UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
Is it possible to take electricity from lightning?
Question Date: 2014-11-30
Answer 1:

Answer #1 Well, that depends on what you mean by "taking electricity": the electricity that runs through your house to power all your electric stuff basically comes from tiny charged particles (called electrons) moving through electric wires. But that's also what lightning is: it's just lots of charged particles moving through the air between clouds and the ground. So lighting IS electricity!

But maybe you're asking whether it's possible to store the electrical energy from lighting in a battery and use it later. It turns out that this is really hard - that's because lighting releases a LOT of power, and that power can fry any equipment you use to try to store it. People have tried, and no one's managed a good way of doing this yet. But in theory, it should be possible - you just need electrical equipment that can handle the huge rush of power unleashed by a lightning strike.

Answer 2:

Lightning carries electrical energy, so it is definitely possible to make electricity from it. Each strike contains about the same amount of energy as 40 gallons of gasoline. Lightning striking power lines causes a surge of electricity. Surge protectors prevent against the electrical energy burst caused by lightning strikes. There has been some thought about harvesting the electricity in lightning strikes, but since they are so forceful and also random, it was ultimately decided to not be practical or useful.

Answer 3:

Maybe - there are problems with doing so that are difficult to overcome. Lightning is so powerful that it would destroy most circuits that could reach it.

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use