning bolt.



To all: Once the voltage has been drained from my energy storage system, it can and will be used again when the next electrical storm happens.

"Genius is ten percent inspiration, ninety percent perspiration."
- Thomas Alva Edison, holder of the world's record for the most number of US Patents given to a single human being

Benny F (a pseudonym)

MacGyver1968
03-25-10, 12:05 PM
MacGyver, there are lots of places on the earth, and even lots of places in the US where electricity can be collected in large enough numbers to make it worthwhile. As I said, the voltage can be multiplied, and as I also said, this fact drives the economics heavily in my favor. Yes, solar panels generate electricity, but they're currently not very efficient. Windmills also generate electricity, but they catch birds, bats, and bugs, requiring maintenance which reduces the potential profit margin for any company that owns them.

Benny F (a pseudonym)

I'm not asking for you to show your circuit design, but could you please elaborate on this "Voltage Multiplier"? V=IR. You can increase the voltage, at the cost of current, or vise versa, but the sum power stays the same. Are you claiming you can somehow "create" voltage?

Billy T
03-25-10, 12:21 PM
...
Billy, your ideas on how to increase DC voltages is interesting, and no, I won't tell you my circuit designs, due to the restrictions that are imposed on all who wish to make an application to the US Patent Office. ...I am not interested in your circuit design because:

First the voltage multiplier idea is not my idea. - They were used in space craft built at APL/JHU, where I worked 30 years ago and already then old established art to generate with little weight higher voltage than the primary batteries.

Secondly judging from your confusion between voltage and energy in your posts, you are not well enough informed in physics or electronics to know anything new of interest (or even decades old technology).

Thirdly, you are also miss informed about patent law. You can disclose your invention without jeopardy provided you can both establish / prove the earlier date of conceptions (A well sealed registered letter sent to yourself, which remains unopened is a common way.) AND do file a claim in less than one year from the date of public disclosure.

PS you do not "store voltage", only energy. Just as you do not store water pressure. There are quite close parallels between water pressure and voltage and between water flow and current. Perhaps with your level of understanding you should first try to understand them and why one does not store water pressure.

BTW you do not electrolyze water by feeding a few volts into it at a time. ONLY passing CURRENT thru the water PRODUCES HYDROGEN AND OXYGEN.

Nasor
03-25-10, 12:26 PM
Voltage is, of course, not energy. It is a measuring unit for the electrical energy that I hope to collect from lightning, store, and use.I don't understand what you mean here. First you say (correctly) that voltage is not energy, then in the very next sentence you say (incorrectly) that it's a unit of electrical energy. If you want to talk about energy (electrical or otherwise), you should use the units of joules.

I know something you don't, and you'll have to wait until my patent application is approved (approx. two years from now) before you find out how to generate tens of billions of volts (of electrical energy) from a single lightning bolt.
It doesn't matter what you do with the voltage, you can't magically create energy from nothing. You can't extract more energy from the lightening bolt than is present in the lightening bolt. A new 9 volt battery has about 15 kilojoules in it. You could easily use various methods to increase the voltage from it up to hundreds or even thousands of volts, but that won't allow you to get more than 15 kilojoules out of it, because that's all the energy in the battery.

No offense, BennyF, but you don't seem to know very much about electricity or physics. I fear that this will make it very difficult for you to get a patent, since your patent application will probably be read by an electrical engineer or physicist, who will probably be as confused about what you're trying to communicate I am...

BennyF
03-25-10, 04:16 PM
MacGyver, I will not elaborate on my voltage multiplier. It's part of what I must keep hidden from the public if I want to obtain a patent.:shrug: Trust me that the voltage levels of the stored electrical energy, will be many times the voltage levels of the original lightning bolt. Yes, I'm aware of Ohm's law, in all three versions of it, expressed in terms of voltage, current, and resistance. I'm not a law-breaker. I just wish to keep some things hidden until after the US Government approves my patent application.

Nasor, what I said was that voltage is a measuring unit of the electrical energy. So is current. Both are ways of measuring electrical properties of the electrical energy in lightning and other sources of electricity. Satisfied?

One more thing, Nasor, "lightening" is what happens when you pour milk in your coffee. That's twice I've seen you misspell the word, and you're criticizing me for not being exact with physics terms?:mad:

Billy, I've seen enough surprises in courtrooms to know better than to divulge potentially important circuit design prior to a patent issuance. Patent infringement is pretty common I understand, and the side that wins is not the side with the most righteousness, it's the side with the best lawyers, so I have to do what I can to protect my own interests now, before the patent gets issued.

Also, Billy, I know that current is necessary to electrolyze water, but the biggest factor in an efficient endothermal reaction is the REGULATION of the voltage (as opposed to the regulation of the current). That's why I wrote that the voltage would be fed "a few volts at a time".

The exact number of volts necessary for maximum efficiency depends on the catalyst, and as I've said, this is the subject of ongoing research. I've seen (public domain) hydride research involving two-element materials, and I've seen newer research (also public domain) involving compounds of three elements. Each catalyst material requires a different voltage level for maximum efficiency.




Look, I know that both voltage and current are in high amounts in a typical lightning bolt, and this is one reason why any person who wants to increase the US energy supply should be looking into using lightning to supply electricity. Once again, my collection, storage, and electricity-usage equipment is not complicated, and I am still amazed that nobody has figured it out earlier.

I'm not going to claim (in my patent application) that I've invented a perpetual motion machine, and I'm not creating energy from nothing. All I said was that the voltage amount of the stored DC electricity would be hundreds of times the voltage in the lightning bolt, or somewhere in the tens of billions of volts, given a typical 100-500Mv peak value for a typical negative lightning bolt. If you don't know how to increase voltage by numbers that have a few zeros in them, then fine. You won't see my patent application until the rest of the public sees it. I said that my collection and storage equipment was not complicated, and I'm confident that the Patent Examiners who WILL read my application WILL be able to understand it.

I thought I could give the energy industry a bit of hope, but it seems all anyone wants to do is to get a look inside my briefcase.

One more time. I know how to store tens of billions of volts of electricity, using a single lightning bolt as my source. I know how to convert DC electricity into AC electricity. I know that tens of billions of volts is more than what many offices require for their office equipment, heat, air conditioning, and lights. I know how to take tens of billions of DC volts that I've stored and use some of it (as AC electricity) for my office needs. And finally, I know how to take the rest of my stored DC electricity and feed THAT, with the voltage regulation that is needed for maximum efficiency, into an electrolyzer.

Hello, hydrogen economy! Hello, hydrogen-powered cars! Hello, industrial fuel cells to heat buildings! Hello, low-cost oxygen for hospital and nursing home use!

And GOOD-BYE to my local electric grid sometime after the first lightning bolt hits my collection eqipment!!

Benny

Billy T
03-25-10, 05:01 PM
... Also, Billy, I know that current is necessary to electrolyze water, but the biggest factor in an efficient endothermal reaction is the REGULATION of the voltage (as opposed to the regulation of the current). ...No, not quite correct. You mainly want to regulate the current density at the electrode surface. This is the "mico surface" - why porous electrode structures are used.

The current in the electrolyte is by ions and they move thru the much more common neutral H2O. For efficiency you want the electrodes closely spaced and large or to have a low surface current density. How much voltage drop is required is mainly a result of the electrode size and design for any given rate of H2 production.

You still have not grasped the concept of conservation of energy. Step up the voltage as much as you like and your energy will not increase -in fact some will be lost in the process.

DRZion
03-25-10, 08:06 PM
Hello, hydrogen economy! Hello, hydrogen-powered cars! Hello, industrial fuel cells to heat buildings! Hello, low-cost oxygen for hospital and nursing home use!


I place my bets on ambient heat conversion and geothermal. I have worked out a method that could potentially transform every depleted oil well into a useful source of geothermal energy - there are hundreds of thousands around the world. This puts power back in the hands of the oil industry, meaning minimal resistance from lobby groups and industry. The next step is finding an alternative market for coal - maybe as a carbon source for bacteria to be used by the food industry.



During the course of my research, going on four years now, I've seen a lot of ideas on how to collect energy from lightning. One idea, obviously from someone with a science background, involved storing a large supply of a high-specific-heat metal, such as tungsten, underground. The heat from the bolt would melt the metal. The heat would then boil water, which would turn a turbine. Another idea involved a torus-shaped dirigible that had metal wires on the outside of it. The dirigible would fly into a storm cloud, the electricity would transfer to the wiring just as if it was a transformer, and the dirigible would then land and dock with another transformer on the ground.


I don't know how well this would work. Lightning tries to find a path of least resistance on its way to the ground. Producing heat/work will by definition increase resistance, as far as I know in every case. So you have to offset these two - which may not be too big of a problem if you have a conductive tower 2 miles in the sky. At least thats how I understand it. :shrug:

I encourage you to keep up your work! I have faith in amateur/independent science and I think the most clever solutions will come from these people since they do not think within the paradigms set up by the mainstream scientific community.

Nasor
03-26-10, 08:20 AM
Nasor, what I said was that voltage is a measuring unit of the electrical energy. So is current.I'm sorry, but you are simply wrong about this. Voltage is not a unit of electrical energy. Neither is current.
Both are ways of measuring electrical properties of the electrical energy in lightning and other sources of electricity. Satisfied?It is certainly true that voltage and current are properties of electricity. But that's not the same as being a unit of electrical energy.


One more thing, Nasor, "lightening" is what happens when you pour milk in your coffee. That's twice I've seen you misspell the word, and you're criticizing me for not being exact with physics terms?:mad:
I freely admit that I'm bad at spelling, which will probably be a problem for me if I ever want a job as an editor. You, on the other hand, are apparently good at spelling but bad at physics.

You still have not addressed my point that there simply isn't enough energy in lightening to make collecting it worthwhile. You talk about changing the voltage of the lightning, but changing voltage won't let you change the total energy collected.
Also, Billy, I know that current is necessary to electrolyze water, but the biggest factor in an efficient endothermal reaction is the REGULATION of the voltage (as opposed to the regulation of the current). That's why I wrote that the voltage would be fed "a few volts at a time".

The exact number of volts necessary for maximum efficiency depends on the catalyst, and as I've said, this is the subject of ongoing research. I've seen (public domain) hydride research involving two-element materials, and I've seen newer research (also public domain) involving compounds of three elements. Each catalyst material requires a different voltage level for maximum efficiency.The higher the voltage, the less efficient the process. The best current catalysts allow water to be split with just 1.29 volts, which is very close to theoretically perfect efficiency.

I said that my collection and storage equipment was not complicated, and I'm confident that the Patent Examiners who WILL read my application WILL be able to understand it.Given your demonstrated inability to use basic physics terms correctly, I have my doubts about that...

I know that tens of billions of volts is more than what many offices require for their office equipment, heat, air conditioning, and lights.
And you are still using the term "voltage" as if it were a unit of energy :rolleyes:

Who cares about voltage? Okay, I'll grant you that there's probably some minimum voltage necessary to operate your office equipment, but that's not really relevant since a simple transformer can easily change the voltage from whatever electrical source supplies your office to the necessary voltage for the specific device you want to power. Changing the voltage of electricity is easy, and there are many, many ways to do it. The issue is energy. Changing the voltage of the electricity coming out of a power source does not change the amount of energy that can be extracted from the power source, and lightning isn't going to give you enough energy.

Please explain what you think you will gain by increasing the voltage to billions of volts. Your office equipment doesn't run on billions of volts, it runs on somewhere between 1.5 V and 220 V. Electrolysis with an efficient catalyst only takes about 1.3 V. So what's the advantage of stepping it up to billions of volts, only to step it back down again before feeding it into an appliance? While explaining, please remember that changing the voltage of the electricity will not allow you to change the total amount of energy present.

Captain Kremmen
03-26-10, 09:38 AM
http://www.solarbotics.com/assets/images/cpag1.0f/cpag10f_ps.jpg
1 farad worth of storage in a tiny Aerogel capacitor. These are the latest in high-density power capacitors. 2.5 volts.


These cost $5 (The capacitor, not the m and m)
How much would a supercapacitor which could store the energy from a lightning bolt cost? And how big would it have to be?

The average bolt of negative lightning carries an electric current of 30 kiloamperes (kA), and transfers a charge of five coulombs and 500 MJ of energy.
From Wiki.

You'd need to scale down the cost, because it would be on a much larger scale.
But let's say it was one percent of the total cost.
Anyone good at sums?

Nasor
03-26-10, 10:16 AM
http://www.solarbotics.com/assets/images/cpag1.0f/cpag10f_ps.jpg
1 farad worth of storage in a tiny Aerogel capacitor. These are the latest in high-density power capacitors. 2.5 volts.


These cost $5 (The capacitor, not the m and m)
How much would a supercapacitor which could store the energy from a lightning bolt cost? And how big would it have to be?

The average bolt of negative lightning carries an electric current of 30 kiloamperes (kA), and transfers a charge of five coulombs and 500 MJ of energy.
From Wiki.

You'd need to scale down the cost, because it would be on a much larger scale.
But let's say it was one percent of the total cost.
Anyone good at sums?

1 farad at 2.5 volts = 1.25 J, so if you want to store 500 MJ you would need about 400 million such capacitors. But that's probably not a good metric for figuring out how much it would cost, because for something like this you would probably use a much small number of much larger capacitors. I don't think you can scale the price easily.

The real problem is the 500 MJ figure. That might be right for the initial electrostatic potential energy of the entire cloud/ground system, but a huge chunk of that is going to be used up creating the initial ionization path between the cloud and ground (it takes a LOT of energy to ionize a 1 cm column of air that's 3 or 4 miles long), or other sources of inefficiency. The actual electrical energy in the average bolt that is available to be harvested is only on the order of a few MJ. That's the key point that BennyF keeps dodging. He talks about increasing the voltage, as if that would somehow increase the energy available, but unless he has a way to magically get more energy out of his lightning collection device than the lightening puts into it, he isn't going to capture very much energy.

Edit: For comparison, a kilowatt hour of electricity costs about 9 cents on average in the US, and is equal to 3.6 MJ. Given that, one would expect the tower to produce something like 5-15 cents worth of energy every time it's hit by lightning (assuming you can capture most of it). For comparison, a 1 m^2 solar panel could collect that much energy in 3 or 4 hours on the average sunny day. So the tower would need to be hit by lightening an average of about 4 times per day to equal the energy collection of a single 1 m^2 solar panel.

Edit again: Fixed calculation typo.

Billy T
03-26-10, 10:25 AM
http://www.solarbotics.com/assets/images/cpag1.0f/cpag10f_ps.jpg
1 farad worth of storage in a tiny Aerogel capacitor. These are the latest in high-density power capacitors. 2.5 volts....That is quite impressive. The capacitor stored energy E = CV/2 so you have 1.25 joules stored at the rated voltage 2.5V. To do this with very high voltage and much lower C is very much more expensive.

For example to store 1.25J at 2.5 million volts you need a one microfarad capacitor RATED FOR 2.5e6 Volts.

Ideally you could keep the total plate area the same / unchanged and make the separation between the plates a million times greater to keep the same internal electric field in the dielectric of the capacitor (still just safely below the dielectric breakdown field strength). A million times greater separation between the plates would correspond to the needed one microfarad capacitor.

Thus the capacitor would be much larger - with a million times more volume, needing a million times more dielectric and cost approximate a 1,000,000 times more yet still only store the same energy*

SUMMARY: By going to a high voltage storage design, of one million (or more) volts BennyF is forcing his system to be about a million (or more) times more expensive per unit of energy stored!

BennyF knows very little physics, but perhaps he can follow / understand as I have explained this to him in a numerical illustration.


PS it worth noting that the M&M stores much more energy than the capacitor can. I am to lazy to search for the sugar content of an M&M and calculate but I would be confident that the M&M is storing at least 1,000 times more energy than the fully charged capacitor. Chemical energy storage is what is required for a practical car. Thus I am confident that the talk "supper capacitors" for primary energy storage is nonsense - They may have a use as regenerative braking energy storage, but I doubt even that.
----------------------
*Actually it is worse than that because it is impossible to make the thick dielectric separator between the plates perfectly uniform. I.e. some regions will have a lower dielectric constant than others. In those regions the internal electric field will be greater – closer to the dielectric breakdown field strength. To reduce the field in these regions so it too is safely below breakdown field strength, the spacing between the plate must be MORE than a million times greater. This then makes the value of C less than one microfarad.

To help BennyF follow, I will continue with a numerical example. I.e. assume there is a 10% variation in the internal dielectric constant. Then the spacing between the plate must be 1,100,000 times greater to avoid breakdown, and to compensate for the corresponding reduction in capacitance the plate area must be 10% larger. This makes an additional 20% increase in the dielectric volume and cost.

But don't be discouraged BennyF. Hold fast to your ignorance as DRZion encourages:

... I encourage you to keep up your work! I have faith in amateur/independent science and I think the most clever solutions will come from these people since they do not think within the paradigms set up by the mainstream scientific community.

Captain Kremmen
03-26-10, 11:28 AM
Yes, given that the figures are all correct, there is surprisingly little energy in a lightning bolt.
Or to put it another way, a surprisingly large amount of energy in 1 KWH.

Billy T
03-26-10, 11:46 AM
... Or to put it another way, a surprisingly large amount of energy in 1 KWH.Yes the technician who assisted me at work recovered his roof with new shingles.

He spent the entire first day repeatedly climbing a ladder with a heavy pack of shingles to get them all onto top of his house. Exhausted that eve after dinner he decided to compute how much work he had done. I forget the exact answer but it was about one cent worth of electrical energy. (Much less than 1KWH)

Nasor
03-26-10, 11:51 AM
Yes, given that the figures are all correct, there is surprisingly little energy in a lightning bolt.
Or to put it another way, a surprisingly large amount of energy in 1 KWH.
Well, there's certainly a lot of energy expended in the creation of the bolt - as the wiki page says, hundreds of MJ or more. The problem is that so much of it is already expended by the time it reaches the ground. But even if you could capture all 500 MJ that goes into making a bolt, that would be something like $12 worth of electricity. How many times would you expect it to be hit in a year?

Captain Kremmen
03-26-10, 12:04 PM
Here's a map showing the density of lightning strikes world wide, per square km .
Even if you captured every lightning strike in 1 square km of Florida,which in the US is particularly lightning prone, you would only capture about 40 per year.
The Congo is the world's best place for lightning at 70 per Km squared.

http://geology.com/news/lightning-map.gif

from http://geology.com/articles/lightning-map.shtml

Billy T
03-26-10, 12:11 PM
Another way to quickly understand, without post 54's physics of why, how stupid is BennyF’s idea of storing energy via high voltage is to make a series string of one million of those $5, one farad, 2.5V rated capacitors seen in post 53 photo. That series string is now a one microfarad capacitor rated for 2.5e6 volts and can store the same 1.25Joues, but now at 2.5 million volts.

SUMMARY: Again as shown in post 54, it is a million times more expensive to store the same energy if the storage voltage is a million times greater* I.e. instead of $5 to store 1.25J you will spend five million dollars!

-------------------
*Again when one takes practical factors into consideration, at least one of the million capacitors in the series string will either (1) have less than one Farad (and thus have more than 2.5 Volts across it) and break down. OR (2) have less perfectly constructed dielectric space and thus not be a 2.5V capacitor. So in practice you will need more than a million units in series to have a sting rated for 2.5 million volts.

PS if BennyF submits his ideas to the USPTO I think he should attached a warning so that the inspector does not die laughing.

MacGyver1968
03-26-10, 12:55 PM
I'm sure you'd be using caps that looked more like this:

http://img.directindustry.com/images_di/photo-g/high-voltage-capacitor-171188.jpg

The highest voltage cap I could find topped out at 20kV...although the capacitance was not listed.

I still don't understand why you would want to step up the voltage of the incoming bolt. High voltage is really hard to work with, as you have problems with arcing. Seems to me, you would want to break up that large input voltage into many branches of a lower, easier to use voltage that components are actually rated for...using some sort of voltage divider. Eventually, you would have to get the voltage to a level low enough to charge batteries. Caps are far to leaky to hold the current for any long period of time.

Billy T
03-26-10, 01:34 PM
To get to just a million volts BennyF would need a series string of 50 of those large 20KV capacitors. The string would be a would have only 0.02 fraction of the capacity one of the capacitors in the string, which I would guess is not more than 20 microfarads. (I used quite similar capacitors for 15 years when working on the controlled fusion problem.) If that guess is correct, he would with 50 units have a 0.4 microfarad / million volt capacitor in which he could store the staggering quantity of 0.2 joules! :rolleyes: (Note 0.2J could sustain a 100W light bulb for 2 milli seconds! If the filament were cold and 0.2J were dumped into it, I doubt it would even get hot enough to emit any light. BennyF is going to disconnect entire office buildings from the grid with his invention! We should move this thread to "jokes and funny stories" thread. Great ignorance can be amusing.)

Most high voltage capacitors are used in a fast discharge mode to get very high powers. Thus they are also designed to keep the internal inductance as low as possible as it is the LC time constant that determines how fast you can dump the stored energy. This makes these capacitors more expensive. You did not tell the price, but I would guess at least $400 each.* If that is correct, he would pay $20,000 to store 0.2J at in at a million volts.

The 1.25 J stored at 5 V in the 1 Farad capacitors of post 53 photo is 6.5 times more energy than 0.2J so if he wanted to store the same 1.25J at a million volts, and my guesses are about correct, it would cost him 6.5x20,000 = $1.25 million dollars - nearly what I calcualted before in post 54 but less as only 50, not a million subunits to buy and wire up. These near identical results tend to confirm my guesses.

PS one reason why high voltage capacitors with rating above about 20KV are not common is that is about the limit of Hg vapor ignatron switches - You don't dischage these 20KV capacitors with a knife switch especially in a string with a million volt charge.
--------
* I would not be the least surprized if a low inductance, 20 microfarad, 20KV capacitor cost $1000 now. If that is the case, then BennyF string would cost more than 3 million dollars to store the same energy as the $5, low-voltage capacitor of the post 53 photo! And that does not include the oil filled room they operate in to avoid air breakdown discharge.

MacGyver1968
03-26-10, 03:21 PM
So 50 caps at $1000 a piece...that's $50K

I could buy almost a 100 of these at that price:

http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=solar+panels&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&hl=en&cid=18032150332059184552&sa=title#p

12kW....generated on any sunny day...vs. waiting for an electrical storm....what seems more feasible and reliable?

Captain Kremmen
03-27-10, 03:39 AM
Anyone got ideas on how to capture some of the energy from a hurricane?

Stoniphi
03-27-10, 06:12 AM
So 50 caps at $1000 a piece...that's $50K

I could buy almost a 100 of these at that price:

http://www.google.com/products/catalog?q=solar+panels&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-a&hl=en&cid=18032150332059184552&sa=title#p

12kW....generated on any sunny day...vs. waiting for an electrical storm....what seems more feasible and reliable?

If you check out DIY collectors they are considerably cheaper to fabricate.

MacGyver1968
03-27-10, 07:45 AM
Anyone got ideas on how to capture some of the energy from a hurricane?

