Capacitor Pyramids as Energy Source. Why or why not?

Today on England’s Daily Mail news website there is a very interesting picture of a lightning storm in Las Vegas. It shows the pyramid-themed casino (Luxor, I think) being struck by lighting, at the very apex of the pyramid. This image got me to thinking…

Would it be feasible to build ‘Capacitor Pyramids’ in areas with many annual lightning storms to collect electricity? Since lightning/electricity looks for the shortest path, it seems to me a pyramid-structure would work well: the apex is the highest point, and there’s a lot of room in the pyramid to place energy collecting equipment.

Pyramids are also very long lasting if built properly; hell, if the one at Giza has been around for thousands of years and it’s built out of stone, I’m sure we could built ‘energy pyramids’ that last longer…

I know there’s probably some physic-al limitations, but geez, all those lightning strikes full of free energy… all those 1.21 gigawatt lightning strikes begging to be collected…

How would you collect the energy? The only possible way it could be useful would to be to be able to store the power, I guess in some sort of battery, but I am not sure that is at all practical or even possible. There is no way I can see how you can directly take the electricity and use it, throwing that much electricity into the system in one quick jolt like that is definetly not good for the power system.

I believe certain types of capacitors are able to handle sudden loads of electricity; why not series of capacitors that break up the huge energy burst into smaller charges?

Possibly even a “capacitor-resistor” array, in which the pyramid only takes the electricity it can handle, and sends the rest into the ground…

This page has some information:

Still sounds a bit non-likely to my ears (mainly in terms of how much land you would need to cover to get a high likelihood of getting a hit.)

Perhaps it could be made so the strike is used to convert water into H2 and 02 and used for fuel. - Another stumbling block for the hydrogen economy falls :smiley:

I may be misremembering my one semester of circuits, but aren’t capacitors lousy energy storage devices, at lest when compared to actual batteries? yes, capacitors can be charged and, more importantly, discharged very quickly, but aren’t they also a lot more prone to losing that charge to it’s internal resistance, and in your case of a large, lightning gathering one, the air itself?

You’re not the first person to come up with the idea. The problem that no one has yet been able to overcome is the fact that a lightning bolt is FREAKIN HUGE!!! To put it in perspective, your typical home AC power outlet is 120 volts at 15 amps max, or 1800 watts (watts = volts x amps). A typical lightning bolt is a few million volts at a few hundred thousand amps, which puts you up in the several hundreds of trillions of watts range. It is extremely difficult to make something that can store the energy without getting blown to bits by the huge power of the lightning bolt. Of the many ideas that I’ve seen people playing around with, large capacitor banks (though not pyramid shaped) does seem to be one of the more promising ideas. You might see something practical based on this idea someday. Who knows.

I’d think a system like that, only set up to supply a continuous voltage rather than a lightning-based occasional system, might be better.

Set up a pyramid designed to attract lightning, but put lightning rods on it that will dissipate the energy. Here’s the hard part: collect the energy as it’s being continously dissipated (diffucult since an attempt to harness the leaking energy would probably make it tend to leak somewhere else instead.)

Lightning bolts represent a huge amount of power, but only over microsecond-millisecond time scales. Thus the ENERGY is not nearly of the same scale, and much of that energy is wasted heating air (creating thunder). A moderatly sized solar array could easilly collect in a day what such a system would collect in a thunderstorm…and do so far more economically and safely.

Combine this with the fact that few places have reliable lightning storms and there are lots better ways to obtain the power needed to reanimate my ghoulish creations.

To keep a capacitor from discharging, you have to put an insulator between the plates. Put too much voltage on a capacitor, and the insulator will reach its breakdown voltage, causing an arc between the plates. At the very least, this will discharge the capacitor, and it’s very likely to damage it, as well.

Air is about the best insulator you’re likely to find. And lightning routinely makes it through a mile or more of that excellent insulator. What the heck are you going to make your capacitors out of, that’ll insulate that much better than air?

I think you would find interesting the theory that the Great Pyramids of Giza should be attributed to a much older and much more advanced civilization than the Egyptian dynasties and that in reality they were energy production/storage devices.
The theory suggests that by using coherent hydrogen ions a huge MASER beam, shaped in a vortex, was shot from the top of the pyramid to the ionosphere, creating a plasma channel which would create a shortcut and discharge back to the pyramid an immense amount of energy (comparable to lightning) through the channel, which would be stored in the pyramid which functioned as a huge capacitor.
An interesting find from the other side of the world which seems to support the theory that the pyramids were functioning as electrical devices is the discovery of a layer of mica underneath the external case of pyramids in South America.
Despite it being true or not (personally I find it the most plausible theory about the purpose of the Great Pyramids), it is still a very interesting idea which should be investigated seriously as a possible solution for clean and renewable energy.

Seems pretty implausible to me. All that lightning would ignite the wheat.

Walt & Leigh Richmond wrote a not particularly good sf novel based around the idea back in the early 60s… ‘Complete bunk’ is what I thought when I read it, even as a kid.

Do you find it more plausible than the ostensible purpose, i.e. in honour of dead kings, etc.? Seems strange to disguise the whole above-ground portion of the pyramid as a grand monument. You’d think it would impinge on the maintenance of the vast MASER apparatus underneath.

This. According to the relevant Wikipedia page the energy from a typical lighting bolt is equivalent to the energy in about 12 gallons of gasoline. Not worth the effort of building a collection system.

Although maybe enough energy to re-animate a zombie.

Or a mummy.

Koothrappali thinks they’re the same thing.

There are loads of things that are better dielectrics than air, in fact air isn’t all that good but it is cheap and at the voltages and extremely high rates of change of potentials then I expect that rather a lot of dielectric material wold be required - so cost might be an important consideration

I think the problem here is that you’re trying to describe advanced alien technologies using primitive “stone-age” human technologies … and this leaves much to be desired …

There’s mostly only two hydrogen ions, protons and electrons … MASERs emit electromagnetic radiation, and not protons or electrons, and early MASERs only emitted microwave radiation, but today we have a wide range of frequencies including in the visible light parts of the spectrum, which we tend to call LASERs now … “shaped in a vortex” has me baffled, vortices are strictly fluid structures and have no bearing on radiation … plasma channels require energy to form and maintain, the plasma state is far too energenic to exist in our atmosphere for more than a split second …

There’s not that much energy in the ionosphere, no where even close to the energy in lightning … I understand that each molecule in the ionosphere is more energenic, but molecule densities are only about 8% of mean sea level, 12% where lightning originates … that means total energy is all but trivial compared to lightning …

The pyramids are made of rocks which are not known for their capacitance …

Finally, there’s not one shred of physical evidence that these ancient pyramids are anything except burial tombs … extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence and I’m not seeing any here …

Interesting you should bring up earlier civilizations, the pyramids themselves are Egyptian … however there is some evidence that the Sphinx is considerably older than the assumed Early Egyptian Kingdoms … but that’s still very controversial and generally considered a “fringe” theory …

That’s not a theory, that’s drivel. Theories have evidence and data to back them up.