What a week!

Damm, what a week it has been. As you may have read in my previous blogs / tweets, I had planned this week to go to four different cities to measure the electric current in the air. So that I could find a good spot to test my Lightning to Power Converter. But also check if my measurement matched my hypothesis that some places have more electrical activity than others.

I built a device that could measure the positive and negative current in the air through copper wire and a couple of sensors. Beside that the tool I built was heavy (30 kilo or more) it also wasn’t very stable. I would have hoped to measure at a minimum hight of 3 meters above the ground. But when I lifted my tool it snaps halfway.

First I did my measurements in Breda, as you can see in the video above shot by a acquaintance of me. People looked very weird at me, I think that they don’t understand what hard work science can be. It is very underestimated among people who aren’t in the scene.

Then I went on to go to Amsterdam. All went well, till I wanted to travel back home. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram you may no where this is heading to. I don’t have a car and traveling with a bike to Amsterdam from Breda is a bit far, so I chose to travel with train instead. When I was nearly home the train stared to smell very weird and smoke was coming from the rear. The train conductors where a bit panicked and ran to the back of the train to get people out of there. Wasn’t really sure what was going on, the only thing I knew was that the weren’t really happy with my travel gear to say the least.

There was an emergency brake in the middle of god knows where and we all had to leave the train as fast a possible. As you may know my gear was in its most transportable way 2 x 1 meters, had sharp edges and swell out into the hallways. So in the heat of the moment I was able to rip some sensor out and left my stuff in between seats.

When outside of the train the fire department came to check the train and in the end deport us from the train track. With all the trouble it took me almost 3 hours to travel a distance that normally takes one hour. But in the end I managed to take a beautiful picture of the sunset on a place most people won’t come!

Puntje bij paaltje (as we say in the Dutch) I’m still looking for a good spot to test my first LTPC prototype. But I’m very confident that when I find the perfect location, my prototype will work!

Update – Lightning Maps

Last Wednesday I had a live video on my Facebook and Twitter. If you missed it, you can watch the time-lapse above this blog or go to my Facebook (link) to watch the whole two-hour live video.

During this live video I looked at weather maps of the Netherlands that displayed the lightning strikes that happened between the period of 2004 and 2008. In total I looked and compared 4 places on 500 different lightning maps. The places that I looked at in particular where Breda, Eindhoven, Amsterdam and Groningen.

The result of my research concluded that during the period of 2004 and 2008 those 4 places had a very different lightning ratio. During those 1.461 days there where over 500 days where there where more than 10 lightning strikes in the Netherlands.

The results per city where as followed:

  • Breda: ±120 days
  • Eindhoven: ±74 days
  • Amsterdam: ±58 days
  • Groningen: ±35 days

These differences are very big and to make my hypothesis more convincing, I’m going to test the amount of positive and negative particles in the air in those different places. I will be starting in Breda and hope to expand to different cities very soon.

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Update – Lightning spots

Just a small update of what I’m currently working on. I’ve found some interesting reports while doing some location research for the wiring test. I’ve looked at lightning strikes in the Netherlands in May 2004 till 2017, and some peculiar details came up.

I have found out that in these last 13 years, when there where lightning strikes in The Netherlands, they almost always striked near the same places. Why that is the case I’m not really sure. I’ve looked at wind on different levels, humidity, temperature and water currents. But I wasn’t able to pinpoint the exact reason why it happened on those places.

One place got me most interested. From 2004 till 2017 there was a place in The Netherlands that almost never got hit in May. In the north of The Netherlands (Groningen) there is a place that was only hit twice in this period. Even when there where severer thunderstorms near that location, that placed got spared.

To be absolutely sure that it isn’t a coincidence, I’m going to spit through all months from 2004 till 2017 to find out if it is recurring. Because it is a lot of data (5000+ lighting maps), I could use some help! Please send me a message via Twitter / Facebook or email, there will be beer and pizza!

Link to the lightning maps

The power of lightning

Lightning is one of the most powerful things we know, but it’s also something that we don’t fully understand. If we knew the full potential of lightning we would already use it as a power source and don’t waste al its energy.

Trough some research I’ve calculated that if we could harvest only a small part of one lightning strike we could power an average house for more than a month.

One single lightning strike is enough to fully charge an electric car for 33.750 times.

Researches have found out that an average lightning strike produces about 5 to 200 kiloampere and voltages vary from 40 to 120 kilovolt, which is about 2.700.000 watt-hour. An average household uses approximately 48.000 watt-hour per day. So with one single lightning strike we could power an average household for 56 days.

If you count for the fact that there are 100 lightning strikes every second, which is 8 million strikes a day, which is 2,9 billion strikes a year. You would have enough power to power 163,5 billion households for a day!