A really big windmill? :)

BennyF
03-27-10, 08:44 AM
This may be my last post on this topic. I have seen signs of a discouraged U.S. energy market, suffering from a formally-recognized recession, credible talk of a peak in oil supplies, a President of questionable birth who doesn't seem to want businessmen to make profits in any industry, and anecdotal stories of independent inventors who have had their workshops raided, their families threatened, and their inventions stolen. Two example: The inventor of the supercomputer, Seymour Cray, died in a car accident of suspicious nature, and a man who designed and tested an electrolyzer for vehicles was personally threatened so badly that he passed his ideas along to friends before he publicly announced he was quitting the business.:mad:

Here's an exact quote from one paragraph of a 2006 web page:

"After announcing that he had successfully built a truck that runs on Joe Cell technology, drawing energy from water and Orgone, Bill Williams said he was approached by two men who demanded that he stop his research, threatening him with dire consequences if he didn't. Others are keeping it alive."




I decided to fight this malaise by registering on this board with a pseudonym (to protect my identity) and by posting enough generic information to give the country some hope that a new energy source was possible, that the proof of its' existence would come from the U.S. Patent Office, and that once a patent had been approved, the new energy source would be developed privately which would enable the existing electric grid to be spared more usage by another company. My company will not need any electricity from my grid, because my office will be electrically self-sufficient.

Those were the reasons why I posted my first messages.




However, as time went on, I saw few signs that anything had changed. I still saw a search for the technical details that I must keep hidden in order to satisfy the requirements of the patent office. I still saw more than enough scepticism that any energy could ever come from lightning, which has a lot of it, just waiting to be developed.

I will stop posting for awhile on this topic. I may post on other topics on this website, but I will not discuss lightning (not lightening, Nasor), and I will not talk about my circuit designs, because they won't be relevant to the topics of the other boards.

You all are welcome to compare the size of your dielectrics without me. Just remember that I am still working alone on my patent application. Oh, and just because my previous goals have been challenged by people who haven't seen my circuit designs, I have set a new goal. I now intend to store ONE HUNDRED BILLION VOLTS of DC electricity, using a single lightning bolt as my power source. And no, I still won't be breaking any laws, including Ohm's.

Vaya con Dios,

Benny F:cool: (a pseudonym)

Billy T
03-27-10, 09:20 AM
This may be my last post on this topic. ... I now intend to store ONE HUNDRED BILLION VOLTS of DC electricity,... Vaya con Dios,
Benny F:cool: (a pseudonym)Even if submerged in the highest dielectric strength oil known, you will not store it for more than a few microsecond before there is an electrical breakdown discharge.

I know you are not interested in learning about these things, but if you ever change your mind, you might read about "bloom line" capacitors. They are two simple plates with extremely pure water between as the dielectric. Other capacitors quickly dump their charge into the bloom line, and over volt it. I.e. the water dielectric starts to breakdown and discharge the bloom line capacitor internally, but before an arc path thru the water can be established, the bloom line capacitor is dumped into the external load. Bloom lines are rarely used, but they can achieve the greatest power out puts of all capacitors as they can be dumped (must be dumped) in a few micro seconds or less. Even only 1 Joule, dumped in a microsecond is a 1MW power level. I don't remember the details, never worked with a bloom line, but think a well designed one can deliver higher power levels than the entire output of the largest electric plant in the world.

Any discussion of bloom lines you find will help you understand dielectric breakdown mechanisms. There are no dielectric that can resist breakdown if ONE HUNDRED BILLION VOLTS exists between any two points which are not many meters* apart but as the bloom line technology shows you can overvolt the dielectric for a few microseconds of storage.

Vaya con Dios, Billy T

-------------------
*As the typical voltage difference between the cloud and the ground is only 200 million volts, never more than a billion volts, and you are speaking of 100 times greater voltage you had better keep the "two points" with hundred billion volts voltage difference of your device many kilometers apart to avoid air break down lightning bolt discharging your storage.

Captain Kremmen
03-27-10, 09:21 AM
Bye Benny.


Here's another quote from wiki.
The terawatt is equal to one trillion watts. The total power used by humans worldwide (about 16 TW in 2006) is commonly measured in this unit. The most powerful lasers from the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s produced power in terawatts, but only for nanosecond time frames. The average stroke of lightning peaks at 1 terawatt, but these strokes only last for 30 microseconds.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terawatt#Multiples

@Nasor, how does that compare in energy output with the previous calculation?

Neverfly
03-27-10, 09:46 AM
This may be my last post on this topic. I have seen signs of a discouraged U.S. energy market, suffering from a formally-recognized recession, credible talk of a peak in oil supplies, a President of questionable birth who doesn't seem to want businessmen to make profits in any industry, and anecdotal stories of independent inventors who have had their workshops raided, their families threatened, and their inventions stolen. Two example: The inventor of the supercomputer, Seymour Cray, died in a car accident of suspicious nature, and a man who designed and tested an electrolyzer for vehicles was personally threatened so badly that he passed his ideas along to friends before he publicly announced he was quitting the business.:mad:

Here's an exact quote from one paragraph of a 2006 web page:

"After announcing that he had successfully built a truck that runs on Joe Cell technology, drawing energy from water and Orgone, Bill Williams said he was approached by two men who demanded that he stop his research, threatening him with dire consequences if he didn't. Others are keeping it alive."




I decided to fight this malaise by registering on this board with a pseudonym (to protect my identity) and by posting enough generic information to give the country some hope that a new energy source was possible, that the proof of its' existence would come from the U.S. Patent Office, and that once a patent had been approved, the new energy source would be developed privately which would enable the existing electric grid to be spared more usage by another company. My company will not need any electricity from my grid, because my office will be electrically self-sufficient.

Those were the reasons why I posted my first messages.




However, as time went on, I saw few signs that anything had changed. I still saw a search for the technical details that I must keep hidden in order to satisfy the requirements of the patent office. I still saw more than enough scepticism that any energy could ever come from lightning, which has a lot of it, just waiting to be developed.

I will stop posting for awhile on this topic. I may post on other topics on this website, but I will not discuss lightning (not lightening, Nasor), and I will not talk about my circuit designs, because they won't be relevant to the topics of the other boards.

You all are welcome to compare the size of your dielectrics without me. Just remember that I am still working alone on my patent application. Oh, and just because my previous goals have been challenged by people who haven't seen my circuit designs, I have set a new goal. I now intend to store ONE HUNDRED BILLION VOLTS of DC electricity, using a single lightning bolt as my power source. And no, I still won't be breaking any laws, including Ohm's.

Vaya con Dios,

Benny F:cool: (a pseudonym)


http://l.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/i/mesg/emoticons7/24.gif

Oh God! Tell another one!

BennyF
03-27-10, 12:24 PM
"Oh God! Tell another one!" - Neverfly

OK, I know where to find brand-new capacitors with voltage ratings greater than 20Kv.

See you at the patent office,

Benny

Billy T
03-27-10, 12:52 PM
...OK, I know where to find brand-new capacitors with voltage ratings greater than 20Kv. ...One hundred billion v = 10E11 V and 20KV = 2E4 thus in a series string you will need 10E11/2E4 or 5E7 or 50,000,000 or fifty million of them. What do they coast? Surely more than $100 so you must be very rich to foolishly spend 5 billion dollars on a scheme that will breakdown the air and discharge the stored energy in a few micro seconds.

Actually you will never get it charged up to a million volts before the corona discharge bleeds charge off as fast as you can supply it. (That rate will be limited by the LC time constant of you charging system - why a lightning bolt last for a few milli-seconds.) You know all about corona discharges, do you not?
:roflmao:

BennyF
03-27-10, 01:08 PM
Billy, the fact that lightning voltage only lasts for a fraction of a second simply means that lightning has a high amount of current. I've seen reputable current levels in the tens of thousands of amps, and Nasa reported that a 200 K amp lightning bolt hit a structure on the grounds once.

If you'll remember, I said in an early post that high voltage levels and high current levels were GOOD NEWS, not bad, for anyone that wants to use lightning as a power source.

I meant what I said.

I'm eager to store the energy from my first one terawatt lightning bolt, so that my company office can be electrically self-sufficient for more than a year.:)

Billy T
03-27-10, 01:19 PM
... I'm eager to store the energy from my first one terawatt lightning bolt, so that my company office can be electrically self-sufficient for more than a year.:)Terawatts are no more a measure of energy than volts are, but you have shown you do not want to learn so I will not waste more time.

Some poster already gave the energy of a typical lightning bolt and noted it is dissipated over the entire length of the bolt, not just near the ground where some could be collected. Energy you can collect is very tiny fraction of the total -perhaps $1 worth from the power company. Your office must be very efficient (and dark at night) if your annual electric bill is only one dollar.

BennyF
03-27-10, 01:32 PM
Ask not what your lightning-supplied electric utility company can do for you.

Ask what you can do for your lightning-supplied electric utility company, the one that is turning water into hydrogen and oxygen on the side.

MacGyver1968
03-27-10, 01:45 PM
What do you plan on doing during the winter...when electrical storms don't occur? (very often)

BennyF
03-27-10, 01:59 PM
One lightning bolt, processed properly by my collection and storage equipment, will supply electricity to my office and my electrolyzer. Before the voltage has been drained, another storm will come by and supply more voltage.

Please don't try to tell me that you've seen my circuit diagrams, and please don't tell me that there isn't enough juice in lightning to make collection worthwhile.

I know that most of the energy is dissipated in the air. I know that most of the lightning bolts travel from one cloud to another one. I know that people have been searching for two centuries for a method of storing that much electricity.

I also know that the spot where a lightning bolt hits becomes four times hotter than the surface of the sun. This is why lightning can and does start forest fires, including one in June of 2008 that scorched most of a wildlife reservation in North Carolina. Do you really think that this kind of energy isn't worth collecting??

Oh, please permit me to repeat myself, simply for the sake of emphasis. Any lightning bolt that hits my collection equipment won't hit anywhere else.

DO YOU REALLY THINK THAT WHAT I'M DOING ISN'T WORTHWHILE ??

BennyF
03-27-10, 02:13 PM
I'm trying to save the dozens of lives that are snuffed out by direct hits with lightning bolts. I'm trying to save the property that gets damaged by lightning. I'm trying to prevent firefighter resources from being mobilized on short notice and without enough food and water being given to them when they arrive at the scene of a wildfire. I'm trying to prevent the residue of fire-retardant chemicals from blighting our landscape.

I'm also trying to reduce the need for more fossil fuels to be dug up or imported, just to supply the energy that turns turbines that generate electricity for the grid. If one lightning bolt can keep my office going AND turn water into hydrogen and oxygen at a low cost, then I'm going to do it, and if nobody else knows how to process lightning, then you all can keep asking me for my circuit diagrams, and you all can keep on guessing, because it'll be MY name on the patent application, not yours.

BennyF
03-27-10, 02:33 PM
Hey MacGyver, lightning hits Toronto's CN tower over twenty times every year. Just how warm do you think their summer is?

And just how difficult is it really to collect 100-500Mv from a single lightning bolt, turn that into a hundred billion volts, and store it in a capacitor-based system?

Gee, it must be terribly difficult. Nobody's been able to do it since Mr. Franklin flew his kits.

Then again, nobody thought in 1950 that less than twenty years later, a man would be standing on the moon and brought back to earth safely.

BennyF
03-27-10, 02:54 PM
Hey, does anybody want to save 80-100 lives every year? Does anybody want to prevent forest fires, except the ones set on purpose by the US Government to reduce the amount of deadwood? Does anybody want to save the animals that are killed by lightning-sparked wildfires?

Fine. That part is easy. Set up some grounded lightning rods in the eastern half of the country, especially in northern Florida, and tell all the air-traffic controllers where they are, so that airplanes and helicopters won't bump into them. Every time a bolt hits the tower, the voltage will be grounded.

And therefore wasted.





I want more. Much more. I want a hundred billion volts to be stored in my equipment, ready to be directed through an electrolyzer and into a DC-AC inverter.

And I'm not going to rest until I get them.

MacGyver1968
03-27-10, 05:41 PM
Hey MacGyver, lightning hits Toronto's CN tower over twenty times every year. Just how warm do you think their summer is?

And just how difficult is it really to collect 100-500Mv from a single lightning bolt, turn that into a hundred billion volts, and store it in a capacitor-based system?

Gee, it must be terribly difficult. Nobody's been able to do it since Mr. Franklin flew his kits.

Then again, nobody thought in 1950 that less than twenty years later, a man would be standing on the moon and brought back to earth safely.

Well Benny, you didn't answer my question. To answer your's...Toronto sees temperatures in the 70's and 80's during the summer, about the same we see here in Dallas in the early Spring.

In most places, electrical storms just don't occur during the winter months. There just isn't enough energy in the atmosphere in the form of heat for the storms to form. Depending on where you live, that's 3 (Dallas) to 6 (Ohio) months of the year that your system will sit idle. What do you plan on doing during the winter months?

I'm not trying to be a "nay-sayer". I like conceptualizing new ideas too. The first thing I do with any new idea is run a "feasibility study". I welcome others to point out potential problems in my ideas, because I may not have thought of everything. You don't seem to want to hear any problems your idea might have.

Captain Kremmen
03-28-10, 06:56 AM
Bye Benny.


Here's another quote from wiki.
The terawatt is equal to one trillion watts. The total power used by humans worldwide (about 16 TW in 2006) is commonly measured in this unit. The most powerful lasers from the mid-1960s to the mid-1990s produced power in terawatts, but only for nanosecond time frames. The average stroke of lightning peaks at 1 terawatt, but these strokes only last for 30 microseconds.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terawatt#Multiples

@Nasor, how does that compare in energy output with the previous calculation?


Nasor isn't around at the moment, so I'll attempt the calculation myself.
Please double check my figures.

A Terawatt is 1,000,000,000,000 Watts.
1 microsecond is 1/1,000,000 of a second.

There are 3600 seconds in an hour.

So the number of kilowatt hours in 1millisecond of the lightning is
(1,000,000,000,000)/ (3600 times 1,000,000)
= 277.8 Kwh

and in 30 milliseconds
=8333 Kwh

Even if you cut that down to allow for the Terawatt being peak wattage, say we half it, making 4150 Kwh, that's considerably more than was calculated before.



Benny, your calculations would be right if the life of a lightning bolt wasn't so short.
If it lasted for an hour, and you could capture the energy, you would have a tremendous store of power.
But it doesn't. It lasts for 30 microseconds.

If a lightning bolt contained as much energy as you think it does, it wouldn't just blow trees apart by turning their sap to steam, it would vaporise them.

Also, look at a typical lightning conductor. Do you think that a half inch thick copper wire could carry the current you are talking about?
Here's a table of wire gauges: http://www.powerstream.com/Wire_Size.htm


Carry on if you wish, but I think that people are losing patience with you.

Billy T
03-28-10, 10:31 AM
... If a lightning bolt contained as much energy as you think it does, it wouldn't just blow trees apart by turning their sap to steam, it would vaporize them. ...Occasionally a lightning bolt will blast a piece of a tree free from the trunk and it does so as you state. I.e. it heats a few ounces of sap (basically water) up to the boiling point or a little higher. Also if it hits a brick chimney which has soaked up a few ounces of rain water inside the bricks they too can be exploded by internal steam pressure.

It takes very little energy to do this as both bricks and trees are quite weak against forces of tension. - They have great compressive strength but cannot withstand much "hoop stress" transverse to the direction of their strength. This is why a well swung axe can split up fire wood if the fibers of the wood are all parallel, as in tulip popular, but if there is considerable internal crossing of fiber direction as in oak, then there is no easy splitting direction. Oak trees rarely if ever explode out a piece when hit by lightning - The required energy is just not there.

------------------------------

BennyF has two very obvious problems which he ignores:
(1) There is a most $10 worth* of electric energy in a lighting bolt and they come to his extremely expensive (hundreds of millions of dollars for the high voltage capacitor string that could store even 1% of the energy in a lightning bolt ) apparatus infrequently. I.e. not attractive economically even if it would work.

(2) The lightning bolt is the discharge thru air dielectric of the natural cloud/ earth electrode capacitor. If Benny F were to immerse his high voltage capacitor storage system in high strength dielectric oil, then the separation between his zero potential plate / wires and his very high voltage plate /wires could be perhaps 10 to 20 times smaller than the separation between the earth and the clouds (which was not enough to avoid dielectric breakdown – i.e. the lightning bolt.) As BennyF intends to step up the voltage to be much greater that the voltage of the lightning bolt, his high voltage terminal or plate would need to be outside the atmosphere where the low earth orbit satellites pass.

SUMMARY: Benny F has no understanding of the electric break down problems of voltage differences associated with his 100 billion volt storage system.
(I am not sure as I have not attempted to calculate and one needs to understand field emission capacity of the moon’s non-metallic surface, but I suspect that it is adequate when Solar UV is shining on it to cause self expanding leader that would allow 100 billion volts to arc between the Earth and the Moon. Certainly 100 billion volts could arc from earth to a low orbit satellite when its metal surface is in sunlight. - Photo electric effect starts the arc leader.)

Benny F also has no understanding of how little value is the energy in a very strong lightning bolt or that his high voltage storage system (at voltage V) is more expensive than the low voltage (at voltage v) storing the same energy by the ratio of V/v. (Actually much more when the cost of the required dielectric oil is included.)

For example a 12v system storing the same energy as only a 120 million (not billion) V system is ten million times cheaper. Benny is speaking of a 100 BILLION volt system which if compared to a 10v storage system is 10 billion times more expensive. (This is not counting the huge volume of dielectric oil it would require.) He has no idea how big that oil tank would be to avoid electrical break down – roughly speaking, the base would be larger than Manhattan Island and the altitude would be more than 10,000 meters tall. – That is a lot of very pure, highly-refined (or synthetic) very expensive oil (at least $50/ gallon, if it can be bought in railroad tank car volumes).

----------
*Benny intends to compete with power companies - undersell them so people would disconnect from the grid. Thus the relevant value is that which the power company will sell the same energy for. When BennyF understands how huge his system must be, just the cost of the real estate it sits on near a city would put him out of business, even if every thing else were free. (BennyF's system has very low energy density compared to a conventional power plant.)

MacGyver1968
03-28-10, 11:33 AM
BillyT,

It's amazing the things you can learn here... Just so I'm clear on what dielectric breakdown is:

Let's imagine we have two electrodes, separated by a few inches of air. One is connected to a variable voltage source, the other to ground. We start out with 0v and slowly increase the voltage. As the voltage increases and gets into the kV range, it will eventually reach a point where the potential is great enough arc across the few inches air, and ZAP! it discharges. Is that what dielectric breakdown is?

That's the reason they use a whole stack of bell insulators to suspend HV power lines from their towers...to keep the HV from arcing from the line to the tower. Is what you are saying in #82 is you would need a stack of bell insulators that extend out into space in order to prevent accidental arcing to ground with 100 billion volts?

Billy T
03-28-10, 01:54 PM
BillyT,

It's amazing the things you can learn here... Just so I'm clear on what dielectric breakdown is:

Let's imagine we have two electrodes, separated by a few inches of air. One is connected to a variable voltage source, the other to ground. We start out with 0v and slowly increase the voltage. As the voltage increases and gets into the kV range, it will eventually reach a point where the potential is great enough arc across the few inches air, and ZAP! it discharges. Is that what dielectric breakdown is?Yes, in this case the dielectric is air. The voltage at which break down occurs, for a fixed air gap will depend on the impurities in the air, normally the moisture (water vapor), the temperature and the pressure. There is a minimum voltage called the Pashion voltage (not sure of spelling and think it is for a 1cm gap) for each gas when the pressure is at the Pashion pressure (much lower than atmospheric). Here it the physics of why:

There are always a few free electrons in any gas. They are accelerated by the electric field between the plates. At high pressures like atmospheric the travel tiny fraction of a mm be for hitting a molecule, and losing most of the energy they gained by "falling thru" a little part of the field. Then they accelerate again (if they did not attach to the molecule they hit, making it into an ion which being much heavier hardly gets any energy from the field)

When the pressure is lower, these electron travel greater distances before they make a collision so gain more energy from the field. For an arc to form, the number of electrons that gain enough energy to impact ionize a neutral molecule prior to their next collision must slightly exceed the number that get attached to the molecule they hit. When this is the case, the number of free electrons rapidly increases and the gas becomes a plasma, which being a good conductor of electricity "shorts out" the voltage between the plates.

If the pressure gets quite low, then the typical free electron will travel all the way from where it was to the positive plate and not ionizes any gas molecules on the way. Thus it is lost and the number of electrons does not increase to make a plasma /arc. That is why for each gas and electrode separation there is one pressure where the arc can form with the least voltage applied - I.e. the Pashion pressure for that gas.
That's the reason they use a whole stack of bell insulators to suspend HV power lines from their towers...to keep the HV from arcing from the line to the tower. Is what you are saying in #82 is you would need a stack of bell insulators that extend out into space in order to prevent accidental arcing to ground with 100 billion volts? basically yes, but note the surface path over the "bell insulators"is by design much greater than the only in the air path as these surfaces get wet and dirty and when dirty are better conductors than air.

If you are dealing with very high voltages, this simple approach probably will fail because part of the long Bell insulator structure will be a better conductor than the rest. The tiny "trickle" or "leakage " current passing over that section with less resistance will have less voltage drop so more of the voltage total drop will appear across the remaining section of the long bell insulator. Imagine there are two section to it with leakage current I passing thru both of course: V---Ir ----IR --- 0 volts. Most of the full voltage V will appear across the greater resistance, R, section and arc around it or thru it. To solve this problem, one uses a little of the energy to establish a "voltage divider current" which makes the voltage drop per unit length of insulator nearly uniform. In BennyF's miles long insulators supporting the huge voltage difference he would need to constantly be draining some energy in this voltage divider to keep all 100 meter sections with approximate the same voltage drop along their length.

Also there is a very serious problem for him at the atmospheric altitude where the ambient pressure is equal to the Pashion pressure. Breakdown will easily start there and rapidly spread thru the entire separation of his voltage shorting out his "stored voltage." He has many other fatal problems, but the two I listed are easier to understand. One important other is the corona discharge, which never grows into a full arc. Even power lines lose energy to it at voltage a million times lower than BennyF is talking about. If you can look at a high voltage power line on a dark moonless night with little wind you may see the faint bluish glow of their corona discharge. Corona loses is the reason why most high voltage power lines have four parallel, closely spaced, wires. They fight the corona discharge losses, as it is the electric field that is reduced by four wires. This field is what starts the corona.

Captain Kremmen
03-28-10, 02:27 PM
I can't see lightning replacing power stations, but neither is the energy negligible.

