Harnessing the power of the elements

Posted by Chuck Harrell on Dec 12, 2014 8:38:44 AM

lighteningMan's desire to harness the power of the elements is never ending. We continue to have a degree of success with solar and wind power and even tidal motion of the waves can be captured and used to power homes. The heat from the earth's core can power steam turbines and even the kinetic energy of footsteps has been used to control the lights in London's subways but one element that we can't capture yet is perhaps the one that intrigues us the most.

Lightening captures our imaginations with its forks that light up the night sky as it bounces around on its way through the atmosphere but is it really worth us investing any energy in trying to harness it?

Let's look at the math. A single bolt of lightening contains approximately 300 kilowatt hours of energy. That seems like quite a lot, but considering that an average home uses roughly 900 kilowatts a month, a single both therefore only provides a third of the energy required for one home and with 115 million homes in the U.S. alone, four billion bolts a year would be needed.

Capturing that random energy is the problem. At present, there is not accurate method of predicting where and when a lightening strike will occur. This makes it nearly impossible to move the capturing device into place fast enough to capture the energy. Also needed is capturing devices such as lightening rods, kites, or lasers in every location. It's hardly worth the investment.

So maybe the best way to using the power of lightening is to simply switch off the lights and the television and during the next storm, use it as your entertainment.

Topics: Did you know?

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