Harnessing Electrical Potential from a Simulated Lightning Strike with Varying Levels of Humidity and Material Type

The purpose of the research was to determine the effects of material covering type and humidity on the electric potential in the air harnessed from a lightning strike. Any possible findings from this research can benefit the green, renewable energy industry by allowing a new way to harness energy. One example is having devices on the houses around a structure with a lightning rod, allowing all buildings to obtain energy from a lightning strike via the rod itself and the electric potential in the air.

The research was completed by placing a copper plate coated with either no covering, plastic, or rubber in an airtight box containing a Tesla coil and grounding metal with humidity levels at 40-43, 60-63, or 80-83 percent humidity. The copper plate was then attached to the side of the box and a voltage probe. The Tesla coil was then turned on and off to simulate a lightning strike to record the electric potential harnessed from the air during the lightning strike. The research showed that when humidity was held high, 80-83 percent, and covering was held low, plastic, produced the highest electric potential harnessed. This result was backed up by nine two-factor design of experiments (DOE) run with the different humidity and material factors. While all the numbers remained small, there were no statistically significant factors. Humidity had the highest effect with a value of 0.0389 volts. This is supported because the greater humidity in the air, the smaller voltage needed to make a spark jump through humid air, a lightning strike.

Research Conducted By:

Parker Authier
Fraser High School

Ian Rasch
Fraser High School