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Hydrogen Generation

Free Power for Hydrogen and Oxygen creation
(+1, -1)
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FACT: Hydrogen can be created by simple electrolysis; passing current through waters which splits H2O into H2 and O2.

My Proposal: Channeling lightning down through a tower and through a facilities holding water.

Place a large number of Œ or œ mile high towers around the country in lightning prone areas using maps generated daily by the national weather service. These towers would be connected to facilities capable of holding millions of gallons of water which would also contain Hydrogen and Oxygen collectors. The Hydrogen and Oxygen would be pumped to off site storage facilities for later delivery to customers.

Given the fact that cloud-to-cloud lightning strikes far out number cloud-to-ground strikes, it would be more productive to go get the lightning. Each tower would be constructed to launch tethered rockets into thunderstorms. These rockets would create premature lightning strikes. The tether would give the lightning a path of least resistance. Rocket initiated lightning strike is important because it lessons the charge that the infrastructure would have to handle, increases the chances that the tower would be struck, and will capture lightning that would normally travel cloud-to-cloud. (I first saw the concept of rocket initiated lightning strikes on TV and have a link showing its success.)

Seeing that lightning can travel a hundred miles or so unprovoked, installing towers every 10-20 miles in prime areas would increase production. I would expect that the number of towers would eventually number into the thousands. Also understand that these towers could very well be interconnected to supply multiple production facilities. The number of towers would out number facilities easily. This may seem to be outrageous and totally unfeasible, but considering that we would not only be able to supply our country with hydrogen, it would give the United States the means to export a product that will never run out.

With hydrogen and oxygen being a gas, these to elements could be easily piped for a water source. When Hydrogen and Oxygen come to gather they create electricity AND water. This is water in its purest form. No mineral deposits, no nothing but pure water. Just think, water bottles may be a thing of the past. I would rather care a container around with 2lbs of Hydrogen / Oxygen which would create A LOT of water then 2 lbs of water.

Dino875, Aug 27 2004

Lightning Tower http://www.space.co...ghtning_030130.html
Tower launches rockets into thunderstorms to trigger lightning [Dino875, Oct 17 2004]

Lightning Incidence Map http://www.w3.weath...lightning_risk.html
Map created to generally show where lighting strikes have accured [Dino875, Oct 17 2004]

Lightning http://home.comcast...Lightning/Facts.htm
Just a site with some facts. [Dino875, Oct 17 2004]

LIPC http://en.wikipedia...uced_Plasma_Channel
An interesting idea for channeling lightning. [lurgic2, Jul 05 2006]


       To paraphrase Terry Pratchet:
'For every night that is not dark and stormy Igor can sit around clocking up the overtime'
gnomethang, Aug 27 2004

       Granted that the amount of inactivity will exceed the amount of lightning strikes, the volume of production should be more then enough to justify the downtime.   

       Realize that this is a national system that would be tied togather. So a lightning strike could likely be shared among a number of sites within a hundred miles (this is an assumtion on my part)
Dino875, Aug 27 2004

       For coming up with this idea, I sentence you to one week drinking water from a fuel cell. After a day or so, you'll be tempted to toss back a shot of motor oil just to get that gawdawful flat tasteless taste out of your throat.   

       2 lbs of (hydrogen + oxygen) yields no more than 2 lbs of water. (Conservation of mass, yes?) Unless it's done carelessly, in which case the yield fraction can go markedly below 100%.
lurch, Aug 27 2004

       Lurch I'm amused that you don't comment on primary point but something that was just a secondary thought.   

       Oh and by the way, water is suppose to be tastes. :-)
Dino875, Aug 27 2004

       Yeah, lightning appears to have a huge amount of energy. But does it? The power of lightning is extremely high, by only for a very short time. Energy is Power multiplied by time.
Let's assume that a powerful strike is 60,000A, and it lasts for 0.2 Seconds. This is the same as 3.3 Amps for an hour. So one lightning strike will produce the same Hydrogen and Oxygen as 3.3 Amps for one hour.
But if you could somehow attract all the lightning strikes, and there are 1000 of them per second (or something like that), then it is the same as a total of 12 Mega Amps - continuously. Now that is serious money.
But I don't know how you could do it.
Wouldn't the strike generate H & O simply by heating the rain over 3000C? How to capture that?
Ling, Aug 28 2004

       While I don't think this would work for power generation (not to mention irritating all those people that are tired of seeing cel-phone towers every 20 miles) the problem of storing elemental hydrogen and oxygen (both of which are prone to being part of large explosions) in close proximity to something that is not only likely to receive lightning strikes but is in fact actively looking for them would keep a room full of engineers locked in a small room for a very long time. Which keeps them off the streets and out of the pool hall. Bun!
Voltmeter, Aug 28 2004

       We've posted links to lightning catchers before. There really isn't that much power in them. You'd get more energy catching all the rainwater and using it to run a turbine.
DrCurry, Aug 28 2004

       Yeah, but who wants to do all that running around with a cup?
Worldgineer, Aug 28 2004

       I think the unmade point here is that this is the *fun* way to generate electricity, and practicality be damned, Igor.
cloudface, Aug 28 2004

       The real problem with lightning is basically finding a way to put something between the lightning and where said lightning wants to go; that is, without smoking whatever it is you're trying to power.   

       Some sort of HID tube could work, I suppose, but would require a tremendous amount of energy to prepare. Imagine a giant bank of water vapor tubes near humidity level that could survive a million or two AC volts. How this could be done, I don't have the first fucking clue. Possibly the world's greatest and best mega-capacitance high voltage capacitors....but by then a magnetic resonance storage method would seem to be the way to go, what with the ultra-powerful field generator arc inheritly provided.   

       Possibly a better way to harnass lightning would be to fly huge carbide nets, plated with some sort of magnetic material. This would sort of functin as a super-lightningrod, able to sweep a large enough quantiy of charge out of the air to do useful work. In lightning prone areas, assuming they would not torch like steel wool from a lightning strike, they could concieveably draw some measurable quantity of energy from an active lightningstorm. I don't know enough about high impedance paths to know if such an ultimately low power circuit could amount to any usable current, or whether a high-impedance ground derived from what is basically lightning strike voltages could at some point be tapped to induce something more sanely handled and transmitted. The engineering aspects of something like this really escape me...   

       Lightning seems to be one of the most obvious renewable source of energy across the globe, and yet our complete inability to draw even a part of this ether to our own advantage has driven us down a road of avoiding lightning at any cost, albeit not without reason. Yet, this could be the closest we could come to "free energy" for quite some time, with quite diametric solar power and lightning's closer cousin, wind, as the only competitors.
otmShank, Aug 28 2004

       Drat. I was going to post this exact thing.
DesertFox, Apr 12 2005

       If you run a lightning strike down some tower into a largish tank of water, do you not wind up with a big bang and lots of steam? I dunno, but I can't see this working.

Why do lightning-capture schemes always seem to rely on catching the lightning bolt? Would it not be smarter to think of a cunning way to drain the accumulating charge as it built up, thereby capturing the same amount of energy in a less spectacularly alarming way?
Basepair, Apr 12 2005

lurgic2, Jul 05 2006

       First time I've seen him mentioned on halfbakery.
lurgic2, Jul 05 2006

       By the way, see my link for a suggestion on how to channel lightning from the sky to the ground.
lurgic2, Jul 05 2006


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