May 31, 2014
Excuse the sloppy wording of this question, but I think you’ll get the idea. Physics isn’t my field.
This question is inspired by the discussion of ion harvesting in my prior posts.
If you were to instantly remove all of the positive charges from the particles in a given cubic meter of the atmosphere, what happens next?
Do those de-charged particles go someplace and reacquire a charge? And does that happen at the speed of light?
How fast does the cubic meter you drained of energy “refill” to the level before you drained it?
Does the space drained of electrical charge act like a vaccuum to suck in more charged particles? And if so, does the recharging happen at the speed of light or slowly?
I ask because I see a lot of folks saying there is a limited energy potential in the atsmosphere so no matter how efficiently you harvest the ions you have no hope of generating meaningful amounts of energy.
It seems to my physics-challenged brain that the rate of replenishing is as important as the quantity in existence at any given moment. Or to put it another way, if the energy you take out of the atmosphere is backfilling fast enough, and you are sucking it out fast enough, don’t you have something like unlimited potential?
I assume the answer is no, but I’d like to hear it from an authority.
Who can give me the simple answer to these questions?
If I understand the answers so far, the speed with which a given space in the atmosphere can repopulate with electrons depends on the speed of the airflow and the physical composition of the air “dust.”
So my follow-up question is whether you can boost the efficiency of an ion antenna by putting it in a natural wind tunnel (or high in the atmosphere) and perhaps introducing some type of optimal “dust” in that air to carry charge.
And is there any way to move charged electrons through a vaccuum that contains the ion antenna and also introduce new electrons into the vaccuum without opening it and without using more energy to do it than you create?
Thoughts on Scaling
According to yoru comments, the factors influencing the amount of ions you can harvest are wind speed, altitude, weather in general, and surface area of the antenna.
So let’s say you “painted” a windmill with graphene and connected it to the same electronics handling the wind power. That saves you the expense of land, government approvals, elecronics, transmission, etc.
You could have about a thousand times more area on the windmill compared to the hobbyist’s antenna.
And since windmills are in windy places, and they have elevation, you get perhaps ten times more ions. Just a guess.
Now because the wind mill blades are turning perpendicular to the incoming wind, you have the speed of the wind on top of the speed of the propeller cutting sideways throug the wind.
It can’t be cheap to cover a windmill in graphene, but those costs will naturally come down.
I believe none of this gets you to good economics, but I just got you closer.