Thanks to Zig for this lead. Sometimes I think there is a fine line between sanity and insanity. I am not sure of the economics or practicality of this patent, but I guess it was a matter of time before someone thought it worth while covering.
In the patent it explains that a lightning energy storage system that includes a lightning rod, a wire, a lightning energy harvester, and a ground rod. The lightning rod is configured to attract lightning and transfer electrical energy. The lightning energy harvester incorporates at least one magnetic capacitor and a switch. The ground rod is connected to the wire. A control signal controls the switch to direct the electrical energy to ground through the ground rod or to direct the electrical energy to charge the magnetic capacitor, in response to a charging state of the magnetic capacitor.
Now this might sound ery impractical or insane except when you put it into the context that the patent holder is not dumping the charge into a conventional capacitor but a magentic capacitor.
Northern Lights Seemiconductor company has several patents for magnetic capacitor storage systems. The claimed advantage of magnetic capacitance is it has many times the storage capicity over a convetianal cap given the same volume. It is based on Giant-Magneto-Capacitance (GMC) phenomenon, where a magnetic field over a capacitor let it sustain an enormous electric field. Mcap has the highest energy and power density among batteries and ultracapacitors (>10X Li-ion battery). With no chemical reaction involved, Mcap is claimed safe and highly efficient. As technology demonstration, Mcap has been used to drive mini-loads (e.g. LED, motorized toy car) and is currently in early prototyping for commercial electronics applications. It is further claimed the right power management and circuit protection, a credit card size Mcap is expected to power a laptop, and a SIM chip size Mcap a cell phone, for hours. Mcap is perfect for mobile computing/communications devices, EV/PHEV energy storage and peak power delivery. It discharges like a capacitor for peak power delivery, and relies on power management chips (DC-DC converters) to supply steady power. While occupying and weighing but a fraction of Li-ion battery, Mcap are cliamed to cost far less.
i was able to view some data and documents under NDA regarding this technology a couple of years ago. At that stage they could demonstrate on a very small scale the technology, but were seeking funds to be able to do an upscale demonstration. I am not sure what has developed since.
So as far as having lightenning as a practicle energy harvesting system? I will however do some more research om magnetic caps. Although it may be difficult to upscale, the potential advantages outweigh any conventional battery or capacitor technology and would make electric storage both for renewable energy storage and trasportation iable.