3 Oct 2003 Bram   » (Master)

Lightning Thermal Energy

Here's my plans for a lightning thermal energy plant -

Go to a place which gets lots of lightning. Dig a deep hole. Extend outwards from the bottom of the hole a bunch of spokes of some highly conductive substance. At the bottom of the hole put a conductive plate attached to all the spokes. Fill the hole with carbon. (Or maybe with tungsten. Carbon is cheaper but more fragile.) On top of the filled hole put a ventilated faraday cage with low heat conductivity. In the faraday cage put a stirling engine. To the top of the faraday cage attach a very long lightning rod.

The idea here is to get the lightning to go through the carbon despite it being a resistor. There are several technical problems here -

  • The lightning might go down the lightning rod but jump around the carbon block
  • There might not be enough energy in the lightning to be useful, or not enough of it might get changed into heat
  • There needs to be some reasonable substance for building the faraday cage out of
  • The lightning may follow the cable carrying the electricity out, despite absurd amounts of shielding. If desperate, this can be fixed by emitting the energy as a focused microwave beam or something along those lines.

Anyone with more engineering knowledge than me know if these problems can be overcome?

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