Heres another quote from wiki

The largest-scale sparks are those produced naturally by lightning. An average bolt of negative lightning carries a current of 30 to 50 kiloamperes, transfers a charge of 5 coulombs, and dissipates 500 megajoules of energy (enough to light a 100 watt light bulb for 2 months). However, an average bolt of positive lightning (from the top of a thunderstorm) may carry a current of 300 to 500 kiloamperes, transfer a charge of up to 300 coulombs, have a potential difference up to 1 gigavolt (a billion volts), and may dissipate enough energy to light a 100 watt light bulb for up to 95 years. A negative lightning stroke typically lasts for only tens of microseconds, but multiple strikes are common. A positive lightning stroke is typically a single event. However, the larger peak current may flow for hundreds of milliseconds, making it considerably hotter and more dangerous than negative lightning.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_voltage#Lightning

I may work this out in Kwh later.
I bet it's different again:)

Billy T
03-28-10, 03:10 PM
I can't see lightning replacing power stations, but neither is the energy negligible. ...The energy in the 100 meters near the ground is only a tiny fraction of the total. If you had a 100 meter tall high voltage capacitor sitting on the ground, it would not get any significant charge even if there is a ten meter copper rod sticking up from the top AND the lightning bolt hits top of that rod. When it reaches the bottom of the rod, the lighting current path will just jump back into the air, by passing the condenser. Here is proof:

My first "adult job" at about age 13 was as a transmitter engineer for radio WCHS. It required a first class commercial broadcast license. My MD father had the Chief Engineer of WCHS as his patient and he knew I was already a "HAM" (Armature radio operator, W8ijm). He had a problem every summer as had only four adult engineers and that is not enough to man the station 24/7 when one is on two or three week vacation, so he told me and my dad that if I could get licensed, he would pay me same wage as them to fill in for guy on vacation. I studied and passed the FCC's test on first try (many do not). - I may have been the youngest to ever do so.

It is a very boring job with little to do, but read a book, but I often would watch lightning hit one of WCHS's three towers. It would typically invisibly travel down a section of guy wire but arc over the insulators that keep the total guy wire length much shorter that the radiated radiation. Quite often, after it had jumped an insulating spacer, it would continue in the air for many feet before getting back onto the wire.

If lighting, once in the air plasma it has made, will often not even return to a nearby parallel wire,* there is no way any of its current would flow into the capacitor with dielectric spacers between the plates instead of a conducting wire.

-------------
*the plasma can be a better conductor once formed.

Captain Kremmen
03-28-10, 06:00 PM
There are some scam companies offering this as an investment.
Look at this:


Lucky me, I just got an email about an investment opportunity in some renewable energy!

DEAR SIR
GREETINGS
LOGIC-CO IS AN ENVIRONMENTAL COMPANY HAS RENEWABLE ENERGY: ELECTRICITY.EXTRACTED FROM THE LIGHTNING:
THE RATE OF LIGHTNING IS 100 FLASH PER SECOND ALLOVER THE GLOBE. IF USA HAS 1% OF THE TOTAL FLASHES THIS MEANS 1 FLASH PER SECOND. FOR YOUR KNOWLEDGE, ONE FLASH = 4 STROKES. EACH STROKE HAS (10)^12 WATT.
THIS MEANS : WHEN LOGIC-CO SUCCEEDS TO GET ONE FLASH ,AND TRANSFORM IT TO ELECTRICITY == THAT IS EQUAL TO A POWER STATION 0F 20 MW WORKS FOR 50 HOURS CONTINOUSELY. IMAGEN IF WE COULD TRANSFORM ONE FLASH PER MINIUTE ALLOVER USA.
IN THAT TIME NO NEED FOR ANY FUEL COMBUSTION THAT POLLUTES THE ENVIRONMENT. NOW LOGIC-CO IS SEEKING A PARTENER IN USA TO CLEAN THE ENVIRONMENT, PRODUCING FRIENDLY ENVIRO-ELECTRICITY.

DEAR SIR,
IF YOU ARE INTERESTING, PLEASE, DON’T HESITATE TO E-MAIL LOGIC- CO:
E-MAIL: XXXXX@hotmail.com
XXXXXX@yahoo.ca
MAIN OFFICE:
6TH B BAHST BADIA ST(SAUDIA BUILDINGS)
SHOBRA 11241
CAIRO
EGYPT

http://www.thegoodhuman.com/2007/12/04/investment-opportunity-inelectricity-extracted-from-the-lightning/

Benny. Be Quick. This could be a lifetime opportunity.

Nasor
03-29-10, 08:59 AM
One lightning bolt, processed properly by my collection and storage equipment, will supply electricity to my office and my electrolyzer. Before the voltage has been drained, another storm will come by and supply more voltage.
Please tell us how long (in minutes, hours, whatever) you think one bolt will power your office, and explain how you arrived at your figure. I'm don't want any details on how your system works, I just want to know how much energy you think you will capture and how long you think it will let you power an office. How many kw hours does your office currently use in a month? Or, if you don't actually have an office yet, how many kw hours would you anticipate it using?

I want more. Much more. I want a hundred billion volts to be stored in my equipment, ready to be directed through an electrolyzer and into a DC-AC inverter.
Again, what is the advantage of raising the voltage so high? That's waaaaay more voltage than it takes to operate any sort of office equipment or run an electrolysizer. I asked you about this before, but you never answered.

BennyF
03-29-10, 09:04 AM
Folks, it was never my intention to compete with established electric utilities for their customers. I simply know that the DC electricity I can collect from an average lightning bolt will be enough to allow me to disconnect my own office from the grid.

The reason why I'm not trying to compete with the utllity companies is because there are better profits to be made from the sale of hydrogen and oxygen than from being a regulated utility company, especially in these times, when my uncle is getting vicarious thrills from looking over my shoulder way too often.

I've given the reasons why I'm pursuing my goals. I've given some facts and figures on the voltage and current, both measured at the ground. I've told you that I won't be violating any laws, including Ohm's. I've told you that my storage system will be capacitor-based. Finally, I've told you that my diagrams are so simple, the Patent Examiners will be able to understand them quite quickly.

In spite of all this, I'm still amazed by two things:

1. Nobody (I said NOBODY) has been able to generate a single volt, using a lightning bolt as his source, and

2. The DOE, which spends a lot of money keeping track of current research in energy sources and uses, doesn't even try to sponsor basic research into turning hundreds of millions of volts of DC electricity (per lightning bolt) into something useful.

Believe me, I've searched the relevant patent literature (at the USPTO website), looking hard for any sign of a method of converting lightning bolts into any other form of energy. I haven't found it yet.

Nasor
03-29-10, 09:06 AM
Occasionally a lightning bolt will blast a piece of a tree free from the trunk and it does so as you state. I.e. it heats a few ounces of sap (basically water) up to the boiling point or a little higher. Also if it hits a brick chimney which has soaked up a few ounces of rain water inside the bricks they too can be exploded by internal steam pressure.
Sure, but if lightning delivered as much energy as BennyF seems to think, it would cause fantastic damage when it struck. 500 MJ is equivalent to about 100 kg of TNT. It wouldn't just be blowing chunks off trees and damaging chimneys, it would be leveling houses and leaving big smoking craters in the ground where it struck.

Nasor
03-29-10, 09:10 AM
I've given the reasons why I'm pursuing my goals.One of your main goals seems to be increasing the voltage from hundreds of millions of volts up to many billions of volts, and so far as I know you have not explained why you want to do that. The voltage is already far more than is necessary to power anything. Why raise it even higher? You'll just need to bring it back down again before you actually use it for anything.

MacGyver1968
03-29-10, 09:33 AM
Just for reference....my tiny studio apt. uses about 500kw/h a month.

I read somewhere that 90% of the energy contained in a lightning bolt is converted to heat.

Let's see if I can figure the math:

1 joule= 1 watt/sec

500MJ = 500MW/sec = 138.8Kw/h

Assuming my 90% figure is right: 138.8KW/h X .1 = 13.8 KW/h

So it would take something like 36 500MJ lightning strikes a month to power my apt.

That also assumes an "ideal" circuit with no losses.

Is my math right?

BennyF
03-29-10, 09:50 AM
Nasor, this is in reply to your specific questions, and some specific questions/concerns of others.

First, the physics. According to Ohm's law, if the voltage level in a circuit is raised by a factor of 2, the value of either the current or the resistance must be halved. Okay so far? As a practical example, I said I could multiply the voltage collected from a lightning bolt. I can't change the voltage in the bolt, but I can multiply the STORED voltage if I decrease the current or the resistance in my collection and storage equipment, and that's exactly what I intend to do, all using the strict principles of Ohm's Law, which I respect and will not violate. THAT is what will allow me to store a hundred billion volts of DC electricity.

Second, I haven't applied for my patent yet, and I won't set up an office until I get one, assuming that the Patent Office decides that my application is good enough.

Third, I don't trust any statistic that comes from a website like Wiki, which allows the public to edit an entry themselves. Once the sci forums webmasters allow me to post links (I'm still a newbie, on probation), I'll show you the websites where I got my lightning voltage and current levels from.

Fourth, the economics are better than some people realize. Bloomberg has a website that reports daily on the market prices for electricity. The current market price is $30-$40 per megawatt-hour. The cost of the electiricity is the primary reason why few people are turning water into hydrogen and oxygen now. but a hundred billion volts of stored DC can turn a lot of water into a lot of hydrogen and a lot of oxygen. Those are the economic stats that I love seeing.

Fifth, the question was raised about the electricity usage in my (future) office. The high-wattage DC-AC inverters I plan on using aren't 100% efficient. I expect to lose some of the voltage in the conversion process. I haven't seen any estimates of the efficiency, but I expect to modify the circuit anyway, because I will be inputting a voltage level somewhat higher than the 12v they expect. Not a hundred billion volts, either, but something inbetween. I know how to step down the voltage before I send it into the inverter anyway. Nevertheless, a hundred million volts (one tenth of one percent of what I store) would still produce tens of millions of volts of AC electricity, and that should be plenty for any office I need.

Finally, some of you seem to be surprised at the extremely high voltage levels I intend to store and work with. There will be safeguards to prevent accidental discharges and electric shock to the technicians. The equipment isn't a building-sized capacitor anyway, and I'll have my chief engineer have a long talk with the local inspectors before I buy the equipment.

To answer a specific question that a number of people have asked, the reason why I want to store a large amount of voltage in one place is simply because it would take hundreds of millions of two-volt one-farad "supercapacitors" to store all the voltage in one bolt, never mind the voltage that I can get if I apply Ohm's Law the right way.

I just wanted you to know that I'm still working on this problem, even if I'm not posting.

My best to all,

Benny

MacGyver1968
03-29-10, 10:05 AM
Nasor, this is in reply to your specific questions, and some specific questions/concerns of others.

First, the physics. According to Ohm's law, if the voltage level in a circuit is raised by a factor of 2, the value of either the current or the resistance must be halved. Okay so far? As a practical example, I said I could multiply the voltage collected from a lightning bolt. I can't change the voltage in the bolt, but I can multiply the STORED voltage if I decrease the current or the resistance in my collection and storage equipment, and that's exactly what I intend to do, all using the strict principles of Ohm's Law, which I respect and will not violate. THAT is what will allow me to store a hundred billion volts of DC electricity.

Second, I haven't applied for my patent yet, and I won't set up an office until I get one, assuming that the Patent Office decides that my application is good enough.

Third, I don't trust any statistic that comes from a website like Wiki, which allows the public to edit an entry themselves. Once the sci forums webmasters allow me to post links (I'm still a newbie, on probation), I'll show you the websites where I got my lightning voltage and current levels from.

Fourth, the economics are better than some people realize. Bloomberg has a website that reports daily on the market prices for electricity. The current market price is $30-$40 per megawatt-hour. The cost of the electiricity is the primary reason why few people are turning water into hydrogen and oxygen now. but a hundred billion volts of stored DC can turn a lot of water into a lot of hydrogen and a lot of oxygen. Those are the economic stats that I love seeing.

Fifth, the question was raised about the electricity usage in my (future) office. The high-wattage DC-AC inverters I plan on using aren't 100% efficient. I expect to lose some of the voltage in the conversion process. I haven't seen any estimates of the efficiency, but I expect to modify the circuit anyway, because I will be inputting a voltage level somewhat higher than the 12v they expect. Not a hundred billion volts, either, but something inbetween. I know how to step down the voltage before I send it into the inverter anyway. Nevertheless, a hundred million volts (one tenth of one percent of what I store) would still produce tens of millions of volts of AC electricity, and that should be plenty for any office I need.

Finally, some of you seem to be surprised at the extremely high voltage levels I intend to store and work with. There will be safeguards to prevent accidental discharges and electric shock to the technicians. The equipment isn't a building-sized capacitor anyway, and I'll have my chief engineer have a long talk with the local inspectors before I buy the equipment.

To answer a specific question that a number of people have asked, the reason why I want to store a large amount of voltage in one place is simply because it would take hundreds of millions of two-volt one-farad "supercapacitors" to store all the voltage in one bolt, never mind the voltage that I can get if I apply Ohm's Law the right way.

I just wanted you to know that I'm still working on this problem, even if I'm not posting.

My best to all,

Benny

This is what is confusing everyone. Why would you increase the incoming voltage, only to turn around and step it back down? P=IV. Power stays the same. By doing this you would only increase the loss by performing a completely unnecessary step. Please explain why you would want to take a 100 MV charge, (which is hard enough to work with) and step it up to 100 GV, (which would be even harder to work with) only to turn around and step it down to 12/24v? That doesn't make any sense to me.


Third, I don't trust any statistic that comes from a website like Wiki, which allows the public to edit an entry themselves. Once the sci forums webmasters allow me to post links (I'm still a newbie, on probation), I'll show you the websites where I got my lightning voltage and current levels from

Just post the URL as text, and change the "http:" part to "htt" or something like that, and I will repost the link for you.

BennyF
03-29-10, 10:40 AM
MacGyver, the current levels I've seen for lightning are very high, and the equipment I want to use, including the basic wiring for the circuits, may not be able to handle it, so when I was designing my circuits, I decided to bring down the current by increasing the voltage. Ohm's Law.




Here are some websites, modified as you suggested, with "htt":

Georgia State University
(lightning voltage, current, event sequence, and destructive ability)
htt://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/electric/lightning2.html




DOE's list of energy sources (no mention of lightning)
htt://www.doe.gov/energysources/index.htm




DOE's mission statement on Hydrogen:

"Hydrogen is a clean energy carrier (like electricity) made from diverse domestic resources such as renewable energy (e.g. solar, wind, geothermal), nuclear energy, and fossil energy (combined with carbon capture/sequestration). Hydrogen in the long-term will simultaneously reduce dependence on foreign oil and emissions of greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants."

htt://www.doe.gov/energysources/hydrogen.htm




Georgia State University, on electrolysis and fuel cells:
htt://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/Hbase/thermo/electrol.html




A 2004 NREL study on H2 generation by water electrolysis:
htt://www1.eere.energy.gov/hydrogenandfuelcells/pdfs/euiw_3_doe_utility.pdf




Bloomberg prices for electricity:
htt://www.bloomberg.com/energy/




The Weather Channel, looking continuously for lightning all around the country:
(HTML format)
htt://www.weather.com/maps/activity/golf/uslightningstrikes_large.html
(graphic only)
htt://image.weather.com/images/maps/severe/map_light_ltst_4namus_enus_600x405.jpg





A specialized radar-type scan of the area around Jacksonville, Florida, looking specifically and continuously for lightning strikes:
(Note: This web page is limited to the graphic only. That's how I look at it, and that's how I save it on my home computer.)
htt://arlingtonweather.net/weather/lightning.png




This is a start. The idea for storing voltage from lightning came to me well over three years ago, and I've been researching it ever since.

MacGyver1968
03-29-10, 10:50 AM
MacGyver, the current levels I've seen for lightning are very high, and the equipment I want to use, including the basic wiring for the circuits, may not be able to handle it, so when I was designing my circuits, I decided to bring down the current by increasing the voltage. Ohm's Law.




Here are some websites, modified as you suggested, with "htt":

Georgia State University
(lightning voltage, current, event sequence, and destructive ability)
htt://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/electric/lightning2.html




DOE's list of energy sources (no mention of lightning)
htt://www.doe.gov/energysources/index.htm




DOE's mission statement on Hydrogen:

Hydrogen is a clean energy carrier (like electricity) made from diverse domestic resources such as renewable energy (e.g. solar, wind, geothermal), nuclear energy, and fossil energy (combined with carbon capture/sequestration). Hydrogen in the long-term will simultaneously reduce dependence on foreign oil and emissions of greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants."

htt://www.doe.gov/energysources/hydrogen.htm




Georgia State University, on electrolysis and fuel cells:
htt://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/Hbase/thermo/electrol.html




A 2004 NREL study on H2 generation by water electrolys:
htt://www1.eere.energy.gov/hydrogenandfuelcells/pdfs/euiw_3_doe_utility.pdf




Bloomberg prices for electricity:
htt://www.bloomberg.com/energy/




The Weather Channel, looking continuously for lightning all around the country:
(HTML format)
htt://www.weather.com/maps/activity/golf/uslightningstrikes_large.html
(graphic only)
htt://image.weather.com/images/maps/severe/map_light_ltst_4namus_enus_600x405.jpg





A specialized radar-type can of the area around Jacksonville, Florida, looking specifically and continuously for lightning strikes:
(Note: This web page is limited to the graphic only. That's how I look at it, and that's how I save it on my home computer.)
htt://arlingtonweather.net/weather/lightning.png




This is a start. The idea for storing voltage from lightning came to me well over three years ago, and I've been researching it ever since.


Here's your link for you:

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/electric/lightning2.html

http://www.doe.gov/energysources/index.htm

http://www.doe.gov/energysources/hydrogen.htm

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/Hbase/thermo/electrol.html

http://www1.eere.energy.gov/hydrogenandfuelcells/pdfs/euiw_3_doe_utility.pdf

http://www.bloomberg.com/energy/

http://www.weather.com/maps/activity/golf/uslightningstrikes_large.html

http://image.weather.com/images/maps/severe/map_light_ltst_4namus_enus_600x405.jpg

http://arlingtonweather.net/weather/lightning.png

BennyF
03-29-10, 11:29 AM
Thanks, MacGyver. Here are some more links.

The National Weather Service, saying that lightning is "An underrated killer".
htt://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/overview.htm


The National Weather Service, giving some scientific facts on lightning.
htt://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/science.htm


Medical statistics on lightning injuries from the NWS.
htt://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/medical.htm


Lightning killed a Florida man last June as he was mowing his lawn.
htt://www.gainesville.com/article/20090609/ARTICLES/906099989?Title=South-Florida-landscaper-killed-by-lightning


Lightning killed a 12-year-old boy playing Little League Baseball in Virginia.
htt://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,525144,00.html


Brief stories about lightning deaths and injuries from the National Lightning Safety Institute.
http://www.lightningsafety.com/nlsi_lls/incidents.html


Photo of a (used) 100 KV capacitor for sale to the public. Note the 3,700 Joule rating, probably only rated this much when it was brand-new.
htt://theelectrostore.com/shopsite_sc/store/html/capacitor-energy-discharge-px480d60.html


The United States Geological Survey, saying that wildfires are a "growing national threat". Some wildfires are caused by lightning, you know, including one in June 2008 that severely damaged a National Wildlife Reserve in North Carolina.
htt://www.usgs.gov/hazards/wildfires/


Like I said, I've been researching this for well over three years.

Benny

MacGyver1968
03-29-10, 11:35 AM
[FONT="Verdana"][SIZE="2"]MacGyver, the current levels I've seen for lightning are very high, and the equipment I want to use, including the basic wiring for the circuits, may not be able to handle it, so when I was designing my circuits, I decided to bring down the current by increasing the voltage. Ohm's Law.


Well...if high current is the only reason your are stepping up the voltage, then you are solving a minor problem by creating a major one...if it even solves it at all. You still have to bring that voltage back down to power your inverters, so you're back square one with your current. Plus, there are far easier ways of handling high current...like a current divider.

High voltage is much much harder, and more expensive to work with than high current, because of arcing. Trying to keep a circuit isolated with the voltages you are talking about would require vastly more engineering and cost. High current only requires beefier components and wire, or multiple parallel branches of components to spread the current out.

Edit:

Photo of a (used) 100 KV capacitor for sale to the public. Note the 3,700 Joule rating, probably only rated this much when it was brand-new.
http://theelectrostore.com/shopsite_sc/store/html/capacitor-energy-discharge-px480d60.html


You would need 135,000 of those to store 500MJ. That's $26 million. For the same money you could by 50,000 500W solar panels. That's 25 MW on any sunny day! You could run not only your own business, but everyone else's for miles around.

BennyF
03-29-10, 11:41 AM
MacGyver, I don't trust any of the methods of preserving my invention until it's been patented. I've seen too many courtroom surprises with my own eyes.

I've heard that the best way to keep a secret is to not tell anybody what it is. Please forgive me if I don't tell an online message board how I intend to deal with 100-500 million peak volts and 100,000 peak amps.

Vaya con Dios,

Benny

Nasor
03-29-10, 11:51 AM
The cost of the electiricity is the primary reason why few people are turning water into hydrogen and oxygen now. but a hundred billion volts of stored DC can turn a lot of water into a lot of hydrogen and a lot of oxygen.
See, statements like these are the reason people here keep saying you don't seem to know the difference between energy and voltage. Simply knowing a voltage doesn't tell you ANYTHING about how much water you can turn into hydrogen and oxygen. If you have a hundred billion volt power source to work with, you might be able to turn an entire ocean into hydrogen and oxygen, or you might not be able to turn a single drop of water into hydrogen and oxygen. Simply stating a voltage doesn't tell you anything.

Finally, some of you seem to be surprised at the extremely high voltage levels I intend to store and work with. There will be safeguards to prevent accidental discharges and electric shock to the technicians. The equipment isn't a building-sized capacitor anyway, and I'll have my chief engineer have a long talk with the local inspectors before I buy the equipment.
Well, 100 billion volts is enough to jump a spark through something like 300 miles of air...Do you understand how to calculate what dielectric thickness will be needed for a given voltage? You say that your storage mechanism won't be the size of buildings, but unless your invention includes a new material with a dielectric constant far, far higher than anything currently known, it's not clear to me how you could avoid such enormous storage devices.

BennyF
03-29-10, 11:54 AM
Just for the sake of emphasis, I'm going to repeat one point that I made earlier.

If a bolt of lightning hits my collection equipment, it won't hit anywhere else, including twelve-year-old boys playing Little League Baseball. Lightning protection is something that solar panels just can't do.

MacGyver1968
03-29-10, 11:57 AM
MacGyver, I don't trust any of the methods of preserving my invention until it's been patented. I've seen too many courtroom surprises with my own eyes.

I've heard that the best way to keep a secret is to not tell anybody what it is. Please forgive me if I don't tell an online message board how I intend to deal with 100-500 million peak volts and 100,000 peak amps.

Vaya con Dios,

Benny

Again...I could give a rat's ass about your circuit design and patent. Myself and others on this board are just trying to point out the major feasibility problems with your idea. It's great to dream....dreamers fuel innovation, but engineers work in reality. There's a good reason why you don't see lightning collection facilities all over the place...the technology has been around for decades. It's because engineers figured out that the "return on investment" as R.O. referred to earlier in the thread, is not worth it. There are far easier ways to collect renewable energy.

MacGyver1968
03-29-10, 12:04 PM
Just for the sake of emphasis, I'm going to repeat one point that I made earlier.

If a bolt of lightning hits my collection equipment, it won't hit anywhere else, including twelve-year-old boys playing Little League Baseball. Lightning protection is something that solar panels just can't do.

"Appeal to Emotion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_emotion)" logical fallacy noted. Unless your facility is right next to the baseball field, it wouldn't do them any good. Death from lightning strikes is extremely rare. How many people have died from lightning strikes this year in a one mile range around where you live?

