Volcanic Lightning and how it works
Posted by keelynet on May 5, 2010
All told, there have been more than 150 different eruptions over the past couple of centuries where volcanic lightning has been recorded. In fact, I’ve managed to dig up some photographs of volcanic lightning from before I was born! Here’s Mount Vesuvius — and the accompanying volcanic lightning — from 1944!
Okay, so now you’re convinced that lightning happens in volcanic ash all the time. Yes, it makes for a spectacular picture, but how do you get this in the first place?
Well, what is lightning? You create a big enough electric potential difference between two places, and you can get all of these excess charges to “jump down” to the lower potential.
In air, it takes a voltage of about 33,000 Volts (!) to get a spark to jump even one centimeter! Lightning
that goes from a high cloud down to the ground can have a voltage difference in excess of a billion Volts! You can do this because you can get a huge amount of charge separation.
For example, in a big lightning strike, you separate out about 1020 electrons! But ash and rocks — even molten rock — are electrically neutral, right? So how to we get a big voltage from neutral matter? Thankfully, the ash that comes out is hot enough so that not every particle is neutral: many are positively charged ions and many are negatively charged ions.
If you can make something push the positive ions differently than it pushes the negative ones, you can create a charge separation! If you get enough charges separated, you can make a large enough voltage to give you lightning!
– (This reminds me of Paul Clint back in 2001 who was claiming he got up to continuous 2 foot arcs from his specially doped electrets. He said long wire antennas or anything that would interface with large volumes of moving air could produce all the energy anyone could ever want, just as Perrigo did back in the 1920s. The guy told me the more dust, sand, snow, etc. in the air, the more electricity you could extract from it. – JWD) – Full Article Source
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