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Lightning Is Power

Cloud Generator versus Cables-In-the-Sky
  [vote for,

Lightning is power. Lightning on Earth is consistently-if only for a fraction of a second-hotter than the surface of the Sun. One strike of lightning can power a light bulb for months Since Lightening can produce temperatures hotter than the surface of the Sun, and just in case someone doesn't remember elementary school science-the Sun is hot enough on its surface to melt any element, we can not just put up cables to the sky unless we like melted noodles and, duh, no power. Why not mimic Mother Nature and generate our power from our own clouds?

Fundamentals of electricity quickly link Electricity with magnetism. Chemistry and Mr. Neato tricks show us running tap water bends toward a highly charged static electricity poles. Trying to make the fusion of hydrogen into helium via tokamak reactors- gives me the idea-within clearly borrowed ideas- that we contain water in our man-made clouds within a containment apparatus similar to a tokamak reactor. the reasons for a tokamak-type reactor is that with lesser amounts of power generated, we are capable of not directly generating electricity which like surface-of-the-sun hot plasma of nuclear materials- is too much for us to handle with any other "material." Let the massive generated magnetism be siphoned off in more useable denominations of energy.

The tokamak-type cloud generator has drawbacks of size and complexity- and the obvious, I'm-no-physicist-and can't-begin to assess the viability of this idea, which are all daunting challenges. As with tokamak reactors, energy must be pumped in to generate energy out, this might not be feasible as more energy might be all lost trying to trigger generation. Size limits this idea to lesser powered units like a personal residence sized machine- but the bulky and complex array of magnets needed to prime this reaction of tickling Zeus into grabbing a thunderbolt is possibly another limiter. I'm limited in math currently and am unlikely to do anything other than just muse on this idea too.

Cloud Generators: another idea for grabbing hold of the power around and wielding it to our desires. Cloud generators somehow utilizing principals of magnetism, static attraction/repulsion of water, and the tokamak reactor as a apparatus of manipulation may be the way to be your own Zeus and toss lightning to your electric needs. Size, Complexity, and my ignorance currently hold this idea back from implementing it into reality. Do you want to hold the power of the gods?

smallrougeone, Nov 25 2007

Properties of Lightning http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning
Source of numerics [csea, Nov 25 2007]

Rockets to draw lightning http://www.nature.c...5/full/431120a.html
[MisterQED, Nov 26 2007]


       OK, let me see if I have this straight:
1. Lightning is power.
2. We can make a cloud in a tokamak.
3. It's as big as a house.

       If there's an idea there, I missed it.
lurch, Nov 25 2007

       Idea in blander form. making and harvesting clouds in an admittedly vague way involving magnetically containing or leashing a cloud-such as in a tokamak reactor and in a safer method-again vague- of pulling off our energy from excess magnetism versus direct current.
smallrougeone, Nov 25 2007

       I'm with [lurch] - all I see here is "Maybe we can create lightning".   

       Hm. Since every single lightning-harnessing idea has collapsed miserably so far (which isn't to claim that the next one will too, mind you, but...keep your money in the flying cars is my response to that, but I digress), should we not simply wait until we can harness it before we start thinking about how to create it, which if we can harness it, I hardly think we will need to create it artificially... Did I misread this?
globaltourniquet, Nov 25 2007

       As you mentioned, if you create clouds artificially, the energy that goes into creating them will outway the usable energy you can get out of them.   

       An idea which is currently under development is kites that have wind turbines on them and fly in the jetstream. You could possibly add to that idea by having collectors along the cable which could take advantage of differences in static charge whenever it occured. That would actually prevent lightning as there would never be a large enough potential difference to cause a discharge.   

       However, having kites which are only useful when there are thunderclouds would be rather inefficient.
marklar, Nov 25 2007

       "One point twenny-one Giga Watts!"
Jinbish, Nov 25 2007

       Lightning is not power. Power is the ability to do continuous work (without reference to time.) Lighting may be characterized a transfer of energy, which is generally measured in joules, or watt-seconds. A reasonable estimate of the energy in a 300 meter bolt is 500 MJ. This assumes 1 billion volts, 100kA, producing 100Terawatts for 5 microseconds. [link] - for no idea.
csea, Nov 25 2007

       I'm prepared to hold the kite string if it helps.
MaxwellBuchanan, Nov 25 2007

       There is a professor in FL who has been firing rockets with tether wires into cloudy skies to draw lightning to his tower test system. (link) It is scary but probably could produce a lot of power if you could get big enough super capacitors to store it all.
MisterQED, Nov 26 2007

       A few votes for nay to the ideas direction. One vote for improper use of language. But the redemption of links to other ideas. Back to standing out in the rain to await a different epiphany.
smallrougeone, Nov 26 2007

       //big enough super capacitors// ... ideally you'd suspend large masses of water vapour in a weak structure high above the earth and use them
vincevincevince, Nov 26 2007

       //and just in case someone doesn't remember elementary school science-the Sun is hot enough on its surface to melt any element, we can not just put up cables to the sky unless we like melted noodles and, duh, no power//   

       And just in case anyone doesn't remember their university level calculus and materials science, - the duration of a lightning strike is so short that it's easy to keep the temperature of the conductor below melting. Just make it out of a) a highly conductive material b) one with a reasonably high specific heat, and c) one with a suitably high melting point, and d), one that conducts heat readily to the cleverly designed heat sinks, if necessary.   

       Such as copper.   


       oh, sp. //denominations// quanta. That's the word you were looking for, right?
Custardguts, Nov 28 2007


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