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When we think about faults, like the Loma Prieta or the San Andreas, we think of big earthquakes every fifty years, and between them is happy fun time.
This isn't the case - in reality, tremors occur all of the time along earthquake faults and their various subfaults.
Even the smallest of these
tremors generates a large amount of energy - it would have to, to move big chunks of earth even a quarter of a millimeter.
So why not harness this to power the human population? It seems only fair - earthquake smashes building, but we steal its energy...yes...its glorious energy...
Place a grid or other layout of wire just below the ground in earthquake-prone areas. Place strong magnets on flexible poles above the grid. Even some of the slightest tremors would move the magnets, which generates a change in the magnetic field, which generates a charge in the wires, which could be fed into the local power grid or could be stored in batteries of some form.
Bonus feature: A bunch of swaying magnets on poles might be considered art.
I got your earthquake harnessing scheme right here!
[bungston, Feb 25 2005]
||But a fraction of a millimetre of movement in the magnets won't generate much power. I agree that there is a massive amount of energy available when a fault moves, but I think it could be difficult to harvest a meaningful percentage of it.
||I think the problem with this idea is
that, as [david_s] rightly points out,
most movements in an earthquake zone
as so small as not to provide significant
||Conversely, when the fault really shifts,
you may well realise energy using your
method, if and only if, the mechanism
survives the earthquake.
||<aside> the richter scale is logarythmic
- an earthquake richter 6.0 is 10 times
stronger than a 5.0 and 100 times
stronger than a 4.0. The earthquake
that caused the Indian Ocean Tsunami
was 9.0 ... more than a 100 times
stronger than the richter 6.9 earthquake
in San Francisco 1906. Scary.</aside>
||How about a piezoelectric gizmo? I
seem to remember that earthquakes
often generate electrical energy anyway,
through their piezoelectric effect on
quartz-containing rocks. Something
like this would be a better way to
harvest energy from a high-force, low-
||[bungston] already went Piezo. He even used the word "hut."
||[basepair] it's the quartz crystal itself
that has piezoelectric qualities so your
idea would only work if the rock
(definition : mineral mass) is made of
pure quartz. Or in other words, pure
quartzite or 100% mature sandstone -
that's a very small segment of the range
of rock types.
||jon - presumably with a quartz-
containing rock like granite, each
individual quartz crystal develops a
voltage across it? I guess the polarity
depends on the crystal axis (??)
Do you know if the electrical
anomalies reported around earthquakes
are real? I've read about them being
used (through probes in the ground) to
predict or monitor earthquakes
(presumably with not much success),
and I've heard that lightning discharges
are sometimes associated with quakes,
but I have no idea if this is sound or