Nasor
03-29-10, 12:06 PM
I've heard that the best way to keep a secret is to not tell anybody what it is. Please forgive me if I don't tell an online message board how I intend to deal with 100-500 million peak volts and 100,000 peak amps.
500 million volts? How high to you expect your tower to be? The amount of voltage that you see on your tower will be roughly equal to the ground-to-cloud voltage times your tower's height divided by bolt length. So if the cloud-to-ground voltage is 500 million volts, and the bolt is 2 miles long, and your tower is 1000 feet high, the voltage difference between your tower and ground will be about 500 million * (.2/2) = 50 million volts. You might be able to get up to 100 million volts if you make your tower really, really tall (like "one of the tallest structures in the world" tall), but I don't think you will ever see 500 million. Note that the higher voltage lightning has longer bolts, so as one number gets better for you (the voltage), another gets worse (bolt length).

BennyF
03-29-10, 12:38 PM
Nasor, I've done years of research on this. My four-year anniversary will come this summer. I know that electricity has to travel through water, from one electrode to another, in order to turn it into water. I know that the voltage between the electrodes are important, and I know that the current through the water is important. I'm not a physicist, but please give me credit for some intelligence. The electrolyzer won't be mentioned in my patent application anyway. I intend to patent a method of charging a capacitor that could use lightning as a power source.

My invention will probably go into the Patent Office's class #320, subclass 166. Look it up for yourself.

http://www.uspto.gov/web/patents/classification/uspc320/sched320.htm

Some patents are hidden, and you need a US Govt. security clearance to view them, but I've looked at every single one in this subclass, and there's no sign of any method of using lightning to charge a capacitor.

I can't imagine any reason why a patent for using lightning to charge a capacitor would be classified so that the public can't see it. After all, it's not a design for a nuclear weapon or something, and lightning is still a force that strikes too randomly to be of much use for anything but turning water into hydrogen and oxygen, all of which can be stored in one fixed location somewhere in northern Florida, waiting for the next lightning strike.

Nasor
03-29-10, 12:57 PM
Nasor, I've done years of research on this. My four-year anniversary will come this summer. I know that electricity has to travel through water, from one electrode to another, in order to turn it into water. I know that the voltage between the electrodes are important, and I know that the current through the water is important. I'm not a physicist, but please give me credit for some intelligence.
If that's true, it's perplexing why you would say something like "a hundred billion volts of stored DC can turn a lot of water into a lot of hydrogen and a lot of oxygen," since voltage doesn't tell you how much electrolysis you can perform. It's kind of like saying "A car traveling at 100 mph is fast enough to drive a long distance." Just like speed isn't a measurement of how far you can drive, voltage isn't a measure of how much electrolysis you can do. It's ironic to me that you jumped all over me for having bad spelling, but you don't seem to have any particular regard for using scientific terms correctly.

With a proper catalyst, you only need about 1.3 volts to do electrolysis. Anything over that will only hurt the process by degrading your catalyst and make the process less efficient.

Captain Kremmen
03-29-10, 02:01 PM
If it was the number of Watts that counted, lightning would be a poor source of power when compared with some lasers.

The Nova 100 can be held in a big room and supply peak power of 100 Terawatts 10 times a day.

The Tabletop laser would be even better, outputting a peak of 10 TW every second.

http://www.ph.utexas.edu/~utlasers/images/terawatt/terawatt-diagram.jpg


http://www.ph.utexas.edu/~utlasers/terawatt.php

But it isn't the wattage that counts, its the wattage times the length of time.
In the case of the 100 TW laser, it is 1 nanosecond.
In the case of lightning, it is 30 milliseconds.

The bolt of lightning would provide enough power for the office for hours or weeks,
depending on which figures you use, but notions of almost limitless energy are nonsense.

MacGyver1968
03-29-10, 02:41 PM
Reading about terawatt lasers makes me all tingley inside. (Mac used to work for a major laser manufacture Spectra Physics (http://www.newport.com/Products/Annoucements/Releases/Release.aspx?sec=124&chap=19&id=811)..but in a different division)

Captain Kremmen
03-29-10, 02:54 PM
That 100TW laser acts for a very short time.
It might not be that harmful.
Not sure.

I wouldn't stick my hand in front of it :)

Billy T
03-29-10, 02:55 PM
http://theelectrostore.com/shopsite_sc/store/html/media/capacitors/capacitor_energy_Maxwell100kV_1.jpg
... You would need 135,000 of those to store 500MJ. That's $26 million. For the same money you could by 50,000 500W solar panels. That's 25 MW on any sunny day! You could run not only your own business, but everyone else's for miles around.
This used capacitor is in “fair condition” and costs $195 and weight 225pounds, not counting shipping weight or cost. It is 0.74uF, rated for 100KV. Thus it can store 3,700J = 0.5 QV = 0.5 CV^2.
Note Two things:
(1) The fine grounding wire between the central high voltage post and bolt. It is about three or more inches long.
(2) More importantly, note the white ring that makes the arc path that could be same as grounding wire at least 3 inches long. I.e. for safe operation at 100KV you need about a 3 inch gap between ALL POINTS at the high voltage and ground.

As MacGyerer points out BennyF will need 135,000 in series to store 500MJ at 135 million volts – far less than voltage than BennyF’s “100s of billions of volts”

But let’s assume BennyF starts out more modestly storing only 500MJ at 135E6V in a vertical stack of 135,000 of these capacitors and calculate the air gap space, G, between the top 135E6V terminal and ground. It will be approximately three inches times 135,000 or 33,750 feet or more than 6.35 MILES high!

Benny F is totally ignorant of the breakdown problems, even at only 135 million volts. If he really wanted to work with 135 BILLION volts stored, he would need by simple analysis to keep the high voltage terminal more than 6,350 miles above the ground. More realistic analysis would note that the atmospheric pressure decreases with altitude and passes thru the Pashion pressure minimum so the condenser at that altitude would need to have a much taller white ring (several feet) to prevent it from arcing over.

As noted in earlier post, just to store a billion volts will require the high voltage terminal be outside the atmosphere, well above the orbital altitude of many earth orbiting satellites.

quadraphonics
03-29-10, 03:09 PM
Benny F is totally ignorant of the breakdown problems, even at only 135 million volts. If he really wanted to work with 135 BILLION volts stored, he would need by simple analysis to keep the high voltage terminal more than 6,350 miles above the ground. More realistic analysis would note that the atmospheric pressure decreases with altitude and passes thru the Pashion pressure minimum so the condenser at that altitude would need to have a much taller white ring (several feet) to prevent it from arcing over.

Well... a system like this would presumably operate in dialetric oil, not in open air. Not that such would hold off billions of volts, but still.

And one would hope the storage component would be at lower voltage (and higher charge), and then stepped up to high voltage when (if) needed.

MacGyver1968
03-29-10, 03:16 PM
Just so were clear, Billy...You have 135,000 of these caps in series...while the voltage is split between them...the first cap in the series, compared to ground, is sitting at 135MV potential...so what is keeping THAT amount of potential from just arcing to the ground? It would have to be a SHITLOAD of space...since 135MV of juice was capable of breaching several miles of open air in the initial lightning strike. Is that what you're saying?

(ps...does my math check out in post #92?)

Billy T
03-29-10, 03:29 PM
To BennyF:
You are increditably ignorant of high voltage problems and technology.

Read this wiki article:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marx_generator
It has circuit diagram of the high voltage set up system* I mentioned in post pages back (and in your ignorance of the technology you thought it was my idea).

It mentions that they avoid break down problems by high gas pressure (or an electo-negative gas like SF6). Article also mentions that their spark gap switches can be triggered by reducing the pressure - I.e. coming close to the Pashion minimum breakdown pressure I spoke of in some earlier posts.

If you have the slightest interest in reducing your ignorance, this article can help you. I will explain parts you cannot understand after you show you have done some study of your own first. I like to teach, but only do so if the student wants to learn. Thus far, despite my and many others trying to educate you, you have shown you prefer to remain ignorant.

----------------
*A number of capacitors are charged in parallel to a given voltage, V, and then connected in series.

MacGyver1968
03-29-10, 03:36 PM
Delete for stupidity.

Billy T
03-29-10, 03:41 PM
Just so were clear, Billy...You have 135,000 of these caps in series...while the voltage is split between them...the first cap in the series, compared to ground, is sitting at 135MV potential. ...No. The voltage between the case and the central post of every capacitor cannot exceed 100KV. Thus this "first capacitor" has its case sitting on the ground so it central post is no "hotter" than 100KV wrt gnd.

It's central pole has a horizontal metal platform added to it which is the size of the capacitor base. The second capacitor sits on that platform. I.e. the case of the 2nd C is also at 100KV and the 2nd C's central post is no hotter than 200KV wrt gnd. Etc all the way up the stack. These metal support platforms must be more than 3 inches above the case of the condenser just below. (This is of course just a conceptual arrangement - it would fall over in a wind.)

Sorry I did not check your math.

DRZion
03-29-10, 04:00 PM
Here's a map showing the density of lightning strikes world wide, per square km .
Even if you captured every lightning strike in 1 square km of Florida,which in the US is particularly lightning prone, you would only capture about 40 per year.
The Congo is the world's best place for lightning at 70 per Km squared.

http://geology.com/news/lightning-map.gif

from http://geology.com/articles/lightning-map.shtml

But this is assuming a flat terrain. If one had a tower a mile in the sky, or better yet two towers with conductive wire suspended in between, the amount of lightning strikes could far exceed the average.

If the altitude in congo is of constant height there is no reason why the lightning strikes would become localized (unless in some regions the clouds were closer to the ground, but I think this would be the result of geography as well). If however you provide a bridge for the lightning to the ground you could potentially redirect lightning from a much larger area to that one location. This is assuming charge has greater ease of movement through clouds than through air.

Perhaps instead of measuring the voltage of individual bolts of lightning it would be more convincing to obtain the potential of storm clouds. You could aim for draining entire clouds rather than just single bolts.

Also, I don't see why you it has to be a capacitor that would store this energy - like Benny mentioned earlier it could be a substance with a high specific heat.

MacGyver1968
03-29-10, 04:10 PM
I'm still not understanding why Benny wouldn't be using caps like these:

http://img.directindustry.com/images_di/photo-g/high-voltage-capacitor-344802.jpg

They are far better designed for the task. Using multiple branches to distrubute the voltage and current ..but yeah...I'm just a technitian. :)

Captain Kremmen
03-29-10, 04:25 PM
Perhaps instead of measuring the voltage of individual bolts of lightning it would be more convincing to obtain the potential of storm clouds. You could aim for draining entire clouds rather than just single bolts.


I agree. The energy in a whole cloud would be much greater than individual bolts.

I wish I could find some accurate figures from a reputable source.
The figures are all over the place.

There has also been experimentation with high power lazers to draw lightning.
That would be more efficient than having arrays of conductors.

Billy T
03-29-10, 04:26 PM
... If one had a tower a mile in the sky, or better yet two towers with conductive wire suspended in between, the amount of lightning strikes could far exceed the average. ...
Perhaps instead of measuring the voltage of individual bolts of lightning it would be more convincing to obtain the potential of storm clouds. You could aim for draining entire clouds rather than just single bolts. ...
Also, I don't see why you it has to be a capacitor that would store this energy - like Benny mentioned earlier it could be a substance with a high specific heat.Yes, as Ben Franklin did with kite on metal wire string you can often collect a small current. If you invested a lot in your two tall towers (or three in a triangle with three times greater collecting wire between) you might at times get several milli-amperes at a voltage easy to work with.

Effectively, you would have a large lightning rod system protecting the area inside the set of three towers from lighting bolts.

We discuss capacitors because BennyF speaks of storing voltage, not heat. If you passed the several milli-amps you could collect thru a molten salt, and had very good insulation, you might be able to keep it moltent against the thermal losses thur the insulation but again, conservation of energy rules. I.e. you will not store more energy than the electrical energy in the cloud/earth capacitor. That energy is the energy in the lighting which occasionally dumps / discharges this cloud /earth capacitor.

Also this electric energy is dumped in cloud to cloud discharges. As you are lowering the voltage of clouds passing thru your wires between towers, they may get energy transferred to them from near by clouds via cloud to cloud discharge.

Summary: your suggestion is at least not crazy as BennyF's is, but I don't think it has any chance of being economically attractive.

PS - Instead of towers, tethered balloons would be much cheaper. Note they were used in England during WWII with steel wire tethers to stop low altitude attacking planes* - AFAIK, never was any wire even warmed by the tiny currents that probably did flow to the ground thru the fine steel wires. This is one reason why I think your system would be very lacking in economic feasibility.

*German bombers had to drop bombs from higher altitude and were less accurate.

BennyF
03-29-10, 04:39 PM
Once again, I thank all who have responded with constructive criticism. It may be better to know what you don't know than to know what you do know.

The link to the 100 KV capacitor was included only to show that caps do exist with voltage ratings greater than 20 KV. In the course of my research, I have found a capacitor manufacturer who makes them with voltage ratings even higher than 100 KV.

The idea of a vertical tower, with caps stacked miles high, is an interesting concept, but obviously impractical. I'm an inventor, not a science fiction writer.

Billy, it was kind of you to recommend that I read an article posted on the Wiki website, but as I said before, I do not trust anything on a website whose content can be edited by the public.

Captain, your suggestion for me to use a laser to produce the high voltage I've said I want doesn't inspire me very much. Such a laser would still have to be plugged into a wall outlet, drawing electricity from (ugh!) the electric grid, and forcing me to consider the economics of making water electrolysis profitable while paying for the electricity. That's precisely why few people are splitting water now, and none in large quantities - the economics isn't favorable, given the price of today's electricity. I'm counting on lightning providing me with a low-cost supply of the voltage I need for the sake of profitability.

I'm not trying to run a scientific experiment, I'm trying to sell hydrogen to paying customers at a profit - so that I can continue to provide hydrogen to paying customers in the future and thus help the country become energy self-sufficient. I need good economics, and I think that hundreds of millions of peak volts and a hundred thousand peak amps will do that.

The first test of the economics will come when I find out whether I can disconnect my office from the grid. After that, I'll see how much energy I have left.

Again, I thank all who have offered constructive criticism.

Benny

MacGyver1968
03-29-10, 04:44 PM
If nothing else Benny...you got people to think...thanks!

MacGyver1968
03-29-10, 04:54 PM
Once again, I thank all who have responded with constructive criticism. It may be better to know what you don't know than to know what you do know.

The link to the 100 KV capacitor was included only to show that caps do exist with voltage ratings greater than 20 KV. In the course of my research, I have found a capacitor manufacturer who makes them with voltage ratings even higher than 100 KV.

The idea of a vertical tower, with caps stacked miles high, is an interesting concept, but obviously impractical. I'm an inventor, not a science fiction writer.

Billy, it was kind of you to recommend that I read an article posted on the Wiki website, but as I said before, I do not trust anything on a website whose content can be edited by the public.

Captain, your suggestion for me to use a laser to produce the high voltage I've said I want doesn't inspire me very much. Such a laser would still have to be plugged into a wall outlet, drawing electricity from (ugh!) the electric grid, and forcing me to consider the economics of making water electrolysis profitable while paying for the electricity. That's precisely why few people are splitting water now, and none in large quantities - the economics isn't favorable, given the price of today's electricity. I'm counting on lightning providing me with a low-cost supply of the voltage I need for the sake of profitability.

I'm not trying to run a scientific experiment, I'm trying to sell hydrogen to paying customers at a profit - so that I can continue to provide hydrogen to paying customers in the future and thus help the country become energy self-sufficient. I need good economics, and I think that hundreds of millions of peak volts and a hundred thousand peak amps will do that.

The first test of the economics will come when I find out whether I can disconnect my office from the grid. After that, I'll see how much energy I have left.

Again, I thank all who have offered constructive criticism.

Benny

Point taken...I said I couldn't find a cap with greater than 20KV capacity...and you proved me wrong..by showing a cap that was 5 times greater in voltage capacity. I admit I was wrong. The simple fact is...my 20KV caps are made for both HV and HC. It really doesn't matter....all of this cost way more than other more reliable sources of renewable energy.

BennyF
03-29-10, 04:56 PM
This is what I said a moment ago.

"I'm not trying to run a scientific experiment, I'm trying to sell hydrogen to paying customers at a profit."

I almost forgot. I'm also trying to prevent deaths and injuries from direct lightning strikes, plus lightning-sparked wildfires, damage to buildings, animal deaths and injuries from being caught in a lightning-sparked wildfire, and let's not forget the residue from fire-retardant chemicals that are used to fight wildfires.

Billy T
03-29-10, 05:05 PM
... Billy, it was kind of you to recommend that I read an article posted on the Wiki website, but as I said before, I do not trust anything on a website whose content can be edited by the public. ...I suspected you would prefer to remain extremely ignorant.

Wiki does have some errors,* but as thousands of well educated people do read and correct, that source tends to be better that a text book by a single author. With your attitude, you can not read anything some single person has written. - Thus, you must be very ignorant in many fields as you only trust your self-formed ideas.

-------------
*Generally you must be an expert in the field to even notice them, and often the "error" is just what wiki states a different POV than the one you hold to be fact. When it comes to physics there are no errors at your very low level of understanding. Thus, you could safely learn from Wiki articles.

MacGyver1968
03-29-10, 05:08 PM
This is what I said a moment ago.

"I'm not trying to run a scientific experiment, I'm trying to sell hydrogen to paying customers at a profit."

I almost forgot. I'm also trying to prevent deaths and injuries from direct lightning strikes, plus lightning-sparked wildfires, damage to buildings, animal deaths and injuries from being caught in a lightning-sparked wildfire, and let's not forget the residue from fire-retardant chemicals that are used to fight wildfires.


So...your going to build lightning collection facilities in the middle of forests...to prevent forest fires...that's mighty damn noble. :)

For your facilities to prevent lightning deaths and fires, they would need to be distributed to every square mile of planet earth.

The more you speak...the more the Woo shows itself.

Billy T
03-29-10, 05:11 PM
I never said > 20Kv did not exist. I said:
{post 61}...PS one reason why high voltage capacitors with rating above about 20KV are not common is that is about the limit of Hg vapor ignatron switches - You don't dischage these 20KV capacitors with a knife switch especially in a string with a million volt charge.
--------
* I would not be the least surprized if a low inductance, 20 microfarad, 20KV capacitor cost $1000 now. If that is the case, then BennyF string would cost more than 3 million dollars to store the same energy as the $5, low-voltage capacitor of the post 53 photo! And that does not include the oil filled room they operate in to avoid air breakdown discharge.

Captain Kremmen
03-29-10, 05:13 PM
Captain, your suggestion for me to use a laser to produce the high voltage I've said I want doesn't inspire me very much. Such a laser would still have to be plugged into a wall outlet, drawing electricity from (ugh!) the electric grid, and forcing me to consider the economics of making water electrolysis profitable while paying for the electricity.

You misunderstood me.
What I was saying was that the intense laser pulse is as little use as lightning, because it lasts such a short time. Same as lightning. I'll put the main point in big writing.


If it was the number of Watts that counted, lightning would be a poor source of power when compared with some lasers.

The Nova 100 can be held in a big room and supply peak power of 100 Terawatts 10 times a day.

The Tabletop laser would be even better, outputting a peak of 10 TW every second.

http://www.ph.utexas.edu/~utlasers/images/terawatt/terawatt-diagram.jpg


http://www.ph.utexas.edu/~utlasers/terawatt.php

But it isn't the wattage that counts, its the wattage times the length of time.
In the case of the 100 TW laser, it is 1 nanosecond.
In the case of lightning, it is 30 milliseconds.

The bolt of lightning would provide enough power for the office for hours or weeks,
depending on which figures you use, but notions of almost limitless energy are nonsense.

If you haven't understood this time, I'm going to have to give up trying.
Best of luck with your project.

BennyF
03-29-10, 05:13 PM
Let me step out of my usual style and ask an honest question or two, instead of trying to offer advice and boast about my future accomplishments.

Assuming, as I do, that northern Florida has the worst lightning problem in the country, and assuming, as I do, that there's a reason to prevent lightning from hitting people and buildings in northern Florida, here's my question. What would a simple grounded lightning rod have to look like (e.g. materials, height, architecture, etc) in order to be effective in, say, the Jacksonville area?

What are the regulations that govern the height of such a structure? Which local, state, and national agencies would need to offer their approval before such a structure could be built?

MacGyver1968
03-29-10, 05:21 PM
This is what I said a moment ago.

"I'm not trying to run a scientific experiment, I'm trying to sell hydrogen to paying customers at a profit."



Then there are a lot better ways of doing it. You mentioned N. Florida...if that is where you are based..then solar, (and possibly wind) by far is the way to go.

I believe it is quite possible to capture at least some of the energy from a lightning bolt and use to to charge a bank of capacitors..that charge a bank of batteries that power inverters that power my business and electrolysis of water. That said...there are FAR FAR better ways to accomplish the same tasks.

BennyF
03-29-10, 05:36 PM
This is strictly FYI.

The University of Florida performs scientific research in a facility near Gainesville. Once again, my years of research turned up this tidbit a long time ago.

The place is called Camp Blanding, because the research is done in cooperation with the U.S. Air Force. They clear the airspace long enough for the scientists to send up a rocket with a wire attached. Lightning hits the rocket, electricity travels down the wire (which promptly burns up), and the scientists study what they can.

Here's the website run by the University of Florida:
http://www.lightning.ece.ufl.edu/

And here's the website run by the security company, which considers it a military installation:
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/camp-blanding.htm

The university web page has a long list of publications that have published scientific articles from 1993 to 2008 based on onsite research. Click on the "publications" link.

If you click on the "Fulgarites" link, you'll see photos of objects that are created when lightning strikes sand.

DRZion
03-29-10, 06:06 PM
There has also been experimentation with high power lazers to draw lightning.
That would be more efficient than having arrays of conductors.

How on earth would you use a laser to draw lightning ??


Yes, as Ben Franklin did with kite on metal wire string you can often collect a small current. If you invested a lot in your two tall towers (or three in a triangle with three times greater collecting wire between) you might at times get several milli-amperes at a voltage easy to work with.

There are those who say his son has done the deed (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjZR1Rjj_p0).

Why only milliamperes? I do not mean directly drain charge as Franklin's kite did, but rather use an elevated object to draw lightning...

I do not think the kite was on a metal wire string it was only 1750 and they did not have this kind of technology.

Billy T
03-29-10, 06:21 PM
How on earth would you use a laser to draw lightning ?? ... Why only milliamperes? I do not mean directly drain charge as Franklin's kite did, but rather use an elevated object to draw lightning... The laser if pulsed only after the cloud had time to build up a high voltage and if it is powerful enough to ionize a line of air* to the cloud, it will quite likely draw lightning.

If the laser were able to keep a continuous conducting path to the cloud, never would there be any lighting from that cloud. - The charge building in the cloud would be drained away as fast as it forms. The same is true true of your wires and metal towers.
That is how lighting rods PREVENT lighting. - I.e. drain away the charge as it is produced. (It is more complicated than that as they change the equi-potential surfaces and thus the local electric field strength also.)

