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Nikola Tesla: Power from Lightning

Lightning Tamer

Nikola Tesla was the first electrical engineer to harness the awesome power of nature at Niagara Falls. In 1910 he tried to take harnessing the power of nature one step further. He designed a system to harness the power of lightning. J. P. Morgan shut him down.

The average lightning bolt contains a billion volts at 3,000 amps, or 3 billion kilowatts of power, enough energy to run a major city for months. The United States gets hit with 4,000 lightning bolts a day.

Lightning is a discharge of static electricity. The idea of using electrostatic energy for power is not a new one. Benjamin Franklin built an electrostatic motor in the eighteenth century.

Nikola Tesla was the first to conceive of using a tower to attract lightning and harness it. Tesla did not believe in pilot projects.

We do. The system shown in the photo will deliver enough power to light a 25-watt light bulb for slightly over 6 seconds using a static discharge source from a rectifier, which in turn gets its electricity from a wall socket. Any static discharge from any source will charge the capacitors in this system. Capacitors, unlike batteries, can be charged instantaneously.

The wall socket is for convenience. Scale this device up and you could charge it with a lightning bolt (not something we would recommend at this point. Make a mistake and you’ll be vaporized).

This may not look like much but:

1. It works.

2. The principle can be modified and scaled up.

3. The device may look crude, the work area cluttered and the power it produces short-lived.

Now go back exactly 100 years to the first flight of the Wright Brothers airplane at Kitty Hawk in 1903.

Their first flight lasted twelve (12) seconds.


Did Nikola Tesla invent the multiple wave oscillator?


Alternative Energy for the 21st Century

Index to Mike Brown's Alternative Energy

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This page was updated on 5 November 2011