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Global magnetic field plus wind plus conductive sails yields Direct Current
  [vote for,

In case you can't quite picture the Idea from the subtitle, first consider the Earth's magnetic field, which has "lines of force" mostly running northward and southward, from most locations on the surface of the planet.

One bit of information that tends to surprise people is a naming confusion. The thing called the world's "North Magnetic Pole" is actually the SOUTH magnetic pole of the world's overall magnetic field, even though it is located near the world's geophysical north pole. This confusion came about because in compasses, the north pole of the compass-magnet is a actually a "north SEEKING" pole, and so it is attracted to a magnetic South pole. And all other magnets got marked to be similar to compass magnets.

Next, think about prevailing winds, which mostly go from west to east, all around the world. We want some nice large traditional- looking rectangular sails for this Idea. Unlike traditional sails, these will be large enough to require significant material strength, and they must be electrically conductive. We await cloth made of carbon nanotubes for the ultimate application of this Idea, but on a slightly smaller scale, aluminum foil ought to work.

I now ask you to look at the "streetcar" link, and note how there is a kind of "wheel" where the vehicle gets power from the overhead cable. For this Idea, we need 4 cables, two that are above the tree-tops, and two more that are high above first two. It would be nice if we could run those cables across the whole east/west width of the continent --a really long distance in EurAsia! We are probably going to want 8 of those wheel-gadgets for each sail.

With respect to each sail, if the conductive material is as physically weak as aluminum foil, we will probably want a "frame" that has its corners at the four cables mentioned above. For a stronger sail material, only the upper and lower pair of frame- edges are needed. In either case, at each corner there are two of the wheel-gadgets clamping the cable between them.

At the west coast of the continent, we mount a sail onto the cables, and let the wind blow the sail across the continent, its wheels rolling along the cables. We add more sails at regular intervals. At the east end of the line, the sails are rolled up (easier to do when there are only two frame-edges) and shipped back to the west coast, perhaps by railroad, a great many at a time.

WHILE each sail crosses the continent, it directly generates Direct Current electricity. The conductive material is crossing through the lines of the planetary magnetic field in such a way that electricity should be induced to flow downward through the sail (from the upper cables to the lower cables). The frame- supports help carry current from/to the cables, spreading it across the width of the sail.

This Idea WILL work, but it is Half-Baked because the Earth's magnetic field is rather feeble, even if it is hugely extensive. I do not expect any really-large amount of power to be generated, even with each sail being a hundred meters high and a hundred meters wide, and thousands of them all across the continent. And of course whenever the wind stalls in a specific section of the "line", power stops getting generated there.

Vernon, Jul 11 2015

Streetcar http://world.nycsub...org/perl/show?13412
As mentioned in the main text. [Vernon, Jul 11 2015]

Charged Spray wind generator https://en.wikipedi..._ion_wind_generator
As mentioned in an annotation. [Vernon, Jul 12 2015]


       A variation of this Idea would use only two cross- continental cables, one high and one low. The frame- piece that connects to each cable (via wheels) is shaped like a + symbol. One axis of the + is aligned with the cable, and there are 2 wheels at each end, for ensuring the overall sail assembly doesn't escape the cable.   

       The other axis of the + is at right angles to the cable, as in the original version of this Idea. It connects to the sail material. There is a drawback here, in that both the upper + and the lower + need to be disassembled at the east end of the continent, for shipping back to the west end of the continent, and then re-assembled.   

       One thing I should have said in the original text was, the overall purpose of this Idea was to devise a simpler way to directly convert wind-energy into electricity. The only other way to do that, which I know about, that doesn't use ordinary generators, is described in the "charged spray" link.
Vernon, Jul 12 2015

       Yet another variation of this Idea ignores the Earth's magnetic field, uses ordinary sailcloth, and puts small generators in the wheels. We WOULD get significant amounts of power that way! And so, perhaps the overall system should be designed to generate power both ways at the same time!
Vernon, Jul 12 2015

       I love it. High SF! Vernon you are unquestionably a child of the golden age of science fiction. I like this as steampunk scifi. Instead of cables lets use the railroads!   

       Or make colossal ships moving slowly across the ocean, generating energy and reducing atmospheric CO2. I am picturing the SF story - several pages after being picked up by the ship, the protagonist comes to dinner with the crew and learns that the CO2 is being converted into sugars, 95% of which is converted to rum. The remainder powers the crew.
bungston, Jul 12 2015

       Thinking of sailrail: it must have been proposed. If not done: I have been reading about WW1 naval battles and saw that many of the destroyers had masts in with their smokestacks. Why not on a train? It seems very Miyazaki. Maybe I have seen it somewhere?   

       I picture the mast lying unrecognized back along the length of the train then being hoisted up and sail unfurled to catch the Midwestern wind.
bungston, Jul 12 2015


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