It worked!

After two years of research I can finally say that I had a working prototype! Last Friday evening I did my second prototype test. Where with the first test the weather wasn’t in my favour, the second test the weather was just right. 

I lit up the balloon with the copper wire attached to it and was able to get a triggered lightning strike after 40 minutes. My Lightning to Power Converter was able to extract 8 ampere out of the strike with a voltage of 40, which comes down at about 300 watts. I know that it doesn’t sound big, you can probably run your washing machine for half a wash, but it is a very nice beginning.

The main goal of these first test was to see how many Watt my LTPC was able to convert from one lightning strike. To take my LTPC one step further I’m going to connect it to the closed power grid of my parents house, they are on holiday so they won’t even notice. I will do the test a usual and hope to able to power a part of my house out of one lightning strike. I will be testing it tonight (Monday 12th of June) if the weather conditions are favourable.

My successful prototype test got a bit of attention in the Dutch media:

Breda Vandaag (Dutch)

Omroep Brabant (Dutch)

Q-Music (Dutch) 

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!

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!

Lightning as a power source

I’m starting this vlog because I want to share my dream. To use triggered lightning as a power source. From when I was a small child I was amazed by lightning. I could watch thunderstorms for hours or sit in front of the tv for days on end watching a lightning documentary.

In the upcoming months I want to take you along on my dream to use triggered lightning as a power source. I will show you what I’m working on, how I think it is going to work and hopefully be able to test my first working prototype.

If you like my project you can follow me on this blog but also in Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.