It is interesting to note that AFAIK (certainly true 25 years ago) no one really knows how the cloud becomes charged to a high voltage. To do this you must have some way to separate in the air electrons from the positive ions that are made when the electron is removed from neutral N2, O2 or H2O molecules. I.e. how is this possible? What force overcomes the electrostatic attraction between the electron and the ion it is leaving? You can read a lot of hand waving about rising air currents, water drops, etc. but never is this force identified.

*BTW this is essentially impossible (I think IS impossible, if the cloud is more 1000 meters above the laser). Problem is that the laser beam passing up thru the first meter of ionized air will no long be a well formed parallel beam. - Ionized air has a very different index of refraction and it would be very spatially varying across the beam. Sort of like trying to shine a flashlight beam thru a thousand sheets of frosted glass. This was a big problem with ground based laser weapons shooting at the photo voltaic panels of satellites - could not deliver significant energy density to even warm them. The spreading of the air ionizing laser's beam is called "blooming."

This is why small rockets trailing a fine wire are used to draw lighting from clouds and not lasers, which could be cheaper than many rockets if many lightning bolts are to be produced.

Billy T
03-30-10, 07:20 AM
In post 84, I explained the physics of the Paschen mimimum curve, but did not spell his name correctly. See that post here:
http://www.sciforums.com/showpost.php?p=2509133&postcount=84

BennyF
03-30-10, 09:37 AM
Hi, Billy.

First, please have a look at a post I just left on another board, referring to funny female perfume.

Second, here's an interesting link I found about a year ago. These vehicles burn hydrogen. Yes, I said they BURN HYDROGEN.

http://avt.inel.gov/hydrogen.html

The link comes from the Idaho National Laboratory, which is testing them. There are no fuel cells in these vehicles. They use hydrogen directly as a fuel, instead of combining it with oxygen to produce electricity for an electric motor.

I said before that H2 vehicles are ready NOW for large-scale production. All the manufacturers need is a country that has many H2 filling stations, so that people can refill their tanks whenever they need to.

It is my hope, sometimes waxing, sometimes waning, that lightning can someday become an economical source of electricity, and that this electricity can someday be stored in large enough quantities to allow for the electrolysis of water, turning it into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen would be shipped, perhaps in a metal hydride, to the H2 filling stations, and the oxygen would be sold to hospitals and nursing homes.

BennyF
03-30-10, 09:56 AM
The spreading of the air ionizing laser's beam is called "blooming."

This topic was mentioned in a Tom Clancy novel called "The Cardinal in the Kremlin." In the story, Russia and the US were both competing to be the first to develop a laser weapon, for use in destroying satellites. In the story, Russia had one and tested it on one of their own satellites. A US Air Force plane saw it accidentally when they were cataloging the satellites, documented the technical details, sent the info to NORAD, and immediately landed their plane, feeling quite sad that the US had not been the first to develop such a weapon.

Billy T
03-30-10, 10:53 AM
This topic was mentioned in a Tom Clancy novel called "The Cardinal in the Kremlin." In the story, Russia and the US were both competing to be the first to develop a laser weapon, for use in destroying satellites. As I discussed in prior post, from the ground that is impossible (unless you send beam backwards thru a very large diameter telescope mirror* so that in the air the energy density per unit cross section area of the beam is too low to even strongly heat the air). An adequate understanding of physics would have avoided the expense and the nonsense in Tom Clancy's story of trying from the ground.

I.e. simple physics can often show some things, such as your extremely high voltage energy storage ideas, are essentially impossible. You would need several hundred long train loads of railroad tank cars filled with high dielectric strength oil to fill a tank with a base about the size of Manhattan Island and walls some miles high to prevent breakdown discharge of your stored energy (Even assuming it were possible to collect it from lightning).

Too bad, in your ignorance you have wasted 4 years dreaming.

------------
*With slight convergent secondary lens that concentrates beam back down / focuses it on the satellite.

BennyF
03-30-10, 01:38 PM
Billy, it's been awhile since I read the Tom Clancy story, but I think that there were half a dozen separate lasers that were somehow "combined" to form the one beam that was computer-aimed at the malfunctioning Russian satellite.

In the story, the Russians did experience the blooming that you mentioned, which reduced the heat that the satellite felt, but the laser put out enough wattage to fry the delicate satellite anyway. The Russian General who gave the final OK on the laser countdown called it "half a success" when he reported to his superior. The Russian satellite's trajectory was known to the Russians staffing the aiming computers, so all they had to do was to program in the coordinates where the satellite would be and the laser did the rest.

As for my stored-lightning idea, I said I wouldn't be using a cap as big as a football stadium. That's because I intend to use more than one of them, all HV caps with voltage ratings of 100 kv or better. That would reduce the amperage down to a much more manageable level.

Tell me, would it modify my need for dielectric oil if the capacitor is shaped like a cigar, with its' two electrodes at either end of the cap? In other words, if the distance between the two electrodes on a single cap is measured in feet instead of inches, how does that change the breakdown voltage?

Benny

Billy T
03-30-10, 02:52 PM
To BennyF:
“The dielectric strength of air is approximately 3kV/mm. Its exact value varies with the shape and size of the electrodes and increases with the pressure of the air.”
Quote from: http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2000/AliceHong.shtml

That is for very clean dry air. (Moist air in the electrode gap may arc over at less than 1kV/mm voltages.) Also you need a safety factor of at least 2 so for design purposes, figure that any point at 1 million volts must be two meters from the ground if in ordinary air. Likewise any point at one billion volts must be at least two kilometers above the ground to avoid electrical breakdown in air. Thus your “hottest” terminal at your planned 100 billion volts must be about 200 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. Actually even that would fail for reason I have already stated. Namely the condensers in the voltage string near the altitude of the atmospheric Paschen minimum would all short out with atmospheric arcs / breakdown. The UV from their arcs would short out most of the others plus now the total voltage is divided among the the non-shorted capacitors and that over voltaging them cause internal breakdown destruction of them, even without the UV.

Here is a table of the typical dielectric strength of various materials:
Substance Dielectric Strength (MV/m)
Helium[1] 0.15
Air[2] 0.4 - 3.0 (depends on pressure) [3]
Alumina[1] 13.4
Window glass[1] 9.8 - 13.8
Silicone oil, Mineral oil[1] [4] 10 – 15
Benzene[1] 16
Polystyrene[1] 19.7
Polyethylene [5] 18.9 - 21.7
Neoprene rubber[1] 15.7 - 27.6
Ultra pure Water[6] 30
High Vacuum (field emission limited) [7]20 - 40 (depends on electrode shape) {and this assumes no UV on the cathode. Harsh UV there can greatly lower the gap breakdown voltage.}
Fused silica [8] 25 – 40
Waxed paper [9] 40 – 60
Teflon[10] 60 Mica [11] 20 – 70

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dielectric_strength (Square bracket numbers are reference Wiki has cited. Tom Clancy is not one. ;) They are serious studies.)

Thus, if the entire voltage string were submersed in oil with a dielectric strength of 15MV/ meter, your 100 BV storage system might not need to be more than 13 kilometers tall. (All of the highest voltage points at least 13 kilometers above the ground surface.) However, there must be nearly 13 kilometers of oil covering their tops too. For example, it only a 100 meters of oil covers the top of the highest voltage electrode an arc will form up thru that 100 meters of oil and then down the 13,100 meters of air on the outside of the capacitor stack's oil tank. So really your 100 billion Volt storage system, if on Earth, must be in an oil tank about 24 kilometers tall. (It could be somewhat smaller in space, if well shielded from solar UV.) The Manhattan Island sized base is required to store the energy you need / want (to disconnect your office from the power lines.)

Perhaps you are beginning to get a little understanding of how silly your ideas are?

PS
Your question about a cigar shaped capacitor does not make much sense* as normally there is one small high voltage electrode and the entire metal case is the other electrode. You seem to be thinking there would be two small electrodes at the ends of the cigar. What is the case (skin of the cigar)? At what voltage is this case if one end of cigar is at 0V and the other at 20Kv? For example is the case is at 10Kv? If so, then the 0V end electrode will arc over to it as the zero volt end is a cathode wrt the case. You also may create some internal arcs between the case and internal electrodes. Likewise the case will arc over to the 20Kv electrode as wrt to it, the case is the cathode. You would need some insulating circle rings near each end to make the case / end electrode gap more than the breakdown gap spacing.

-----------
*This just reflects how little you understand about high voltages.

MacGyver1968
03-30-10, 04:27 PM
I tried to think of an analogy..and this was the best I could come up with.

Essentially, you are digging a 200ft deep water well with a spoon, in order to extract a gallon or two of water that sporadically forms a month and sometime not at all. Water that needs to go through an expensive filtering process to be even usable...when you live right next to a clear mountain stream that flows year round, and requires little to no filtering before use. :)

DRZion
03-30-10, 06:01 PM
*BTW this is essentially impossible (I think IS impossible, if the cloud is more 1000 meters above the laser). Problem is that the laser beam passing up thru the first meter of ionized air will no long be a well formed parallel beam. - Ionized air has a very different index of refraction and it would be very spatially varying across the beam. Sort of like trying to shine a flashlight beam thru a thousand sheets of frosted glass. This was a big problem with ground based laser weapons shooting at the photo voltaic panels of satellites - could not deliver significant energy density to even warm them. The spreading of the air ionizing laser's beam is called "blooming."

This is why small rockets trailing a fine wire are used to draw lighting from clouds and not lasers, which could be cheaper than many rockets if many lightning bolts are to be produced.

Yes, I heard about this problem with high powered lasers. This is the same reason why military lasers are limited in their usefulness. It would be nice if by ionization the refractive index of air would be lowered. This way the laser might burn a path in air which would guide trailing parts of the beam much like a fiber optic cable. I assume this is not the case.


I like the idea of the rocket with the string - but if this works, why wouldn't a helium balloon with wire work?

Billy T
03-30-10, 06:08 PM
... I like the idea of the rocket with the string - but if this works, why wouldn't a helium balloon with wire work?It should, but with wind, may to too hard to make it go towards the cloud.

Nasor
03-31-10, 09:10 AM
Also, for experimental purposes they like to know more or less exactly when the lightning is going to hit. With a rocket, the lightning is going to strike within a few seconds of it launching, or not at all. With a balloon floating around in the sky, you never really know when it's going to strike.

BennyF
03-31-10, 11:21 AM
To BennyF:
Your question about a cigar shaped capacitor does not make much sense as normally there is one small high voltage electrode and the entire metal case is the other electrode.

Normally, yes, but the following link shows what I was talking about.

http://www.wstestsystems.com/eis3.htm

Four of the caps on the page have voltage ratings of 140 KV, two are rated at 100 KV, and the last two have ratings of 200 KV and 300 KV. All but the last two are shaped like a cylinder, with two electrodes, one at each end of the cylinder. They remind me of the shape of a cigar.

I have seen a catalog from a different capacitor manufacturer, who also offers caps with voltage ratings up to 200 KV, and various capacitance ratings.

I thank you for the information you provided recently on arcing and dielectric strength.

Benny

MacGyver1968
03-31-10, 12:08 PM
While those caps are rated at 140KV...take a look at the capacitance. If you want to calculate the energy in Joules that it could hold, try this: E=1/2 * V^2 * C

From my calculations...that around 500 Joules per cap...so you'd need 100 million of them to store 500MJ.

In addition..you would also have the added cost of electrical isolation:

http://www.electrical-res.com/EX/10-20-23/fkz.jpg

BennyF
03-31-10, 01:28 PM
Hello Administrators !

I just tried to upload an avatar into my profile, but I could not do it. Am I disallowed this privilege, or am I clicking the wrong buttons?

Benny

Billy T
03-31-10, 01:36 PM
... Normally, yes, but the following link shows what I was talking about. http://www.wstestsystems.com/eis3.htm...Yes electrodes at both ends, often sticking thru a glass or ceramic insulation disk are quite common for small capacitors, but not for high voltage energy storage capacitors. You do understand that 20nF and 42 nF are very small values, nano, not micro farads. As MacGyver points out you would need 100 million of them to store, fully charged, 500MJ.

They are not used to store energy, but mainly in the near discharged state hung across a pair of wires that might get a very brief, but high voltage spike across them to protect down steam device from the high voltage spike. Judging from the stated weights, 20 &42Kg, I would guess their volumes at least 25 & 50 liters (100 million of them then 2.5 & 5 billion liters. It might be more informative for you in cubic feet. (1 liters = 0.0353146667 cubic feet). E.g. 50 liters is 1.765,733,335 cubic feet. So 50 billion of these is 1,765,733,335 cubic feet. Now a cubic mile is (5280)^3 cubic feet or 278784x5280 < 279x528E4 = 1,473,120,000 so your are speaking of more than a cubic mile large storage system for storing 500MJ when only working at 140Kv.

Recall from my prior post that to store the SAME energy at a voltage a thousand times greater, you need 1000 times more volume. Thus even if you were speaking of only storing at 140Million volts you would need significantly more than 1000 cubic miles for your storage system.* Your planned 100 billion volt system would occupy about a billion cubic miles if made with these nano Farad capacitors.

When I said your storage system might fit inside a dielectric oil tank whose base area was the size of Manhattan Island and whose side walls were "miles high," I was assuming you would use many individual capacitors in the tens of micro Farad range, not in the nano Farad range. The energy storage to volume ratio of these capacitors of your link is much less than those bigger units several posters have shown photos of.

----------------
*Let me explain the physics of this to you: Just as the energy in a compressed steel spring is stored by slightly compressing the equilibrium inter atomic spaces between atoms, the energy stored in a capacitor is by compressing the space between dielectric atoms. In both cases there is a structural break down limit. Thus, if you want to store twice as much energy at just below this limit you will need twice the amount of storing material (dielectric or steel).

If you also want to store the energy at twice the voltage, then the plates of a simple capacitor must be twice a far apart (to keep the electric field below the breakdown field). This will reduce the capacitance by a factor of two. However the stored energy is 0.5C V^2 so the V^2 factor is 4 times greater and the C factor is half as large. Thus the energy stored is in fact doubled with twice the volume stressed to near the dielectric limit.

Captain Kremmen
03-31-10, 02:28 PM
Hello Administrators !

I just tried to upload an avatar into my profile, but I could not do it. Am I disallowed this privilege, or am I clicking the wrong buttons?

Benny


It might be too big.
Save a google image thumbnail as a .jpg and try that.
Give this one a try. Right click and save as jpg.
Then upload it to your profile.
http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:DRDBqfgVYVFU_M:http://edcommunity.apple.com/ali/groupfiles/16331/music%26mac_icon.gif

BennyF
03-31-10, 05:04 PM
[The avatar I want to upload into my profile]... might be too big.
Save a google image thumbnail as a .jpg and try that.

Captain, I have a drawing of Mr. Franklin flying a kite, with lightning in the background. It's just under 70KB, and I think it's perfect for my screen name. It's currently in the GIF format, but I can convert it into JPG format (or TIFF, or BMP, or a dozen others) if I need to.

I still have a few questions that you may be able to answer.

#1. Is there a required image format for an avatar?

#2. Is there a limit on the image size?

#3. What is the procedure for uploading it?

#4. Am I allowed to install an avatar under the board rules? I ask this question because I had to post, I think, 20 posts before I could add links, so there may be restrictions on me that I'm not aware of.

MacGyver1968
03-31-10, 05:13 PM
It has to be no bigger than 60x60 pixels and no larger than 19.5kb. Under "user CP" you should see an "edit avatar" under "settings".

BennyF
03-31-10, 05:50 PM
You do understand that 20nF and 42 nF are very small values, nano, not micro farads. As MacGyver points out you would need 100 million of them to store, fully charged, 500MJ.

If I remember my prefixes, a deci- is a tenth, a milli- is a thousanth, a micro- is the next level smaller, a pico-farad would be the next level smaller (a thousandth of a pico-farad), and I guess a nano-farad would be the next level smaller, a thousandth of a pico-farad. Do I have it right?




[140 KV caps]... are not used to store energy, but mainly in the near discharged state hung across a pair of wires that might get a very brief, but high voltage spike across them to protect down steam device from the high voltage spike.

A screwdriver isn't "made" to be a replacement for a prybar, but it sometimes is used for just that purpose. Even if a 140 KV cap isn't made for the purpose of storing lightning's voltage, why can't it be used for this purpose?



Recall from my prior post that to store the SAME energy at a voltage a thousand times greater, you need 1000 times more volume. Thus even if you were speaking of only storing at 140Million volts you would need significantly more than 1000 cubic miles for your storage system.* Your planned 100 billion volt system would occupy about a billion cubic miles if made with these nano Farad capacitors.

It seems I've been confused about what is being "used" in a circuit. A long time ago, I was shown the principles in a simple circuit consisting of a battery, a light bulb, and a knife switch. The battery produced voltage which the light bulb turned into light by being a resistive element. Ever since, I have thought in terms of voltage being "used up". There is even some DC voltage loss in wires themselves, I was taught, which is why Nicola Tesla's invention of AC was so important. It enabled the transmission of electricity with a much smaller loss of the voltage which would later be turned into light, heat, and other residential purposes.

I graduated 30 years ago from an electronics trade school. I learned about basic electricity principles before being taught electronics. I learned how to use current dividers and voltage dividers. I learned about RC and LC circuits
and after graduating, was hired as an electronics technician just as the recession of 1980 was getting bad. My company was laying people off left and right, and eventually, I lost my job as well. Since those jobs require a frequent refresher course in the new chips, and since I didn't have a job anymore, I couldn't keep up my electronics education, and so I couldn't get rehired.

However, I could and did keep my textbooks, and I could and did remember most of the principles and practices I had learned. That's what I was like in the summer of 2006, when the idea came to me. Lightning is high voltage and high current. Treat it like any other source of electricity, and find a way to store it!

Along the way, I discovered a few quirks, like the existence of positively-charged lightning bolts, coming from the tops of the clouds, and the difficulty of predicting where it will strike.

Fortunately for me, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration has made this job a lot easier. They divide the continental US into six regions, and each link below shows the probability of lightning striking in one of those regions.

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/mdl/radar/NE_probltg.gif
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/mdl/radar/NC_probltg.gif
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/mdl/radar/NW_probltg.gif
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/mdl/radar/SE_probltg.gif
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/mdl/radar/SC_probltg.gif
http://www.nws.noaa.gov/mdl/radar/SW_probltg.gif

My original idea involved some simple concepts, some HV wiring and capacitors, and a few tricks to ensure that my storage equipment could not get hit twice during the same electrical storm, thus overloading the caps with twice as much voltage before I would have a chance to draw down the voltage at my own pace.

Earlier in this thread, I said I wanted to store a hundred billion volts. Doing so would necessarily mean that the components in my storage equipment, including the wires themselves, would only need to handle a small fraction of the peak amperage which I understand is approximately 100 KA.

Even 3/0 wire, like the spool in the following link, might not be able to handle it. That's why I upped the voltage and reduced the amperage.

http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/wwg/search.shtml?searchQuery=spool&op=search&Ntt=wire+3%2F0|spool&sst=subset&N=

It seems I'll have to go back for that refresher course now.

Thank you to all who have helped educate me.

Benny

MacGyver1968
03-31-10, 06:29 PM
milli is "thousandth" or 10^-3
micro is "millionth" or 10^-6
nano is "billionth" or 10^-9
pico is "trillionth" or 10^-12

You had nano and pico swapped.

Captain Kremmen
04-01-10, 05:44 AM
Captain, I have a drawing of Mr. Franklin flying a kite, with lightning in the background. It's just under 70KB, and I think it's perfect for my screen name. It's currently in the GIF format, but I can convert it into JPG format (or TIFF, or BMP, or a dozen others) if I need to.

I still have a few questions that you may be able to answer.

#1. Is there a required image format for an avatar?

#2. Is there a limit on the image size?

#3. What is the procedure for uploading it?

#4. Am I allowed to install an avatar under the board rules? I ask this question because I had to post, I think, 20 posts before I could add links, so there may be restrictions on me that I'm not aware of.

1. Not sure. I've always saved it as a jpg file
2. Yes. The maximum size of your custom image is 60 by 60 pixels or 19.5 KB (whichever is smaller). The google thumbnails all seem to work ok.
3. Edit avatar under the CP menu
4. I Don't know.

Try one of these to test. You can change your avatar as often as you like.

http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:zd-bh7Fywt0k9M:http://www.electronicsandyou.com/electronics-history/Ben%2520Franklin.jpg

http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:w527g2SEkJaNDM:http://www.acclaimimages.com/_gallery/_images_n300/0041-0810-1906-0319_illustration_benjamin_franklin_flying_a_kite. jpg

Billy T
04-01-10, 07:50 AM
... A long time ago, I was shown the principles in a simple circuit consisting of a battery, a light bulb, and a knife switch. The battery produced voltage which the light bulb turned into light by being a resistive element. Ever since, I have thought in terms of voltage being "used up". ...That is the origin of all your mistakes. It is the chemical energy in the battery that is "used up," not the voltage. As you thought voltage was being used up and knew it was possible to step up the voltage, you thought you could get more energy (Even than existed in the source) by stepping up the voltage to 100 billion volts and using a little bit of the voltage at a time to produce hydrogen much more cheaply or to disconnect office buildings from the power lines.

Both batteries and capacitors can store energy and have a terminal voltage; however they have very different relationships between the terminal voltage and the fraction of the energy remaining in the storing unit. E.g. When 3/4 of the energy in a new battery has been "used up" the terminal voltage is essential the same as when the battery was new. In the capacitor when 3/4 of the originally stored energy is used up the terminal voltage is only half of what it was originally.

This is another reason why batteries (or fuel cells, which are "batteries" that permit the chemical energy to be feed in from an external source) are better for the primary energy storage in an electric car. Motors tend to over heat and burn up if you only give them half of their design voltage. Thus, either you can only use less than about half the energy stored in a capacitor to power the car's motor without damage to it OR you must provide electronics, which can handle the peak load, that will take a variable input DC voltage and make a essentially constant output DC voltage. I.e. include a high power level capable DC voltage regulator, which accepts variable voltage DC input in your power system (more expense and weight).

PS
One can define a "battery" as any device which DIRECTLY converts chemical energy into electrical energy. "Directly" is require to avoid inclusion of oil and coal fired power plants etc. as batteries. They, with the aid of their additional equipment, also convert their chemical energy into electric power. That would be my definition, but many people may not like my calling fuel cells "batteries."

BennyF
04-02-10, 02:42 PM
[FONT="Verdana"]HOLD THE PRESSES !![There's a MAJOR electrical storm moving through Iowa RIGHT NOW.

http://www.iowaponds.com/images/weather/nexstorm.jpg

I"ll get back to storing electricity later. Right now, all I want to do is to STARE AT IT.:D

Benny/FONT]

Captain Kremmen
04-03-10, 06:22 AM
Well?

BennyF
04-03-10, 12:01 PM
For those who logged in too late to see the show ...

