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Lightning Containment System

Lightning strikes towers connected to an electrical containment system below ground consisting of flywheels
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(please please excuse any spelling errors. Thanks)

Lightning has forever been facinating to me. To capture its power would solve alot of problems. But I have yet to find any ideas on how to harness its power. Most are like the gas engine which only gives us a few percent of the actual energy created.

I propose creating very large flywheels (like a childs top) to capture lightning. One Lignthing Containment System (LCS) would contain 100's of "Units". Each unit would consist of a flywheel that would pivot and be suspended by a magnetic feild within a vacuum (the magnets provide the zero surface friction and the vacuum zero air friction.) All these units would be installed underground for heat disapation and for safety. Lightning rode towers above ground will be connected to all the units through high strength, high cunductive composit material (I can't recall the product but it is 5x more cunductive than any metal and is being used to replace all high voltage lines).

When lightning strikes, the charge will be split to all the units. Each unit will act like an electric motor and an eletric generator. Just as the eletric charge will turn the fly wheel creating motion (potentail energy), that motion will later reproduce eletricity.

Picture a childs "Top" that has a 120ft dia. at the equator and the poles are 30 ft wide. Its at the equator that I would put the generator and the motor at the wide poles. When the charge hits the motor part, it will spin the flywheel. Sense its within a vacuum and incased within a magnic "bearing", there is virtually no friction. Probably wouldn't hurt to have it up to a couple thousand RPMs so to capture as much energy as possible. It also would greatly reduce the strain that would be produce if started from a stand still.

Over charging will not be a problem either. Each unit "breaker" will trip at so many RPMs. When all the units are at their RPMs, the rest of the charge will bleed off into the ground. Also, the higher the lightning rode the better. It will reduce the amount of heat created when it does strike the tower which is just wasted energy that can't be harnesed.

Using flywheels to store electricity is not knew and is used on a much smaller scale in cars and some satalites in orbit. Plus, this design wouldn't need another major system to create the electrisity like a nuclear or cole power plants have to (steem). This also includes any need for secondary storage units. The fly wheel is a storage unit. It wouldn't matter if its 99% or 1% "charged" it could be topped off at any time.

Thanks for your time and meaningful comments are welcome.

Dino875, Aug 24 2003

Vaisala Lightning Explorer http://www.lightnin...mapdisplay_free.jsp
Vaisala Lightning Explorer displays recent lightning activity across the entire continental U.S [Brummo, Oct 17 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

Animated Lightning Strike map of Europe - http://www.wetterze...de/pics/sfanim.html
[Brummo, Oct 17 2004, last modified Oct 21 2004]

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       It's deja-vu all over again...
Cedar Park, Aug 24 2003

       Instead of using the lightning strike directly, why not use the slowly building charge between the earth and the lightning cloud? A huge bank of ultracapacitors could be grounded on one side, and connected to a lightning-attracting tower on the other. The tower would be designed in such a way as to spread out the charge and not initiate a strike (probably with a massive surface area). If the lightning did strike, an auto-resetting fuse would blow between the capacitors and the tower, thus isolating the capacitors instantly. Stored power could then be bled off into the subterranean flywheels as the charge builds up in the clouds again.
TIB, Aug 24 2003

       TIB- Actually, you have a good point. But I think that if each LCS unit had a capacitor built into it, then a switch wouldn't be needed. The instant over charging of the line would go directly to the flywheel. The only thing that would have to be done would be to reset the breaker connecting the line to the capacitor. Another idea would be to set up a sensor that would detect too high a charge near the tower and trip the breaker ahead of time. Just like in your home's electric panel, its beter to trip it your self then have it do it on its own. To many trips and it has to be replaced.   

       Thanks alot for your comments. :-)
Dino875, Aug 24 2003

       Why not just build everything underground?
Ander, Aug 24 2003

       I am clueless regarding the technological thing, but one practical thing "strikes" me. How do you know where the lightning will strike? It can't be cost-effective to place your system across the whole earth surface. Around where I live (Sweden) lightning is a non-frequent occurance and it doesn't happen at the same place each time.
Brummo, Aug 24 2003

       Sweden, if I recall has a much higher altitude then the plains of the USA. The high the altitude, the less lightning your going to get. The mountains easly exchange charges with the clouds thus no lightning.   

       Here in the states as with much of the US, lightning is frequent. You're right in that you'll never be able to predict where and when lightning will hit. So to maximize the strike frequency, finding the locations that have the most lightning strikes would be the best idea.   

       Everthing would be located under the ground except the tower of course. When something is spinning 10's of thousands RPM's and for some reason structurally fails.... I really would not want to be within 5 miles of it. That is IF it were above ground. :-)
Dino875, Aug 25 2003

       // Sweden, if I recall has a much higher altitude then the plains of the USA. The high the altitude, the less lightning your going to get. The mountains easly exchange charges with the clouds thus no lightning. //   

       That would explain why they never have lightning in Colorado. Nice pseudo-science.
waugsqueke, Aug 25 2003

       " If the lightning did strike, an auto-resetting fuse would blow between the capacitors and the tower, thus isolating the capacitors instantly" Tib   

       Good luck with that. Fuses dont blow like that, and when they blow they dont resest. Your maybe talking about magnetic disconects but that wont work either. There is no way to prevent surges of that magnitude the only thing you can do is learn how to either a) cope with it b) divert the lightning away from the system.
ramasule, Apr 04 2004


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