Capacitor to store lightning?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by cato, Sep 21, 2004.

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  1. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    Here I think BennyF may have a point at least correct 25 or so years ago.

    I am very frugal guy - do almost every thing for myself, by myself, but I did talk to APL's patent group, which files about a patent each week, before doing my own. I would never have made so many general claims, each one a little more specific than the prior ones, so I hired (for after hours private work) one of APL's patent experts to write my claims.

    I had a high quality drafting courses at Cornell -two three hour labs each week for one year. Yet when I looked into it, and listened to what the APL patent office told me and did*, I decided to hire a patent specalized draftsman to make my India ink drawings.

    I don't know if the requirement are still so detailed or not, but back then you had to know which pen tip to use to get the lines exactly the width required with the slope them at just the specified angles to convey specific information, etc. Circuit drawing may be easier.

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    * they too hired professional patent draftsmen.
     
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  3. BennyF Registered Senior Member

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    Not quite. I stated my reason for wanting to scale up the voltage. You just don't remember it.

    Typical lightning bolts carry a lot of current in addition to a lot of voltage. Average current values that I saw (and reported) were in the tens of thousands of amps. As a circuit designer, I was worried about burned-out wires, so I designed a current divider with hundreds, maybe thousands of branches to reduce the possibility that a wire could overheat, burn out, and cause other wires to have to absorb an extra share of the current.

    As soon as I had decided on a cap bank, I saw that each and every branch would have the same amount of voltage potential from one end of the bank to the other. This was the initial reason why I said that I could multiply the voltage from hundreds of millions of volts to tens of billion volts.

    Later on, I found out that some of the other components (like the caps themselves) would have trouble handling high current levels, even for very short duration events like a lightning strike, so that became an extra incentive to use a cap bank as part of my design.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2011
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  5. BennyF Registered Senior Member

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    According to the Yahoo article I posted a couple of hours ago, the patent "system" is about to be changed, and the President, like him or hate him, is in favor of those changes.

    After it changes, you and I will both need to update our understanding of the changes.

    Benny, an admirer of Mr. Franklin
    (... and an admirer of Mr. Edison, holder of the world's record for the most number of US Patents ever awarded to a single human being.)
     
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  7. MacGyver1968 Fixin' Shit that Ain't Broke Valued Senior Member

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    Oh...I remember....it was the source of many lulz. To get around a problem of high current, you created an even greater problem of containing ultra-high voltage...voltage so high it could arc to a low-orbit satellite.

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  8. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    Moving back away from the patent thing, I don't think anyone has covered a very basic but also VERY important fact regarding an idea like this : The RC Time Constant involved.

    Since by it's very nature, a device to perform what's been described here would, by necessity, involve very high values of resistors and capacitors. We're talking about huge numbers of ohms and farads.

    Anyone that's made it through a basic electricity course should be familiar with the age-old RC circuit - and possibly even experimented with one (it's such a simple thing).

    Simply put, you multiply the values of the resistance and capacitance and the result is the time it takes for the capacitor to charge up to the level of the applied voltage. Here's even a little on-line calculator that will even do the simple bit of math for you - just plug in the numbers: http://hughestech.com/rc_calculator/

    Given that the duration of a typical lightening strike is 35 milliseconds, once you check that against the rise time (and value) of what you get from the RC calculation, I believe you'll discover that the capacitors in this proposal are NOT going to capture enough power to be worth bothering with.
     
  9. BennyF Registered Senior Member

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    Patents can now be filed electronically. I don't know when this became acceptable, but I've seen the requirements for an electronically-filed patent. Here's a start on your research.

    http://www.uspto.gov/patents/ebc/about.jsp

    One of the few acceptable file formats for an electronic application is PDF. The software I use for composing my circuit drawings has the ability to save the drawings in that format, so I'm covered in that respect.

    The rest of the text must be in text files. You cannot send in an application that includes a Microsoft Word file or any other file produced by a word processor. It must be plain text, in a standard text file format.

    The patent office is worried about malicious software, and that seems to be the reason for limiting the number of file formats, although ZIP formats are also acceptable.
     
  10. BennyF Registered Senior Member

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    That sounds suspiciously like an attempt to get me to reveal my circuit design.

    I'll pass on that idea, if you don't mind. Please remember three facts.

