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hi all,
is it possible to somehow harness electrical energy from lightning, using some suitable circuitry ?
the problem with lightening is that it has a lot of power in a short amount of time. so in order to use it, you willl have to store the energy.
but the problem is how? the quantity of energy in the lightining is quite great, you can power your home for quite some time.
one idea of storing it is to use a gigantic electro-magnet wich will be powered by the lightning and will compress something in a tank with a giant piston. then the gas or liquid will come out of the pressurized tank and will turn a generator. but the efficency is ......well.......close to 0%.
Yeah, the first attempts to harness lightning weren't too successful, they were like the predecessor to the capacitor, it was called the layden jar, now if you could build one that was large enough, sure, you could possibly do it.

The layden jar is just what it say, it's a jar, on the inside are two pieces of foil surrounded by a thick insulator, when the foil had stored enough electricity in it, and the two contacts were touched to a conductor, BOOM! it would release them, however, if the insulator was too thick, and the jar charged to full capacity, it could easily jump the insulator, and hit you while you were carrying it.

This method is not a good idea.

So far there have been no good ideas on how to harness lightning, and there probably won't be any for several hundred years simply because it is difficult to contain that kind of raw power without being injured.
The idea of making a safe layden jar is having the insulator thin enough, and the contacts close enough that when the jar's capacitance is exceeded, the lightning will jump both and normalize.

The only other way I can think to harness lightning would be similar to bogdan's idea, except mine would be an electromagnet that cranked a gyro to create power, with a ****load of circuitry to slow the discharge to one that might actually be useable.

So I'd probably need a 10 foot carbon film rod (a GIANT resistor), a bunch of super capacitors (In excess of 10,000 to store the charge), a large transformer, and a large electromagnet to crank a large motor.
i have thought about that idea a few times. if you could link enough capacitors in a series-parallel fashion to form a large net. then harness the lightning and then slowly bleed off the current into battery banks
Using caps would be pretty tough, The lightning can jump from the sky to the ground. What would you use as a dielectric?
Lightning is a rather intense and short lived source of electricity however air moving past a conductor can and does cause some electrons to flow for longer periods with less intensity. I've seen the static jump from my large wire antenna leads. Gas moving in a pipeline with ball valves surrounded by polymers is known to arc over from the handles to the valve body. This leads me to wonder if a conductive array of some description could be used to take advantage - wind power but without all the mechanical equipment normally used to generate electricity. Obviously any array would have to withstand an occasional lightning hit though it might not be worth attempting to capture the energy surge.
Would it be possible to somehow harness the energy stored in the sky before it neutralizes itself as lightning? I'm thinking some sort of tall tower that somehow allows the charge in the clouds to get to the ground in a more controlled way than KAPOW!
Lightning strikes cause millions of dollars damage to power companies every year.
They would pay you millions "to somehow harness the energy".
Good Luck!
Here are some nice pictures of lightning strikes to power lines:
**broken link removed**
tall towers

I've seen footage on the Discovery channel where some people connected a model rocket to some kind of conducting wire and sent it into the clouds during a thunderstorm. It of course caused lightning to strike the rocket. I think this would be a more feasible means of "controlling" the strike than a tower. Although you have to replace the rocket and wire after every strike...
Lightning doesn't always strike the highest point.
Here is a picture of lightning striking a valley with nearby mountains:
**broken link removed**
One of the best photographers of lightning is Gene Moore.
"I have many shots of lighting hitting in the near vicinity of a tower and not striking it."
**broken link removed**
simply spectacular:
**broken link removed**
Hi Halibut

You are right in stating that researchers can induce lightning strikes ( as seen on the discovery channel). However that in no way insinuates that lightning can be "controlled" The strikes that are induced completely destroy the rocket and it's wire "tail" that is grounded

The energy that is released from a lightning bolt can not yet be harnessed by any type of storage system that scientests know of today.

The power from a bolt of lightning can be as much as a small city would require for one day. We have no way yet to capture such a large amount of energy, store it, and then distribute it in a useable form.
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