Are Lightning-Powered Cars Around the Corner?

Aug 26, 2010· 1 MIN READ
Salvatore Cardoni holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.
A bolt of "hygroelectric" power. (Photo: Alex Rouvin / Creative Commons)

Brazilian chemists claim they've discovered how electricity is formed and released in the atmosphere, reports TGDaily.

Based on this, say the chemists, a device could be built with the capacity to siphon electricity from the air and use it to power mechanical devices.

Yeah, they’re talking about corralling lightning and using it to power homes and cars.

"Our research could pave the way for turning electricity from the atmosphere into an alternative energy source for the future," said study leader Fernando Galembeck, Ph.D., in a statement.

The announcement was made at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS).

"We are calling this 'hygroelectricity,' meaning 'humidity electricity,'" said Galembeck.

Harnessing hygroelectric power would be predicated on climate.

Akin to how solar cells work in sunny climates, hygroelectrical panels will work best in locales with elevated humidity levels—such as the Southeastern United States and the humid tropics.

Tapping into the power of lightning has long been a dream of the scientific community, reports Science Daily:

The notion of harnessing the power of electricity formed naturally has tantalized scientists for centuries. They noticed that sparks of static electricity formed as steam escaped from boilers. Workers who touched the steam even got painful electrical shocks. Famed inventor Nikola Tesla, for example, was among those who dreamed of capturing and using electricity from the air. It's the electricity formed, for instance, when water vapor collects on microscopic particles of dust and other material in the air. But until now, scientists lacked adequate knowledge about the processes involved in formation and release of electricity from water in the atmosphere, Galembeck said.