A serious electrical storm, viewed from a lightning detector in Waterloo, Iowa.
F:\H2\Perrennial\Local Lightning Scans\IA\Waterloo\04-02-10.jpg

Strike Star, counting 14 lightning strikes PER MINUTE in their North Central sector.
F:\H2\Perrennial\Local Lightning Scans\Overland Park, KS\Strike Star NC Sector\04-02-10.png

I feel somewhat like a tornado chaser, except that I can do my chasing from a computer.:)

Benny

BennyF
04-03-10, 12:09 PM
Sorry folks, my image upload didn't work. I have a few dozen web addresses on file. Each one is a scan for lightning strikes. Yesterday, when I checked the six NOAA links that I had published recently, one of them told me that there was a big electrical storm in the Iowa-Illinois area. I downloaded current information from a bunch of them yesterday, and a moment ago, I tried to upload to this board two of the scans, but all I could display was the path to the image, not the image itself. Oh, well. It was an excellent show while it lasted.

MacGyver1968
04-03-10, 12:20 PM
Sorry folks, my image upload didn't work. I have a few dozen web addresses on file. Each one is a scan for lightning strikes. Yesterday, when I checked the six NOAA links that I had published recently, one of them told me that there was a big electrical storm in the Iowa-Illinois area. I downloaded current information from a bunch of them yesterday, and a moment ago, I tried to upload to this board two of the scans, but all I could display was the path to the image, not the image itself. Oh, well. It was an excellent show while it lasted.

You can't link files directly from your computer. You need to host them on the internet somewhere, then link that address. I use photobucket.com to store my images online. It's free. If you need any help, let me know.


I feel somewhat like a tornado chaser, except that I can do my chasing from a computer.

and it's a fuck-load safer! :)

BennyF
04-03-10, 12:23 PM
Thanks, Captain, for the image of Mr. Franklin.

Benny

BennyF
04-03-10, 12:37 PM
You can't link files directly from your computer. You need to host them on the internet somewhere, then link that address. I use photobucket.com to store my images online. It's free. If you need any help, let me know.

MacGyver, I just registered with Photo Bucket, like you recommended and I've saved onto their website the two images that I tried to upload earlier. Here goes my first try at uploading them onto this message board.

http://s970.photobucket.com/albums/ae190/BennyF_2010/?action=view&current=04-02-10.jpg

http://s970.photobucket.com/albums/ae190/BennyF_2010/?action=view&current=04-02-10-1.png

Even if it doesn't work this time, I'll try it again a bit later, and thanks anyway, for the advice to register with Photo Bucket.

Benny, crossing my fingers

BennyF
04-03-10, 12:41 PM
Aw, nuts, it didn't work. OK, I'll try again.

http://i970.photobucket.com/albums/ae190/BennyF_2010/04-02-10.jpg?t=1270317686

http://i970.photobucket.com/albums/ae190/BennyF_2010/04-02-10-1.png?t=1270317478

Benny, crossing my fingers on both hands
(You can't imagine how hard it is to type with crossed fingers ...)

MacGyver1968
04-03-10, 12:41 PM
Bingo!

BennyF
04-03-10, 12:52 PM
YIPPEEEEEEEEE !!

Which reminds me, if any of you have serious plans to try to collect and store the voltage from lightning, you should consider the serious possibility that your collection equipment might just get hit more than once from the same electrical storm. It happens.

If it does happen, your capacitor-based storage equipment will be charged up with double or even triple the voltage that you were expecting. You don't want that. Trying to find a way to store 500 MV is bad enough, but now, you're looking at a few billion volts?

I've already thought about this design consideration. That's one problem that won't happen with my circuits. I have already added some special electrical circuitry that will keep a second lightning bolt far away from any capacitors I am using. In fact, I believe I can guarantee that my caps won't get charged up again until sometime after they're fully discharged. Sorry, but for the sake of my potential application to the patent office, I choose not to say how I'm going to prevent an overcharged capacitor.

Benny

Randwolf
04-03-10, 12:58 PM
YIPPEEEEEEEEE !!You mean you caught one? You honest to God caught a lightning bolt, converted and stored it in some sort of capacitor?

YIPPEEEEEEEEE !!

You will be hailed as the savior of the human race - I am honored to have known you, even in such a peripheral fashion as an internet forum... :cool:

BennyF
04-03-10, 01:02 PM
Yes, I caught it. With my computer, s"il vous plait.:)

Billy T
04-03-10, 01:36 PM
Benny F - You still seem to still be dreaming. Did you not understand your fundamental error, explained here:
http://www.sciforums.com/showpost.php?p=2512112&postcount=153

BTW, I don't think you need worry about a second lightning bolt "over volting" your capacitor storage system. It will have enough inductance to not collect much energy even on the first strike.

I.e. most of the voltage that hits your collection rod(s) will appear across the system's inductance. - This will limit the current flowing in your capacitors. The voltage they develop will be directly proportional that collected charge. To keep the inductance as low as possible, interconnect the individual capacitors in the series string by wide copper straps, not wires.

Actually, instead of even significantly trying to enter your capacitors, the bolt will just arc around them to the ground. With their inductance, they will be a higher impedance path than just continuing the air arc to the ground.

But don't worry about facts -just keep on dreaming in your ignorance.

kira
04-03-10, 01:50 PM
Aw, nuts, it didn't work. OK, I'll try again.

http://i970.photobucket.com/albums/ae190/BennyF_2010/04-02-10.jpg?t=1270317686

http://i970.photobucket.com/albums/ae190/BennyF_2010/04-02-10-1.png?t=1270317478

Benny, crossing my fingers on both hands
(You can't imagine how hard it is to type with crossed fingers ...)

What are those images..?? I noticed the date on the images are yesterday?

BennyF
04-03-10, 01:54 PM
The show is over, it's back to business, I'm afraid.

The Argonne National Laboratory has asked the public to submit questions on physics topics, using their "Ask a Scientist" web page. Awhile ago, a woman named Paige asked about the mass of a lightning bolt.

Here's her question and their answer.
http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/phy00/phy00876.htm

I note that his answer uses an average lightning bolt, with "measurements" of 30 KA and 100 KV. That may very well be average figures, but anyone who wants to collect and store energy from lightning must deal with the peak amperage and voltage, which I've already posted.

And that's just one problem you must deal with if you want to collect and store any of the energy from a lightning bolt. Another consideration is the fact that every lightning bolt produces nitrogen oxides, which some call a greenhouse gas.




A French institute, documenting their "lightning produces NOx" findings.
http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=18602693

A world map from the Global Emissions Inventory Activity, showing where NOx gets produced (from lightning) (PDF format).
http://geiacenter.org/graphics/light-nox-ann.pdf

NASA, in 2003, saying that lightning has a big effect on global atmospheric chemistry.
http://www.nasa.gov/centers/goddard/news/topstory/2003/0312pollution.html

"Scientists were surprised to learn summer lightning over the U.S. significantly increases regional ozone and other gases that affect air chemistry 3 to 8 miles above Earth's surface.The amounts of ozone and nitrogen oxides created by lightning surpass those generated by human activities in that level of the atmosphere."



On the other hand, there's all this hydrogen you could produce, if you could collect it, store it, and send it through an electrolyzer ....



An article that just had its' two-year anniversary, saying that H2 can be stored in nanoparticles made out of hydride sodium alanate.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/03/080331112030.htm



Benny, still working and still thinking

BennyF
04-03-10, 02:06 PM
Kira, those two images are graphical documentation of a storm that happened yesterday. Depending on your point of view, you can call it an electrical storm or a thunderstorm if you wish.

With reference to the second image, every dot shows one lightning bolt. My research says that 90% of them go from one cloud to another, but some do hit a ground-based object. This distinction is further clarified by the first image, which classifies them into five categories:

Positive Cloud-to-Ground
Positive Cloud-to-Cloud
Negative Cloud-to-Ground
Negative Cloud-to-Cloud
unclassified (probably too far away to be studied)

Kira, you might want to take note of the 13,561 total lightning strikes they recorded, the 197 strikes per minute that were happening at the moment that I recorded this image, and the 459 strikes per minute that happened at the peak of the storm. These numbers should give anyone good reason to have a few second thoughts before they start buying capacitors.

Benny

kira
04-03-10, 02:19 PM
Kira, those two images are graphical documentation of a storm that happened yesterday. Depending on your point of view, you can call it an electrical storm or a thunderstorm if you wish.

With reference to the second image, every dot shows one lightning bolt. My research says that 90% of them go from one cloud to another, but some do hit a ground-based object. This distinction is further clarified by the first image, which classifies them into five categories:

Positive Cloud-to-Ground
Positive Cloud-to-Cloud
Negative Cloud-to-Ground
Negative Cloud-to-Cloud
unclassified (probably too far away to be studied)

Kira, you might want to take note of the 13,561 total lightning strikes they recorded, the 197 strikes per minute that were happening at the moment that I recorded this image, and the 459 strikes per minute that happened at the peak of the storm. These numbers should give anyone good reason to have a few second thoughts before they start buying capacitors.

Benny

Thanks for the explanation. How did you capture and count the lightning spots? :confused: (if you don't mind me asking)

Captain Kremmen
04-03-10, 02:20 PM
Article gives us a rough figure for the energy in a lightning bolt.
5e8 Joules.
1 Kwh is 3.6e6 Joules


So, 138.9 Kwh


What was the storm like?

Captain Kremmen
04-03-10, 02:38 PM
Benny F - You still seem to still be dreaming. Did you not understand your fundamental error, explained here:
http://www.sciforums.com/showpost.php?p=2512112&postcount=153

BTW, I don't think you need worry about a second lightning bolt "over volting" your capacitor storage system. It will have enough inductance to not collect much energy even on the first strike.

I.e. most of the voltage that hits your collection rod(s) will appear across the system's inductance. - This will limit the current flowing in your capacitors. The voltage they develop will be directly proportional that collected charge. To keep the inductance as low as possible, interconnect the individual capacitors in the series string by wide copper straps, not wires.

Actually, instead of even significantly trying to enter your capacitors, the bolt will just arc around them to the ground. With their inductance, they will be a higher impedance path than just continuing the air arc to the ground.

But don't worry about facts -just keep on dreaming in your ignorance.

I sympathise.
I've tried to explain to Benny that amperage is not a measure of usable energy. I've tried really hard.
I can hardly believe he's gone back to saying the same as he said in the first place.

BennyF
04-03-10, 02:40 PM
Please remember, Captain, the article on the Argonne web page gave figures for an average lightning bolt. Peak values for voltage and current are a helluva lot higher.

MacGyver1968
04-03-10, 02:41 PM
[FONT="Verdana"][SIZE="2"]

I note that his answer uses an average lightning bolt, with "measurements" of 30 KA and 100 KV. That may very well be average figures, but anyone who wants to collect and store energy from lightning must deal with the peak amperage and voltage, which I've already posted.




Just for shits and giggles...let's go with the 30KA 100KV number, and assume a 30mS strike time. (I need the math practice) Using something rarely found in my posts...math...I will attempt to calculate the total amount of energy in Joules, and then attempt to calculate the total capacitance required to store that amount of energy at 100KV.

30KA * 100KV = 3 MW

3 MW for .003 seconds = 9 KW per second or 2.5 KW/h (edit: wrong..it's 2.5 W/h)

2.5W/h = 9kJ

C= (9kJ/100KV^2) /2

C=.00045 Farads

Using the previous linked 100KV 30nF caps..it would require 15 thousand of these caps in parallel to store 9kJ @100KV. Is my math right?

Edit: corrected math

Billy T
04-03-10, 02:42 PM
... Benny, still working and still thinkingYour thinking would produce less errors if you learned some physic first. In ignorance "thinking" is really just "dreaming," without connection to reality.

Captain Kremmen
04-03-10, 02:51 PM
Please remember, Captain, the article on the Argonne web page gave figures for an average lightning bolt. Peak values for voltage and current are a helluva lot higher.


Could someone else have a go?
I can't do it any more.:bawl:
It must be possible for someone to make him see that you have to bring time into the calculation.

BennyF
04-03-10, 02:53 PM
BTW, I don't think you need worry about a second lightning bolt "over volting" your capacitor storage system. It will have enough inductance to not collect much energy even on the first strike.

I.e. most of the voltage that hits your collection rod(s) will appear across the system's inductance. - This will limit the current flowing in your capacitors.

Billy, I'm not famillar with your terminology. I am familliar with voltage that is measured across a resistor (or a capacitor) and current going through a resistor, but "voltage across an inductance"? The question is even more pointed when I remind you that I haven't shown anyone my schematics.

Billy, I think you're talking about a technological matter, something that wouldn't appear on a schematic, like the brand name of the capacitor that gets used, or the current rating on the wires.

The research I've done so far tells me that a solid copper wire won't have as much ability to transmit current as a stranded wire of the same outside diameter, like the spool of 3/0 wire from Grainger's that I linked to in an earlier post. I admit, my physics isn't perfect, but when DC current is flowing in a wire, don't the electrons travel on the outside of the wire? If so, why should I design a system that uses solid copper wire when the peak amperage is so high, I'm planning on multiplying the voltage to compensate, using Ohm's Law?

BennyF
04-03-10, 03:06 PM
It must be possible for someone to make him see that you have to bring time into the calculation.

Captain, please. I'm not as dumb as you think. I graduated from an electronics school. The voltage in a lightning bolt gets delivered in a small fraction of a second, and that's why lightning has high current, which I've taken into consideration in my schematics.

When a DC voltage charges a cap through a series resistor, the RC curve will look different if the resistor has a high resistance than it would if the resistance is low. The schematic on my computer has few resistors because each one of them would convert electrical energy into heat, and I consider that wasted energy.

I'm still reviewing the figures that you and Billy have supplied on the energy in lightning bolts, energy measured in Joules, and I haven't bought any caps. I won't be doing that anyway until sometime after the U.S. Government decides whether my patent application has all the right stuff. For their purposes, the brand name on the cap doesn't matter, and neither does the choice of a solid wire or a stranded one.

Benny

Billy T
04-03-10, 05:26 PM
Billy, I'm not famillar with your terminology. I am familliar with voltage that is measured across a resistor (or a capacitor) and current going through a resistor, but "voltage across an inductance"? The question is even more pointed when I remind you that I haven't shown anyone my schematics. ...Benny you are so ignorant about electric circuits that it is difficult to communicate with you. "Inductance" is not my terminology, but one of the three standard terms, used to characterize electrical components, - Resistance and capacitance are the other two. Inductors and capacitors are sort of each others opposite, in several ways, but I don’t want to go into concepts related to phase shifts given your ignorant state. So I will just note one thing important in your planned application: The voltage across a capacitor cannot change instantaneously but it is the CURRENT through an inductor that cannot change instantaneously.

As many posters have pointed out you will have a very large number of individual capacitors connected together in a series string to get your very high voltage ratings. I already told you that copper straps should be used to interconnect them* to lower the inductance, which is limiting the rate that current can change (increase) in this string of capacitors. Note that before the lightning bolt strikes the current in your capacitor string is zero and due to this fact about inductors, it will not increase much in the brief duration of the lightning bolt. I.e. for this and other reasons you will not get much charge into your high voltage storage system.

The extent to which current flows in the interior of a wire, instead of on the skin is a function of the frequency. The current density (amps/cm^2) as you move (conceptually) from the skin towards the center of a conductor decreases with increase in frequency of the current but for DC there is no such decrease. (Not absolutely true as normally the core of a solid conductor will be slightly warmer than the skin and thus have higher resistance, but this effect is small and considering how ignorant you of very simple things I will not say more about this subtlety and dare not even try to explain or define the useful concept of "skin depth.")

------------------------
*Every wire has both resistance and inductance. Both can be lowered by using copper straps instead of wires to interconnect your large number of capacitors in a series string. Another way capacitors and inductors are each other’s opposites is that in parallel connections the total capacitance of two identical capacitors is twice that of either one, but two identical inductors in parallel becomes an inductor with half the inductance of either. Think of the copper strap as many wires in parallel - that is why it lowers the inductance of the interconnections.

PS
I have long ago concluded you are too ignorant and too disinclined to learn anything, but I continue to post replies as I like to teach and many others are learning from my posts. I might change this opinion of you if you were to read and reply to post 153 which is at:
http://www.sciforums.com/showpost.php?p=2512112&postcount=153

There I quickly explain the primary origin of your totally wrong ideas.

Captain Kremmen
04-04-10, 07:58 AM
@Benny
You've only had a few posts on here, and perhaps you are not used to forums.

One thing you do which is very annoying, is that you do not seem to read posts and reply to what is contained in them.

You gave a link, to which I replied that (using the data from that link) the useable energy in an average thunderbolt is about 140 Kwh, if collected with 100% efficiency.

If you accepted that, you could have replied saying that:
"Yes, the energy is 140 Kwh. I estimate that with my equipment I could gather X% of that amount. My equipment and other costs would be Y amount. I estimate that I could gather X number of thunderbolts per year with my equipment. It would pay for itself in Z years"

Instead of that, you reply talking about peak voltage and amperage again, which is totally meaningless as far as using it is concerned.
If you want to, say, heat up a house, or drive a motor, you need to start talking about the average current, and the time it is flowing.
Use KWh.

Nasor
04-05-10, 10:00 AM
I graduated from an electronics school.
Look, you seem like a nice guy who is genuinely enthused about this, which is probably why so many people are taking the time to reply to you and try to explain things rather than simply blowing you off. But it's very difficult to believe that you graduated from an electronics school without learning about inductance.

Nasor
04-05-10, 10:11 AM
Just for shits and giggles...let's go with the 30KA 100KV number, and assume a 30mS strike time. (I need the math practice) Using something rarely found in my posts...math...I will attempt to calculate the total amount of energy in Joules, and then attempt to calculate the total capacitance required to store that amount of energy at 100KV.

30KA * 100KV = 3 MW

3 MW for .003 seconds = 9 KW per second or 2.5 KW/h (edit: wrong..it's 2.5 W/h)

30 KA * 100 KV = 3E9 W = 3 GW.

3 GW * 0.03 seconds (not 0.003) = 9E7 J = 90 MJ = about 25 kw hours, or about $2.50 worth at average US prices.

Captain Kremmen
04-05-10, 10:47 AM
It's an interesting subject for debate, or it would have died down long ago.

Would it be possible to send a balloon up into thunderclouds with something on board to collect the energy?

MacGyver1968
04-05-10, 11:26 AM
30 KA * 100 KV = 3E9 W = 3 GW.

3 GW * 0.03 seconds (not 0.003) = 9E7 J = 90 MJ = about 250 kw hours, or about $2.50 worth at average US prices.

Thanks for correcting my math. I need to check my decimal places more carefully.

Billy T
04-05-10, 02:40 PM
... Would it be possible to send a balloon up into thunderclouds with something on board to collect the energy?No; but with a conducting wire to ground it would be. The balloon would be small compared to the cloud, which is too conductive to have very much electric field strength (V/meter) So even a 100 meter balloon would have at most a few volts from one side to the other.

Also unless you had some plan for converting the energy to chemical storage, instead of capacitors, the weight to store any interesting (say a dollar's worth) amount of energy would be too much for the balloon to lift.

Fraggle Rocker
04-05-10, 04:36 PM
But it's very difficult to believe that you graduated from an electronics school without learning about inductance.That was very graciously put. You should get an award for it. As I recall, we covered inductance in EE101a. ;)

BennyF
04-05-10, 04:49 PM
Look, you seem like a nice guy who is genuinely enthused about this, which is probably why so many people are taking the time to reply to you and try to explain things rather than simply blowing you off. But it's very difficult to believe that you graduated from an electronics school without learning about inductance.

I did learn about inductance in my school. I just haven't put any coils into my schematics, so I don't see any inductance unless you're referring to the coiled metal parts that are inside most capacitors.

Billy wrote about the inductance that's in every wire, but unless I'm mistaken, those values are as small as the voltage loss due to the resistance in each wire.

BennyF
04-05-10, 05:08 PM
I don't think you need worry about a second lightning bolt "over volting" your capacitor storage system. It will have enough inductance to not collect much energy even on the first strike.

I.e. most of the voltage that hits your collection rod(s) will appear across the system's inductance. - This will limit the current flowing in your capacitors. The voltage they develop will be directly proportional that collected charge. To keep the inductance as low as possible, interconnect the individual capacitors in the series string by wide copper straps, not wires.

Actually, instead of even significantly trying to enter your capacitors, the bolt will just arc around them to the ground. With their inductance, they will be a higher impedance path than just continuing the air arc to the ground

Billy, the following chart appears in some of the physics textbooks I own. Yes, I own some physics textbooks, but the concepts I have discussed so far seem like simple HV electricity, not anything "quarky", if I can borrow (and mangle) an astronomy term.

http://i970.photobucket.com/albums/ae190/BennyF_2010/th_RCCurves.gif

As explained by this chart, the voltage levels during (a) a capacitor charging event, or (b) a capacitor discharging event are governed by the amount of resistance, not the amount of inductance. You've been talking about the "system inductance", Billy, but I don't see it, I'm still not showing you my schematics, and I want you to explain where the inductance comes from.

Benny

BennyF
04-05-10, 05:11 PM
The link in the previous post was a tiny copy of the graph. Here's a link to the whole page from one of Western Washington University's physics professors:

http://www.ac.wwu.edu/~vawter/PhysicsNet/Topics/DC-Current/RCSeries.html

The RC charging/discharging curves are about 2/3 of the way down on the page.

Benny

BennyF
04-05-10, 05:29 PM
Would it be possible to send a balloon up into thunderclouds with something on board to collect the energy?

Captain, I found this tidbit a few years ago, during the early part of my four-year ongoing research project. The idea was posted by someone with a screen name "Vernon", and it's dated 09/24/01. The text of the idea is quite long, so I'll simply include a link to the web page:

http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Lightning_20Power_20Plant

Please note that the page also has other "half-baked" ideas on how to collect the voltage (their terminology) from lightning.

Benny

MacGyver1968
04-05-10, 05:43 PM
Benny,

From what I can tell, you and I have about the same educational background. I have a 2 year associate's degree in electronic engineering technology....a technicians degree. Although mine is about 15 years newer than yours. :)

I think you are missing the point. While it might be possible to capture at least some of the energy from a lightning bolt, the costs involved far FAR outweigh the amount of energy that could be collected. There are far better, and cheaper ways of extracting renewable energy. I believe you are seriously underestimating the size and cost of a capacitor bank capable of capturing the energy levels in lightning bolt.

BennyF
04-05-10, 06:00 PM
MacGyver, I'm afraid your guess about my educational background flatters me way too much. I attended all-day clases for seven months. All students learned about electricity before splitting into two groups. One group (mine) learned about digital electronics, the kind used in 1970s computers, and the other group learned about radio and tv electronics, so that they would be qualified to repair them when they broke.

There's also one other difference between me and most of the posters who I have seen here. I seem to be the only one who is concerned with preventing lightning damage and death to people and animals.

As for the economics of a capacitor bank, I haven't seen any prices on the HV caps I want to use, and I can't begin to guess what the labor costs will be (at least two years from now) for the technicians who will build the system under the direction of an engineer or two, and I'm sure that the local, state, and federal officials will want to collect their fees on such a heroic feat of engineering, plus there will be the cost of the building(s) which will encompass the capacitor bank, plus office space.

All I know is that nobody (I said NOBODY) has ever been able to generate a single volt of electricity, using lightning as his power source, and that lightning still kills 80-100 people every year, plus the economic damage it does to man-made structures.

Neverfly
04-05-10, 06:06 PM
I have a better idea.

Since you point out that lightning kills...