    1. My patent application will be limited to an original idea for charging a capacitor.

    2. I will not begin to set up any physical equipment until I find out whether my application has been granted. The patent office backlog is now about three years, but I can wait.

    3. Nobody has seen my circuits but me.
     
  11. MacGyver1968 Fixin' Shit that Ain't Broke Valued Senior Member

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    1. Your knowledge of electronics is limited to basic dc theory by your own admission, which only includes resistors, capacitors and inductors. Since the charging of capacitors is a pretty straight forward process..the chance that you have come up with a new way of charging them using only these 3 components is incredibly unlikely.

    2. A completely bass-akwards way of engineering. To apply for a patent before even prototyping your idea to confirm it works shows you aren't playing with a full deck.

    3. No one INCLUDING you has seen your circuits, as you have never built them.
     
  12. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    To Read-Only:

    You make a very important point (Large RC time constant) in post 645. I have mainly been correcting Benny's errors /false statements. I only mentioned that the inductance, L, of his wire network distribution connecting up to more than 1000 square meters alone, would prevent the lighting from even trying to charge his array / bank of many physically large capacitors - I.e. rather than try to flow thru that L x 2(pi)F impedance, the bolt will just arc to ground from the low end of his metal collection tower.

    You put it more forcefully by noting that even if it did try to charge the capacitors if would not deliver much charge in the tiny fraction of a time constant during which the lightning pulse last.

    I guess that is closely related to what I was saying, but more clearly said: The lightning pulse cannot wait around long enough to get into the capacitors, so it just arcs to ground.

    Benny probably has no idea what you are talking about so here is a picture to help him understand why his condensers will not charge up significantly:

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    Top curve applies in your case. What is the value of your RC in seconds?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 9, 2011
  13. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    This doesn't make a lot of sense. If you think a patent means your idea works, or will make you money, you have it exactly backwards. A patent is just the right to sue, nothing more. It does not make your idea work, does not confer prestige, and does not make you any money. (And I should know - I have a half dozen, and I'm still not famous or rich!)

    If you are serious about your invention, build it and test it. If not, don't bother with a patent; spend the time and effort on something that will help you in the long run.
     
  14. BennyF Registered Senior Member

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    1. Lightning is very short bursts of HV DC. There are no sine waves in the voltage levels or the current levels.

    2. The simulated circuit may or may not be necessary. My process for charging a cap isn't that complicated.

    3. I've already drawn the cap-charging circuit on my computer.
     
  15. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    Three years is too long for us to wait so lets speculate on Benny's "original idea" for charging a capacitor. I'll go first:

    Benny plans to deep chill a room to remove the humidity, then vigorously and repeatedly rub his hair with a furry cat, touching the cat to the central pole of the capacitor every few seconds.

    He can not be planning to use wires connected to a DC power source - even he knows that was done long ago, (I think).
     
  16. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    All "bursts" are made up of sine waves. Indeed, that is how communications and power supply engineers deal with impulses, steps and bursts. Google "Fourier Analysis."
     
  17. MacGyver1968 Fixin' Shit that Ain't Broke Valued Senior Member

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    1. Irrelevant to what I brought up...using only the components that you have knowledge in, it is highly unlikely that you have created a circuit that no one in the 100 year history of electricity has though of before.

    2. Circuits on paper don't always work the way they were intended. Case in point...my 3rd quarter final project...an audio amplifier that worked great on paper but only produced high levels of noise in practice. Until you build it...you don't know if it actually works.

    3. I can draw a circuit on my computer that lets me have group sex the the Dallas Cowboy's Cheerleaders...it doesn't mean it will work in real life.

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  18. BennyF Registered Senior Member

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    Great. Now I have to respond to TWO people named Billy. Mr. Moderator, could you prevent any more Billys from posting here?

    "To be perfectly honest, which is a big part of my personal ethics, I was unaware of the "first-to-patent" rule. I didn't know that it might be possible for an evil person to attempt to get a patent based on the publicly available ideas in someone else's application. This changes things for me. As an honest inventor, I feel that it's in my best interests to wait until the rules are changed to protect those who file first, instead of those who can afford better lawyers.