Instead of trying to harness that energy in capacitors, (which is not feasible at this time) set Death Row felons on poles in high thunderstorm areas.

All problems solved AND think of the savings on electric bills for the chairs.

Billy T
04-05-10, 06:11 PM
Yes BennyF the voltage Vc (t) builds up in an initially discharged capacitor charging from a constant voltage Vb source as: Vc(t) = Vb (1-e^-t/rc)
IF the time constant RC is large compared to the time constant LC. I.e. then the inductance L can be ignored.

Typically, especially when charging from a battery, the time constant RC is several seconds. In your planned application two things are different:

(1) You do not have a constant voltage source.
(2) You must have RC very small compared to one second.

I.e. You want to use many (say N) individual capacitors with high voltage (>20kV) rating and at least C= 10 or more micro Farads in series. Thus the effective capacitance of the string, Ce will be C/N. For example, when N is one million Ce is a million times smaller than C (Ce is very small).

Likewise you will have R very small to avoid having all the power dissipated in the wires interconnecting these physically large individual capacitors. Thus your RC time constant should be less than 0.001 seconds* as the lightning bolt is over in about 0.03seconds.

SUMMARY:
With these conditions (many wires, or straps if you follow my advice, interconnecting you individual capacitors, which are physically large) the LC time constant cannot be ignored. In fact unless you pay a extra for low inductance capacitors, it very like controls the rate at which the current can build up in your capacitor string. I.e the simple large RC time constant curves you have copied and posted do not apply.

PS I am still waiting for you to reply to my post that explains why you are fundamentally wrong in most of your ideas. Read it at:
http://www.sciforums.com/showpost.php?p=2512112&postcount=153

* In fact your Ce being so small and your use of straps for low resistive loss as the interconnections between your many individual capacitors will probably make your RC time constant only a few micro seconds. Thus the LC time constant will probably about 100 times larger and dominate. - I.e. it will limit how fast you can put charge into your capacitors.

As I have already told you, most of the voltage will be across the inductance and the lightning will just continue its air arc to ground, by-passing your circuit. One does not want or need to see your circuit and given how ignorant you are about all this, it would only be good for laughs.

BennyF
04-05-10, 06:13 PM
Neverfly, please put these inhumane thoughts on another board. Even without the benefit of a college degree, I have been trying hard to solve a problem that has existed for two and a half CENTURIES: How to take the idea of a Leyden Jar (the original capacitor) and apply it to the tremendous amount of energy in a lightning bolt.

Lightning kills, and I want to stop it while generating useful voltage from it.

Neverfly
04-05-10, 06:22 PM
Neverfly, please put these inhumane thoughts on another board. Even without the benefit of a college degree, I have been trying hard to solve a problem that has existed for two and a half CENTURIES: How to take the idea of a Leyden Jar (the original capacitor) and apply it to the tremendous amount of energy in a lightning bolt.

Lightning kills, and I want to stop it while generating useful voltage from it.

While you're at it, can you solve FTL, too?

Inhumane- maybe, actually. I'm not a big supporter of the death penalty. Too many innocent people get thrown on death row.

BennyF
04-05-10, 06:23 PM
Yes BennyF the voltage Vc (t) builds up in an initially discharged capacitor charging from a constant voltage Vb source as: Vc(t) = Vb e^t/rc IF the time constant RC is large compared to the time constant LC. I.e. then the inductance L can be ignored.

Typically, especially when charging from a battery, the time constant RC is several seconds. In your planned application two things are different:

(1) You do not have a constant voltage source.
(2) You must have RC very small compared to one second.

I.e. You want to use many (say N) individual capacitors with high voltage (>20kV) rating and at least C= 10 or more micro Farads in series the effective capacitance of the string, Ce will be C/N. For example when is one million Ce is a million times smaller than C (Ce is very small).

Likewise you will have R very small to avoid having all the power dissipated in the wires interconnecting these physically large individual capacitors. Thus your RC time constant should be less than 0.001 seconds as the lightning bolt is over in about 0.03seconds.

Billy, I composed and tried to post a reply to your post, but it didn't make it past the Editor's Desk. Perhaps it was too long, perhaps someone saw the text as I was typing it and decided it should not be seen for whatever reason ...

In any event, I'm getting even more nervous, because I think that you're not just here to discuss physics, or its' subset - electricity. I think you want a look at my schematics, so that you can beat me to the patent office, so I will limit what I write about my system, to keep you (and everybody else) deliberately in the dark. You can see my schematics after I get my patent, which won't specify voltage ratings on the caps, current ratings on the wires, or the size of my office staff.

Benny

MacGyver1968
04-05-10, 06:32 PM
MacGyver, I'm afraid your guess about my educational background flatters me way too much. I attended all-day clases for seven months. All students learned about electricity before splitting into two groups. One group (mine) learned about digital electronics, the kind used in 1970s computers, and the other group learned about radio and tv electronics, so that they would be qualified to repair them when they broke.

There's also one other difference between me and most of the posters who I have seen here. I seem to be the only one who is concerned with preventing lightning damage and death to people and animals.

As for the economics of a capacitor bank, I haven't seen any prices on the HV caps I want to use, and I can't begin to guess what the labor costs will be (at least two years from now) for the technicians who will build the system under the direction of an engineer or two, and I'm sure that the local, state, and federal officials will want to collect their fees on such a heroic feat of engineering, plus there will be the cost of the building(s) which will encompass the capacitor bank, plus office space.

All I know is that nobody (I said NOBODY) has ever been able to generate a single volt of electricity, using lightning as his power source, and that lightning still kills 80-100 people every year, plus the economic damage it does to man-made structures.

I'm sorry, but that is an Appeal to emotion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appeal_to_emotion). Lightning strikes don't kill that many people, it is a very rare event. The costs involved FAR FAR exceed any benifits.

BennyF
04-05-10, 06:35 PM
To all who want to have a serious discussion of an electrical method of charging one or more capacitors, using lightning as a DC source:

The RC time constant that appears in many physics textbooks assumes that a resistor will be inserted in series with the capacitor. If you take out the resistor, and charge a capacitor directly from a DC source, the only resistance in the circuit is the resistance of the wires themselves, which could be designed to be a multi-stranded copper wire with, say, a 3/4" outside diameter, leading into, say, a capacitor bank consisting of, say, a hundred current branches with, say, a hundred HV caps in each branch.

In this hypothetical system, each and every capacitor, initially uncharged and undamaged, has a real "thirst" for electrical energy, and would be able to drink a lot of it in a very short time, which is nice, because the electricity from the lightning bolt would only last for a very short time.

Oh, I forgot. The thunderstorm just might hit your collector a hundred times before the storm moves away.:)

BennyF
04-05-10, 06:54 PM
Lightning strikes don't kill that many people, it is a very rare event.

The Iowa thunderstorm I documented earlier peaked at over 450 strikes PER MINUTE. That was just one storm. I have no idea whether this storm damaged any buildings or killed any people, but I do know (because I've seen the stats) that 80-100 people EVERY DAMN YEAR die from lightning IN THIS COUNTRY ALONE.

Almost all of the localized lightning detectors I have access to, because I know their web addresses, are in this country, but there is one exception. I have the web address for a lightning scan somewhere in Sasketchewan, Canada, and yes, I've seen lightning strikes appear on this website.

I also mentioned earlier that lightning hits the CN Tower in Toronto over twenty times every year. The actual figure I saw was 26 times every year. Wouldn't it be nice if a large cap bank were to be installed in their building, so that all this electricity could be collected, stored, and converted into AC for their own benefit?

BennyF
04-05-10, 07:18 PM
To all who want to have a serious discussion of methods for collecting and storing electrical energy, using lightning as your sole source:

My schematics deal with the high voltage and current in the typical lightning bolt. They also deal with the high probability that any lightning rod can get hit more than once in a single thunderstorm. They also deal with the issue of how to discharge a HV capacitor bank safely and in a manner that allows for two uses of the electricity.

1. Converting some of it to AC, to be used in a company office, and
2. Using the rest, as low-voltage DC, in the well-known endothermic chemical reaction sometimes called WATER ELECTROLYSIS.

The amount of electrical energy, measured in Joules, contained in a single lightning bolt, is "certainly significant". That's a quote from a person who was working for one of our national laboratories, and I can supply the link.

I want to take this SIGNIFICANT amount of electrical energy and store it for the benefit of a privately-owned corporation. There will be no donation of electricity to an electric grid, and there will be no giveaway of my schematics until after I get my patent.

Adieu,

Benny

MacGyver1968
04-05-10, 07:23 PM
The Iowa thunderstorm I documented earlier peaked at over 450 strikes PER MINUTE. That was just one storm. I have no idea whether this storm damaged any buildings or killed any people, but I do know (because I've seen the stats) that 80-100 people EVERY DAMN YEAR die from lightning IN THIS COUNTRY ALONE.

Almost all of the localized lightning detectors I have access to, because I know their web addresses, are in this country, but there is one exception. I have the web address for a lightning scan somewhere in Sasketchewan, Canada, and yes, I've seen lightning strikes appear on this website.

I also mentioned earlier that lightning hits the CN Tower in Toronto over twenty times every year. The actual figure I saw was 26 times every year. Wouldn't it be nice if a large cap bank were to be installed in their building, so that all this electricity could be collected, stored, and converted into AC for their own benefit?

But most of those strikes were cloud to cloud. The simple fact is that very few people are killed or injured due to lightning strikes. Compared to the risks we take every time we get in a car, the risk is negligible. In order for your facilities to protect the public from lightning strikes, they would have to be located everywhere.

There is a difference between dreaming and reality.

Billy T
04-05-10, 07:30 PM
... In any event, I'm getting even more nervous, because I think that you're not just here to discuss physics, or its' subset - electricity. I think you want a look at my schematics, so that you can beat me to the patent office, so I will limit what I write about my system, to keep you (and everybody else) deliberately in the dark. You can see my schematics after I get my patent, which won't specify voltage ratings on the caps, current ratings on the wires, or the size of my office staff. BennyPerhaps you missed the last paragraph of post 194? Here it is again:

... {post 194} As I have already told you, most of the voltage will be across the inductance and the lightning will just continue its air arc to ground, by-passing your circuit. One does not want or need to see your circuit and given how ignorant you are about all this, it would only be good for laughs.You probably do not know that ALL capacitors have some inductance. You can get a pretty good measure of it by shorting them out with a copper strap (at low voltage for safety reasons). They will "ring" -I.e. reverse charge after passing thru zero voltage. The period of the ringing frequency is mainly the LC time constant and you know what the C is. The rate at which this ringing oscillation dies down is a measure of their internal resistance, assuming your shorting strap is making good contact with the terminals of the capacitor.

Captain Kremmen
04-06-10, 05:02 AM
Captain, I found this tidbit a few years ago, during the early part of my four-year ongoing research project. The idea was posted by someone with a screen name "Vernon", and it's dated 09/24/01. The text of the idea is quite long, so I'll simply include a link to the web page:

http://www.halfbakery.com/idea/Lightning_20Power_20Plant

Please note that the page also has other "half-baked" ideas on how to collect the voltage (their terminology) from lightning.

Benny


Yes, I thought it was half baked, but sending up a balloon to scoop up electricity is an attractive pipe dream. It could follow a thundercloud around.
Could you charge up a car battery for example? Or would it take too long, or not charge at all? I don't mean with a line to the ground, I mean on its own. Obviously you'd need some other electromatriggerry widgets along with it to collect the electricity.

BennyF
04-06-10, 09:59 AM
There is a difference between dreaming and reality.

I received a letter in the mail yesterday. It was dated April 1st, and it came from a man I've never met in Omaha, Nebraska. The man says that Warren Buffett recently had a bad argument with his family, and that he's decided to cut them all out of his will. Warren decided to give the bulk of his money to me after picking my name out of the phone book. The man who wrote to me asked me to send him a check for $500 to cover the paperwork at the Omaha courthouse and some incidental expenses.

When I received the letter, I faxed it to a U.S.-based capacitor manufacturer, along with a purchase order for a few million 200kv caps. They called me a few hours later, telling me that they would begin round-the-clock production of the caps as soon as my letter was authenticated.




What's that, you say? You don't think the letter will stand up to a rigorus authentication procedure? Well I have some bad news for you.

The U.S. Patent Office doesn't care whether the letter is genuine or not.

When I send them my application, as I expect to do later this year, they will not check my bank statements, because I won't be applying to them for a permit to BUILD a large capacitor bank, I'll be asking them to examine the SCIENCE of a large capacitor bank.

My application, when it's received, will first be checked by their financial people, to see whether I've paid the application fees properly.

Next, it'll be examined by a clerk, who will verify that all the proper forms have been submitted, and that all the "i"s have been dotted and all the "t"s have been crossed.

Next, it'll be given to a higher-grade clerk, who will check to see whether I'm trying to patent something that has already been patented.

Finally, my application will be tentatively assigned a class number, and examined by an electrical engineer, who will look at the invention and who will decide whether it does what I say it will do. He (or she) will study what happens when a lightning bolt hits my invention without the necessity of seeing a scale model. That's their ultimate criteria - the science of an invention or a method for accomplishing a particular task.




MacGyver, you're absolutely correct. There is a big difference between dreaming and reality. Let's talk about reality for a moment.

According to the nice gentleman at Argonne, lightning has 5e8 Joules.

http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/phy00/phy00876.htm

It's travelling down a 3/4" (outside diameter) stranded copper wire, and all of a sudden it sees a current divider with a hundred current paths. One-hundredth of the total, or 5e6 Joules, will go into each of the 100 paths.

Each path has 100 HV caps. No, I'm going to inherit a king's ransom, so let's put A THOUSAND caps in each current path, all 200kv. Simultaneously, in each of the 100 paths, when the 5e6 Joules sees this, it divides again, this time into a thousand equal pieces, so each of the thousand caps (in each path) will store 5e3 Joules, in other words, 5,000 Joules.

Did I mention? The capacitor manufacturer told me that a bored engineer had produced a design for a 500kv capacitor, but they had shelved the idea because they thought that nobody would want to buy it. Now here I am, with a purchase order for millions of them!:)




Yes, MacGyver, I know the difference between dreaming and reality. Reality is a paid-up application to the U.S. Patent Office. Dreaming is what happens when I say that stranded copper wire just isn't good enough, and that as long as I'm going to be the next Billionaire, I'm going to have a mile of wire manufactured from stranded SILVER.

Neverfly
04-06-10, 10:37 AM
oh.... The thread is a Joke.


I GET IT! AHHHAHAHAHAHHAHAHHAHA!
Good one man. OH really... you had me going. But the Letter was too much. Sheesh, I feel so silly, now.



Go on, do another one!

Captain Kremmen
04-06-10, 10:43 AM
How about this capacitor which will store 11500 Joules for $600

http://www.amazing1.com/Graphics/13500M-1300V.gif
13500 ufd, 1300 Volt, 11500 Joule Oil-Filled Energy Storage Capacitor
Here is the "holy grail" answer to the high energy enthusiast experimenting with electro-kinetic rail guns, coil guns, high energy discharges, magnetizers, etc. Capacitors are un-used in their original packing. Size is 28" x 13-½" x 6-¾" and weight is 90 pounds. Capacitors have dual terminals for low inductance or convenient series and paralleling. Ten of these connected in parallel will produce 115,000 joules. May be connected in series for augmented rails, parallel for standard configurations, or used individually for segmented rail systems. These are NWL WA2840 models used by the military for electro-kinetic mortar systems, normally costing over $2300 each new. Note these units are only available to qualified personnel.

http://www.amazing1.com/capacitors.htm

These are a fraction of the usual cost.
Arithmetic time again.
A bolt of lightning has 500000000 Joules
devide this by 11500 and multiply by 600 to get the price in Dollars.

You will need 43,478 of them. Cost $26,086,956 to capture the energy from one lightning bolt. Convert the Joules to Kwh.
139 Kwh.

A better scheme would be to buy up donkeys to push a wheel round.
In fact, give me £26 Million and I'll push the wheel round.
I'll even wear donkey ears.

MacGyver1968
04-06-10, 10:45 AM
Benny,

Let's go with the 500MJ number from your link. Most of the energy from a lightning bolt is converted to heat during the strike...something like 90%....but let's not worry with that, and just assume that 500MJ is the total amount of energy that you can capture.

500MJ sounds like a lot, but it's only 138KW/h worth of electricity. TXU charges me 13.8 cents per KW/h. That's about $19. My tiny apartment uses about 500 KW/h per month. It would require 4 of these strikes a month just to power my apartment.

Even if the caps you are buying only cost only $1 each, that's still millions of dollars. It would require you to capture 52 thousand 500MJ lightning strikes to produce a million dollars worth of electricity. How many years will that take? ...and that's just the cost of the caps...it doesn't include the bank of batteries or inverters or rent on a facility large enough to house them, or the cost of the hydrogen conversion equipment, and tanks to store everything in.

You really need to do a full financial analysis of your plan. You're spending millions of dollars to extract $19 of "free" energy. That just doesn't make economic sense. No investor or bank is going to loan you millions of dollars to build something that offers such a low return on investment.

BennyF
04-06-10, 10:57 AM
These are NWL WA2840 models used by the military for electro-kinetic mortar systems, normally costing over $2300 each new. Note these units are only available to qualified personnel.

I wonder how anyone would qualify to buy them, and where you might be able to find some used ones at a steep discount to the price that the military paid.

Nice thought on the donkeys, but they leave a bit too much crap lying around.:(

Captain Kremmen
04-06-10, 11:00 AM
Read the post and you'll find out!
If you employ me instead of the donkeys, I promise not to crap anywhere.

As regards getting the equipment, surely membership of sciforums is qualification enough.

MacGyver1968
04-06-10, 11:27 AM
What's funny...donkeys would be more economically feasible.

$26 Million would buy you aprox. 20,000 donkeys @ $1300 a piece. "Donkey power" is an actual unit of power like horsepower. 1hp = 745 W....1dp= 250 W

So with 20,000 donkeys, you could generate 5MW. Work them 8 hours a day, and that's 40MW/h. At 13.8 cents that's $5500 worth of electricity everyday!

BennyF
04-06-10, 12:29 PM
If you employ me instead of the donkeys, I promise not to crap anywhere.

You're probably a high-maintenance piece of equipment, wanting a cigarette break every ten minutes, wanting a compliment every TWO minutes, and always asking for food and water. Can't you work without a constant supply of food and water? Can't you work until at least ten o'clock at night? And why do you always ask for Christmas off with pay?

Mr. Scrooge

Billy T
04-06-10, 03:59 PM
... Nice thought on the donkeys, but they leave a bit too much crap lying around.:(...Yes donkey power equal to the annual average power from lighting bolts at any one location would produce a lot of crap in that year, but if sold as fertilizer it would bring in at least 100 time more money than selling the energy you can collect from lighting. (Even if you assume you could somehow capture all the energy of a lightning bolt - i.e. avoid heating the air, producing thunder etc., which is where about 95% or more of the lightning's energy is now dissipated.)

There is a song: "Who stopped the rain?"
We need to write one entitled: "Benny stopped the thunder." he, hee, heee!

BennyF
04-06-10, 05:17 PM
Hi, Billy. Back to square one, are we? You might want to check in with the scientists at Camp Blanding, Florida, to see how much electrical energy (measured in Joules, I suppose) they've measured at the ground.

AFTER the lightning bolt has traveled through a few miles of open air.:cool:

As for me, I trust the 5e8 Joule measurement that Argonne reports, with allowances for the differences between average amounts and peak amounts. I doubt that they've sent up any airplanes into thunderstorms, just to stick a Franklin Rod out the window.

Now admit it. You haven't seen my schematics, so you have no bloody idea how I plan on tapping into the peak of a lightning bolt.:shrug:

I'll give you a hint. I'm not going to insert a high-value resistor in series with my current divider. That would waste way too much energy in the form of heat. Capacitors normally have a high initial current flow when they're charged, and that will be true for the capacitors in my cap bank, you know, the one with a hundred branches (maybe more) and a thousand caps in each branch. Just ask the patent office if you don't believe me.

One more thing, Billy. You speculated that lightning would bypass my whole apparatus because of, if I remember you correctly, the "system inductance". I think you're underestimating the qualities of my collector. I won't specify the details, but I will tell you this. I won't be using Ben Franklin's iron rod.

MacGyver1968
04-06-10, 05:51 PM
[FONT="Verdana"][SIZE="2"]
As for me, I trust the 5e8 Joule measurement that Argonne reports,

Benny....500MJ is still only 139KW/h of electricity! For some reason, you keep ignoring this fact...I'm not sure why. Why in the world would you spend 100's of thousands or even millions of dollars to build a facility to capture $19 worth of electricity at a time?

Billy T
04-06-10, 06:54 PM
Benny....500MJ is still only 139KW/h of electricity! For some reason, you keep ignoring this fact...I'm not sure why. Why in the world would you spend 100's of thousands or even millions of dollars to build a facility to capture $19 worth of electricity at a time?Most of the assumed 5E8J will be dissipated in heating the air long before it gets near the earth. Even if Benny could get that remaining energy to enter his collector (instead of just continue the air arc to ground) he would get less than one dollars worth.

SUMMARY - What Benny is dreaming about violates both physics and economics.

BennyF
04-07-10, 01:51 PM
Yes donkey power equal to the annual average power from lighting bolts at any one location would produce a lot of crap in that year, but if sold as fertilizer it would bring in at least 100 time more money than selling the energy you can collect from lighting.

Billy, Billy, Billy. You've accused me more than once of not reading your posts, and here you are, ignoring several of mine.

I never said that I wanted to sell electricity.

I have said that I thought I could disconnect my company office from the electric grid, because I thought (rightly or wrongly) that I would have enough AC (converted from DC) to keep my lights on. That's not the same thing as saying that I would be selling electricity.

In fact, Billy, I have said several times what my goals are after the DC electricity is collected and stored - to feed part of it into a high-wattage DC-AC inverter and put the rest of it through an electrolyzer, convert water into hydrogen and oxygen, and sell those gases. The H2 may be stored in a metal hydride, as I've said a few times, and the O2 may get sold to hospitals and nursing homes, as I've said several times, but I've never said that I wanted to compete with established electric utilities for their customers. It's just not economical.

Whether the humongous cap bank is economical is a worthy subject for discussion here, but please don't misquote me. I have no intention of selling electricity.

Benny

BennyF
04-07-10, 01:56 PM
Benny....500MJ is still only 139KW/h of electricity! For some reason, you keep ignoring this fact...I'm not sure why. Why in the world would you spend 100's of thousands or even millions of dollars to build a facility to capture $19 worth of electricity at a time?

Isn't that the "average" measurement of the energy in a lightning bolt? Didn't I say that I could capture the peak values?

I know I didn't say HOW I could do it, but you have to give me credit for restating my goals without a typo, don't you?

MacGyver1968
04-07-10, 02:24 PM
Yes.. it's the amount of energy in a typical lightning bolt...some will be stronger..some will be weaker...if you average it all out it's around 500MJ. I'm just using your number. It's also the total amount of energy in the bolt, not counting what is lost heating atmosphere on the way down. I'm not sure what you are talking about when you say "capture the peak values".

Captain Kremmen
04-07-10, 04:04 PM
For some reason, he thinks that the peak flow of energy, even if it lasts only a fraction of a second, is a measure of how much energy can be captured.

That's why he prefers to talk about peak wattage.

You won't get this idea out of his head no matter what you do.

BennyF
04-07-10, 04:21 PM
Yes.. it's the amount of energy in a typical lightning bolt...some will be stronger..some will be weaker...if you average it all out it's around 500MJ. I'm just using your number. It's also the total amount of energy in the bolt, not counting what is lost heating atmosphere on the way down. I'm not sure what you are talking about when you say "capture the peak values".

I'm going to make an analogy here. I'm an active investor in the US stock market. I have software that tells me that a stock will go from its' present $30/share price up near $40 before some profit-taking begins which will bring the price back down to $37. I buy the stock at $30 and place an order to sell it at $39. There. I've captured the peak value for a stock rally.

In this case, I have good information about the peak values for the current and voltage of lightning bolts, so I design my circuits so that they don't kick in until the bolt reaches its' peak, even though the whole thing happens in the blink of an eye.

BennyF
04-07-10, 04:36 PM
Knowing the peak values for lightning voltage and current are essential if you want to avoid overcharging and maybe damaging your caps, not to mention the necessity of replacing hundreds of feet of burned out wires, one wire at a time.

MacGyver1968
04-07-10, 04:42 PM
So are you trying to say in a 500MJ lightning strike..there is actually more energy than 500MJ?

BennyF
04-07-10, 04:55 PM
500 MJ is the average value. At the peak of the lightning bolt, when the voltage is around 300-400MV and the amperage is around 100KA, I expect the Joule rating to be higher than 5e8.

Perhaps an order of magnitude higher, and that value, if the electricity can be captured at that split-second, could change the design requirements for the circuits AND the economics, too.

MacGyver1968
04-07-10, 06:42 PM
Joules are a measurement of energy over time. I don't think you are understanding that.

Billy T
04-07-10, 08:15 PM
Billy, Billy, Billy. You've accused me more than once of not reading your posts, and here you are, ignoring several of mine. I never said that I wanted to sell electricity. ...No twice wrong. This post of yours is evidence that your do not read well in addition to again showing how very ignorant about electrical energy systems you are.

(1) I have accused you at least three times of not REPLYING to post 153, which quickly and simply points out your fundamental misunderstanding of the physics of electrical energy. (Thinking the energy is proportional to the voltage and can be increased by stepping up the voltage.)* Also you still do not understand the difference between power (Watts) and energy (Joules or KWH) and worse, you do not want to learn.
I have no way to know what you read, so I would not say anything about that (except possibly being kind, I may have speculated that the reason you failed to reply might have been that you did not notice post 153. Good manors at sciforums requires you reply to posts directed to you, but others have already pointed that out to you.)

(2) I never said you plan to sell electricity. The closest I have come to that is noting that the manure from donkeys making the same annual energy that you plan to collect from lightning could be sold for at least 100 times more than you COULD sell the energy for.

I understand well that you erroneously DREAM about disconnecting your office building from the grid and using energy from lightning to produce hydrogen. What you do not understand is that for the same costs as the interest on the capital invested in your capacitors etc. you could produce at least 10,000 times more hydrogen if you used grid electric power instead of lightning electric power. Stepping up the voltage, as you plan to 100 billion volts will NOT increase the energy.

------------------
* Here is some** of your stupidity about voltage being energy, about "storing voltage" and increasing it by step up of voltage in your own words:
{Post 36}... My point is still valid. Whatever the voltage {in lightning} is, it can be multiplied a few hundred times, producing a stored voltage amount in the tens of billions of volts. ...
{post40} ... Anybody who can generate hundreds of millions of DC voltage from a single lightning bolt and who can store TENS OF BILLIONS of voltage can certainly spare some of it for a DC-AC inverter and disconnect his whole office from his local electric grid. After that's done, then the lion's share of the remaining TENS OF BILLIONS of DC volts can be used, a few volts at a time, for a hydrogen-generating electrolysis reaction....Again in a pointless attempt to educate you (pointless as you do not want to learn) ONE DOES NOT "STORE VOLTAGE" - ONE STORES ENERGY.

If you should change your mind and want to learn where your stupidity began, here is link to post 153 again:
http://www.sciforums.com/showpost.php?p=2512112&postcount=153

**There is much more stupidity on display in other posts of yours which others have replied to telling you that voltage is not energy,peak power is not energy, peak voltage is not energy, etc.
Your greatest stupidity (and arrogance) however is not wanting to learn from the many posters who have tried to help you.

Captain Kremmen
04-08-10, 03:26 AM
This thread has brought me close to tears of frustration.

Benny, you can't make electricity what you'd like it to be.
It is what it is.

Perhaps it's all a big wind-up.
If it is , please, let us know now.

BennyF
04-08-10, 08:44 AM
I understand well that you erroneously DREAM about disconnecting your office building from the grid and using energy from lightning to produce hydrogen. What you do not understand is that for the same costs as the interest on the capital invested in your capacitors etc. you could produce at least 10,000 times more hydrogen if you used grid electric power instead of lightning electric power. Stepping up the voltage, as you plan to 100 billion volts will NOT increase the energy.

Billy, you're still confusing my two very separate goals.

1. Getting a US Patent, and

2. Setting up and using a collection of physical electricity collection and storage equipment.

That's number one on my list of complaints about you. I was told a very long time ago by someone I admired (a grandfather) not to put the cart before the horse. In case you're unfamilliar with the saying, horses can't push a cart very well; they have to go in front of them, to pull them. I won't start buying capacitors until sometime after the U.S. Government has decided whether my patent application is worth issuing, and that's that.



Second, whether I'm as knowledgable at physics as you are or not, I do happen to know that a current divider CAN AND WILL multiply voltage. In accordance with Ohm's Law, it does so at the expense of current. If you have DC electricity going though a wire with one capacitor in it, and if that voltage is less than or equal to the voltage rating on the cap, then that cap will store electricity.

If you have two such capacitors in parallel, in the simplest possible form of a current divider, then each of the two capacitors CAN AND WILL be charged up to an equal amount of voltage, even though the current going through each capacitor will be half as much as the current that enters the divider.

That is Ohm's law, and it hasn't changed since it was taught to me 30 years ago. All I'm doing by talking about a hundred billion volts is to scale up this hypothetical current divider, knowing that lightning bolts have so much current, there will still be significant amounts of current even after being broken up into two or three hundred separate current paths.

The amount of the energy, whether measured in Joules or Kw isn't important at this moment. What I'm trying to impress upon you is the FACT that a current divider with a few hundred branches CAN AND WILL reduce lightning current down to a manageable level, and that if each of the hundreds of current paths has a voltage divider, consisting of hundreds of capacitors wired in series, then this voltage divider CAN AND WILL reduce a few hundred million DC volts down to a manageable level, something below the voltage rating on the highest-rated capacitors.

THAT, my dear Billy, is what I will describe IN DETAIL, to the U.S. Patent Office, along with a few other design details that will ensure that lightning can't strike twice onto my capacitors, thus overcharging them.

One more time. Sometime AFTER I receive a patent, I'll do some extensive economic planning to determine the feasibility of collecting and storing DC electricity (using then-current rates, not today's rates) and the economics of selling hydrogen and oxygen from the output of an electrolyzer. All costs, including the prices for hydrogen and oxygen may very well be different by the time I get my patent, which I expect will be two good years from now.

BennyF
04-08-10, 09:19 AM
Billy, this board is supposed to be about HOW to charge capacitors from lightning, NOT whether this process could ever be economically profitable.

Please keep this in mind the next time you write.

Benny

BennyF
04-08-10, 09:37 AM
Benny, you can't make electricity what you'd like it to be.
It is what it is.

This thread has also brought ME to tears of frustration, Captain.

Fact #1. Lightning IS electricity. Mr. Franklin proved that 250 years ago.

Fact #2. Voltage and current can be measured reliably and safely, even the voltage and the current of a lightning bolt.

Fact #3. Lightning's voltage and current HAVE been measured sometime since Mr. Franklin made his discovery, and the amounts are significant.

Fact #4. (Posted mainly for Billy's sake) The US Patent Office doesn't care whether the collection and storage of electricity from lightning is economically feasible. All they care about is whether it is POSSIBLE TO DO SO, given the scientific laws that don't usually change much from one century to the next, with apologies to Mr. Einstein.

Fact #5. I won't buy any equipment until after (I SAID AFTER) the patent office has decided whether I should get a patent or not.

I said AFTER I get a patent !!:mad:

phlogistician
04-08-10, 09:54 AM
I've not read the entire thread, just a few of BennyE's last posts, and he mentions a 'capacitor' to store lightning. Given that lightening is looking for a path to Earth, and a capacitor effectively contains an insulator to prevent current passing through it, surely, the lightning would just strike some other conductor, if not the ground itself, instead of leaping into Benny's contraption, for his convenience? Lightning wants to be grounded, it will find the shortest path to ground. I can't for the life of me understand why Benny thinks it's going to leap into his device?

BennyF
04-08-10, 10:11 AM
Given that lightening is looking for a path to Earth, and a capacitor effectively contains an insulator to prevent current passing through it, surely, the lightning would just strike some other conductor, if not the ground itself, instead of leaping into Benny's contraption, for his convenience?

Even I, with a less-than-perfect knowledge of physics, can handle this one.

You don't know much about capacitors, do you? Think about this for a moment. If current cannot go through a capacitor, then why are billions and billions of capacitors used in electronic circuits?.

Let us all know when you've finished reading your first book on electric circuits.

phlogistician
04-08-10, 10:22 AM
Even I, with a less-than-perfect knowledge of physics, can handle this one.

You don't know much about capacitors, do you? Think about this for a moment. If current cannot go through a capacitor, then why are billions and billions of capacitors used in electronic circuits?.

Let us all know when you've finished reading your first book on electric circuits.

OK, so you are ignorant of how capacitors work. Enough said. Get off your high horse for a minute, and go look at a diagram of the structure of a capacitor. You'll see two conductive surfaces separated by an insulator.

Pop quiz: Do insulators

1, Block the flow of electrons, or,
2, Conduct electricity.

?????

As to why capacitors are used in many electronic applications, well, I know the answer to that, but I'll tell you after you answer the above.

BennyF
04-08-10, 10:28 AM
YOU'RE the one that is ignorant of how capacitors work, and you can't change that with an accusation. You said that current can't go through a capacitor and you were wrong.

Insulators usually block current, but when two conductive materials are separated by a very thin insulator, and a DC voltage is applied across both of the conductors, an electric field grows around the insulator, effectively allowing the DC current to keep flowing.

That's why capacitors are used in billions of electric circuits. Get back to chapter one of your electricity textbook.

MacGyver1968
04-08-10, 10:35 AM
Even I, with a less-than-perfect knowledge of physics, can handle this one.

You don't know much about capacitors, do you? Think about this for a moment. If current cannot go through a capacitor, then why are billions and billions of capacitors used in electronic circuits?.

Let us all know when you've finished reading your first book on electric circuits.

You need to pull the log out of your own eye before trying to pull splinters from others. You are the one who just posted:


I do happen to know that a current divider CAN AND WILL multiply voltage.

Which simply isn't true. Current dividers don't multiply voltage. The voltage stays the same.

You are the one that said:


The amount of the energy, whether measured in Joules or Kw isn't important at this moment.

When it is very important. Without knowing this, there's no way to calculate how big your capacitor bank would need to be.

phlogistician
04-08-10, 10:36 AM
YOU'RE the one that is ignorant of how capacitors work, and you can't change that with an accusation. You said that current can't go through a capacitor and you were wrong.

Insulators usually block current, but when two conductive materials are separated by a very thin insulator, and a DC voltage is applied across both of the conductors, an electric field grows around the insulator, effectively allowing the DC current to keep flowing.

That's why capacitors are used in billions of electric circuits. Get back to chapter one of your electricity textbook.

You didn't answer my question.

But oh dear. You claim an insulator ceases to be an insulator when it's sandwiched between two conductors?

Pop quiz on the construction of capacitors;

Why put an insulator there in the first place, if you want current to flow?
Why not a resistor?

BennyF
04-08-10, 10:42 AM
Current dividers don't multiply voltage. The voltage stays the same.

MacGyver, you're half-right and half-wrong. The voltage in each branch of a current divider IS the same, but if you have five current branches, and if there's a capacitor in each one, with a current rating higher than the voltage applied to the divider, then EACH of the five capacitors has stored the same voltage, at the expense of the current, so when you add up the voltage stored in each of the five capacitors, you'll see five times the voltage that you would've seen if you only had one cap in one wire, receiving the total DC voltage from the source.

BennyF
04-08-10, 10:45 AM
You didn't answer my question.

Well, you didn't answer my question, and I asked it first. If current can't go through a capacitor, as you claim, then why are they used in billions of circuits?

No more answers to your questions until you answer my first question.

BennyF
04-08-10, 10:48 AM
... a capacitor effectively contains an insulator to prevent current passing through it ....

Wrong, wrong, wrong, and you really need to get your information from textbooks instead of playgrounds.

MacGyver1968
04-08-10, 10:53 AM
MacGyver, you're half-right and half-wrong. The voltage in each branch of a current divider IS the same, but if you have five current branches, and if there's a capacitor in each one, with a current rating higher than the voltage applied to the divider, then EACH of the five capacitors has stored the same voltage, at the expense of the current, so when you add up the voltage stored in each of the five capacitors, you'll see five times the voltage that you would've seen if you only had one cap in one wire, receiving the total DC voltage from the source.

That's just wrong. Voltages don't add in a parallel resistive circuit. Time for that refresher course.

BennyF
04-08-10, 11:05 AM
That's just wrong. Voltages don't add in a parallel resistive circuit. Time for that refresher course.

Damn it, MacGyver, I thought I explained it OK.

The voltage in each branch of a current divider is the same in each branch. If each branch has one cap with a higher voltage rating than the voltage applied to the divider, then all of the caps will get charged to the voltage level of the voltage applied to the divider.

Let's plug in some numbers to make the concept easier.

A current divider has five current branches. Each branch has one 50v 20pf cap in it. You connect the divider to a 12v DC source and leave it there.

Here's the math:

Capacitor #1 gets charged up to 12 volts.
Capacitor #2 gets charged up to 12 volts.
Capacitor #3 gets charged up to 12 volts.
Capacitor #4 gets charged up to 12 volts.
Capacitor #5 gets charged up to 12 volts.

You now have 60 volts of electricity if you remove these caps from the divider and re-connect them in series, don't you?

THAT'S what I mean by multiplied voltage, and it's all done AT THE EXPENSE OF THE CURRENT, which in the divider becomes a fifth of whatever current level was applied to the current divider.

Sheesh.

MacGyver1968
04-08-10, 11:29 AM
Damn it, MacGyver, I thought I explained it OK.

The voltage in each branch of a current divider is the same in each branch. If each branch has one cap with a higher voltage rating than the voltage applied to the divider, then all of the caps will get charged to the voltage level of the voltage applied to the divider.

Let's plug in some numbers to make the concept easier.

A current divider has five current branches. Each branch has one 50v 20pf cap in it. You connect the divider to a 12v DC source and leave it there.

Here's the math:

Capacitor #1 gets charged up to 12 volts.
Capacitor #2 gets charged up to 12 volts.
Capacitor #3 gets charged up to 12 volts.
Capacitor #4 gets charged up to 12 volts.
Capacitor #5 gets charged up to 12 volts.

You now have 60 volts of electricity if you remove these caps from the divider and re-connect them in series, don't you?

THAT'S what I mean by multiplied voltage, and it's all done AT THE EXPENSE OF THE CURRENT, which in the divider becomes a fifth of whatever current level was applied to the current divider.

Sheesh.

Now that is right! You never mentioned anything about physically disconnecting the caps from the parallel circuit, and reconnecting them series. Why you would want to do that is beyond me, as the goal was to spread out the voltage and current in branches to manageable levels.

BennyF
04-08-10, 11:36 AM
I said a long, long time ago that the patent office would be able to understand my circuit diagrams very easily, and they really are very easy.

1. A current divider, with a few hundred branches, to reduce the 100KA peak current down to about 1,000 amps (or less)

2. A voltage divider in each branch, consisting of hundreds if not thousands of HV capacitors, to reduce the approx. 500MV peak voltage in a negatively-charged lightning bolt down to a voltage level that's less than the voltage rating on each cap in the series.

3. Some special circuitry to handle any positively-charged lightning bolts that might come along, and

4. Some special circuitry to handle the much higher (maybe double) voltage level of those positively-charged lightning bolts.

PLEASE, EVERYBODY, ignore the question of whether such an apparatus is economically feasible, and what I might or might not do with all this stored electricity. I posted this topic mainly to answer questions, but those questions can't be answered now because economic conditions will be different, maybe very different, by the time I receive the patent that I happen to think I will get.

The U.S. Patent Office doesn't care about the answers to any of these economic questions. All they care about is the science of electricity (and other physics subsets) and whether a capacitor (or two) CAN get charged by a lightning bolt.

I aim to show them that an apparatus that includes a current divider and a voltage divider CAN charge capacitors, using lightning as my sole source of electricity.

Benny

BennyF
04-08-10, 11:58 AM
You never mentioned anything about physically disconnecting the caps from the parallel circuit, and reconnecting them series. Why you would want to do that is beyond me, as the goal was to spread out the voltage and current in branches to manageable levels.

At this stage in my ECONOMIC planning, I intend to discharge the caps one at a time until all the electricity has been drained, but that's part of the economic planning that I don't have to worry about until after I get a patent.

Discharging the caps won't even be a part of my patent application anyway. All I'm concerned about, at least right now, is simply showing the patent office that my charging circuitry WILL do what I say it will do.

I may not even mention lightning in the patent application documents, which are still being developed.

Benny

BennyF
04-08-10, 12:13 PM
An addemdum on my last post.

The U.S. Patent Office has a numbered classification system, to distinguish a patent on a plumber's tool from a patent on a kitchen appliance.

The numbered class that I believe my patent will go into is for charging a capacitor. The patents that have already been granted/issued in this category do not mention the source of the electricity that is used to charge the caps. There are many different methods for charging a cap, according to the texts of the patents in this category, and none of them even specify a voltage level or a current amount, except to show how a voltage level higher than a given amount (never specified in volts) CAN be diverted away from the cap being charged.

My patent may or may not state that lightning will be the source of the voltage that charges the caps in my circuit diagrams. I'm still debating this point as I edit the patent application, all without the help of a patent attorney or a registered patent agent.

Billy T
04-08-10, 12:32 PM
... Sometime AFTER I receive a patent, I'll do some extensive economic planning to determine the feasibility of collecting and storing DC electricity (using then-current rates, not today's rates) and the economics of selling hydrogen and oxygen from the output of an electrolyzer. All costs, including the prices for hydrogen and oxygen may very well be different by the time I get my patent, which I expect will be two good years from now.A perfect example of the cart before the horse. A rational person makes at least a crude economic model before seeking a patent on a new means of producing hydrogen, which even the simplest model can show it at least 1000 times MORE expensive than the current means of producing hydrogen.

Perhaps you do not know that it will cost you at least $3000 to get a patent. I have 10 patents, but only paid for one at less than half the normal cost. (My employer paid for the 9 others and owns them. Two are secrete patents, relating to detection of submarines. I am enjoined not to even tell their names. The US navy holds many patents, they will not sell. They do this so they will not need to pay any later inventor.) My cost was low because I was able to get a friend in my employer's patent office to help with the drawings.

I have had a couple of courses in engineering drawing with one afternoon lab each week for a year when at Cornell so am quite skilled in this area, but would never try to make drawings as the patent office requires. For example, they must be done with India ink. The width of the lines is specified and several different widths are required as the width does indicate information also. Patent drawings are a highly specialized profession. Only a fool would attempt to do his own. My friend in the patent office was a professional - My employer submitted about 300 applications each year and he did more than half of them. He only charged me $750 (or $500, I forget) dollars, as I recall (and that was more than 30 years ago).

Don't you think it would be wise to check the economic feasibility BEFORE you spend several thousand dollars conforming to the detailed requirements of the USPTO on the most economically silly plan I have ever heard of?

I tried to think of a comparably economic silly idea / plan one could patent. Best I could come up with was a new way to make bricks. - Basic idea was two take free beach sand (like your "free" lightning) and then mix it with a moderate fast glue (with a cost like your capacitors) and then with my patented super sonic air gun, shoot the moist sand particles, one at a time, into a brick shaped steel form which had hinges so the firm brick could be removed the next day (sort of like you waiting several weeks for the next lightning strike).

Woops, I should not have told you the details of this new brick making method. - You may beat me to the patent office as you believe one should patent first and then do the economic analysis AFTER the patent is issued.

Benny your have more than a dozen carts before one horse.

PS
It is also wise to do a patent search before spending the money on a patent application. I do not know about now, but 30 years ago, you could do that yourself. I did as I worked in Maryland, not far from the USPTO. It was a fascinating couple of afternoons. My patient relates to solar energy use. One patent I found in that field was for an airplane with cylindrical lens glass wings. The inventor hope to make a fortune selling such planes to the army - On sunny days, he suggested they could fly over the enemy's trenches and at least blind the soldiers if not set them on fire. Yes you may be able to get a patent, but I assure you no one will buy it from you and you will find it totally useless to try to use yourself.

BennyF
04-08-10, 12:39 PM
Billy, please read post #229, which I left just for your benefit.

BennyF
04-08-10, 12:45 PM
Perhaps you do not know that it will cost you at least $3000 to get a patent. I have 10 patents, but only paid for one at less than half the normal cost. (My employer paid for the 9 others and owns them.) My cost was low because I was able to get a friend in my employer's patent office to help with the drawings.

I have had a couple of courses in engineering drawing with one afternoon lab each week when at Cornell so am quite skilled in this area, but would never try to make drawings as the patent office requires. For example, they must be done with India ink. The width of the lines is specified and several different widths are required as the width does indicate information also. Patent drawings are a highly specialized profession. Only a fool would attempt to do his own.

Maybe you haven't heard, Billy, but patent applications can now be done ELECTRONICALLY, which means you shouldn't be buying any stock in companies that make India ink.

http://www.uspto.gov/patents/process/file/efs/index.jsp




Maybe you haven't heard this, either, but patent attorneys and agents aren't legally required when submitting an application.

Billy T
04-08-10, 12:54 PM
Billy, please read post #229, which I left just for your benefit.I sure will, soon after you reply to post 153. It explains how you came to be so ignorant about the physics of electrical energy storage. (It has nothing to do with how silly your idea is economically.)

BennyF
04-08-10, 01:09 PM
Billy, I haven't explained my concepts very well, and I'm hanging my head in shame for that, because I earned good grades in my English classes.

Physics continues to be an interesting subject for me to study, especially now that I've seen the patent office website, now that I've searched the applicable class and subclass, and now that I've satisfied myself that nobody (I said NOBODY) has ever been able to generate a single volt of electricity, using lightning as his sole power source.

There just aren't any patents on storing that much juice, no matter how you measure it.



Oh, and Billy, from now on, I'm going to assume that you HAVE read post #229, and will not ask for comment on economic matters unless I bring them up myself.

Benny's Goals:
1. Patent
2. Profit

Notice the alliteration?