    I will be shopping soon for some more parts to complete my simulated circuit, and I'll let you know, in general terms, whether I get the results I expected. These will be yes-or-no answers. After protecting my idea for as long as I have, I'm not about to let anybody steal my patent even before it's been submitted.




    To all who question my determination to get a patent:

    The US Patent Office has my name and address.
     
  19. MacGyver1968 Fixin' Shit that Ain't Broke Valued Senior Member

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    BillyT is not a mod of this subforum...His comments hold no more weight than anyone else's...including you or me.

    Are you sure you haven't been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia?
     
  20. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    You need to realize a couple of very hard facts here: First, I have ABSOLUTELY NO interest in your "circuit design" . Primarily because I know it can NOT possibly work!! How can I say that with such conviction? Because I have a VERY heavy background in electricity and electronics - more than 50 year's worth. And that was all HANDS-ON time working with real equipment. Also, Like BillyT I hold a Commercial Radio ticket (license) and have had it since Feb. 1965.

    Secondly, if you succeed or fail, it's not going to affect my personal finances is any way, shape or measure.

    What you really are not getting here is actually quite simple - your idea isn't going to effect anyone here. All we've been doing is trying to show you WHY you should stop wasting all your time, effort and some money on something that's doomed before it even starts.

    But if you choose to ignore all the sound advice you've been given you are certainly free do as you wish. Go ahead and waste the rest of your life and ALL of your money - that will have no effect on the rest of us either and will only serve to prove how foolish you are. :shrug:
     
  21. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    21,640
    I think he just wants a patent.

    There is a cultural meme out there that if you have a patent you're smart and clever, and will be successful. The beginning of the book "The Mosquito Coast" contains several accolades of the boy's father, with frequent references to the fact that he has nine patents as proof of his genius. This sort of thinking has carried over into society, where the "have an idea, get a patent and make a million dollars" angle of profiting from genius has become entrenched in our cultural psyche.

    (Needless to say this is far from reality, as ironically the conclusion of the Mosquito Coast demonstrates.)
     
  22. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, I can buy that. But in addition, there are always dozens of people at any given time that are involved in garbage like perpetual motion machines, over-unity devices and the like. There are a number of websites that pander to their foolishness by selling them all sorts of supplies, blueprints, etc.

    And the ones that market such junk know full-well that THEY are the only ones that are going to make any money from those schemes. They (the suppliers) are no different than the charlatans that sell palm-reading, fortune telling and similar stuff to the highly-gullible members of society.
     
  23. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

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    Too bad when you went back thru thread you did not copy several dozen of these foolish statements of Benny to illustrate his extreme ignorance of the subject; however, the reason I quote you is that you reminded me that for many months Benny spoke of his circuit with capacitors as able to greatly increase the voltage. (millions to billions of volts as you quoted him.)

    He has also claimed that he has carefully read all the patents already granted and they do not include his idea. Perhaps Benny has re-invented the idea that was old 100 years before Ben Franklin used it. As the idea greatly predates even the creation of the US Patent office, no one could ever have been granted a patented on it. That could explain why Benny did not find a prior patent on his idea.

    The idea I speak of still has utility in space craft where any non-essential weight is undesirable as it lets one step up (or step down) a DC voltage without use of a heavy iron transformer or "electronic choppers" which convert the DC source energy into reversing + / - square wave AC for the transformer and also avoids the need for rectifiers in the transformer's secondary circuit to make the output (of different voltage) DC again.

    The idea is so simple that Benny may have independently thought of it. For example (to follow Benny's original posts about greatly stepping up the voltage)* one charges up in parallel N identical capacitors to the lower supply DC voltage v. Then one rewires their connections to be serial instead of parallel to get much higher voltage V = Nv.

    Now days this "rewiring" can be extremely fast, done electronically thousands of times each second. So with two such circuits (one being charged up to v while the other is being discharged to supply voltage V to the load) you take in energy at v and deliver it at V without transformer, without electronic choppers, without any rectifiers to convert back to DC. (If N is more than ~3 there is a minor practical problem which is easily solved by using optically switched diodes to do the "rewiring.")

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    * Benny was so totally ignorant that he thought the increase of v to V would be a huge energy gain and spoke of large office buildings being able to disconnect from the power lines and run year round on an occasional lightning strike!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 10, 2011
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