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Author Topic: How Would You Use 1 Billion Volts Of Electricity In A Weapon?  (Read 9641 times)

Offline Voxx

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Name depicts it all, but if you were to use that much power, what would you do with it?


 

Offline namaan

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You could probably build a stupendously destructive rail-gun with that. But let's keep this non-lethal. I'm imagining a future where processing power gets as throw-away cheap as memory is now, and after electrical power would likely follow suit (assuming fusion reactors come to fruition). If we have such cheap power, non-lethal weapons with massive battery stores might take the form of magnetic repulsive weapons. You would of course have to figure out how to put a repulsive force on the target without any recoil on the user.

Better still, we may hope for higher civility for the near future :)
 

Offline CliffordK

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Keep in mind that you have both amps and volts.

A billion volts...  and a billionth of an amp.....

You could make one wicked electric fence... 

It might knock a person flat...   They might only have to come close to it.   But, they would be able to walk away from it.

Actually, you would probably set it up as an electronic discharge weapon with some kind of a trigger event...  Walk down a hallway...  the bam, lightening everywhere.
 

Offline Soul Surfer

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It is already used as a weapon to destroy electronic equipment.  Brief intense pulses of electromagnetic energy (EMP) can damage electronics and protecting military equipment from this is often a military requirement.  A nuclear weapon than be designed and exploded to create a pulse like this over a large area. Special radio transmitters can also do this and be rather more selective and shorter range.
 

Offline Voxx

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I was thinking and I had a thought.  I don't know if it's possible in physics or maybe i'm completely wrong, but here it goes.

Every quantum interaction is caused by electromagnetic force attracting and reflecting right?

Is it possible to neutralize that force into a neutral force?  Would that just make the entire world around us fall apart?

I got this thought after watching "The Watchmen."

A clip is here --->
« Last Edit: 22/08/2012 14:14:11 by Voxx »
 

Offline Bored chemist

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A billion volts at any current to speak of is going to be a challenge.
I reckon you could just send someone the electricity bill and see if they have a heart attack.
 

Offline chris

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Brilliant answer BC! Particularly now the energy companies have announced a 10% price hike...
 

Offline Voxx

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A billion volts at any current to speak of is going to be a challenge.
I reckon you could just send someone the electricity bill and see if they have a heart attack.

Quote
Brilliant answer BC! Particularly now the energy companies have announced a 10% price hike...

Ha, thank you for the commentary.
 

Offline lightarrow

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning
<<An average bolt of negative lightning carries an electric current of about 30,000 to 100,000 amperes (30-100 kA) at a voltage of over a billion volts.
...
The average peak power output of a single lightning stroke is about one trillion watts one terawatt (1012 W), and the stroke lasts for about 30 to 90 microseconds.>>

1012 W * 90 microseconds = 9*107 J =

= 25 kWh ~= 5 (average price now in Italy).


 

Offline damocles

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Not sure how 1 billion volts might be used -- not really into weapons. What interests me is what sort of dielectric would allow such a potential to be accumulated. Are we talking a kilometre thick capacitor of glassy polystyrene? (surrounded, of course, by a kilometre thick shielding to prevent sparking "around the edge")?
 

Offline CliffordK

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What would happen if you connected a couple of transformers in series. 

It might take a few transformers if each one is wired at, say 100:1. 

The problem is that as one got over, say a million volts, it might tend to break down the insulation pretty quickly.  It would be quite wasteful if the transformers were toasted after each application.

It might be worthwhile to look up some of Nikola Tesla's research.

http://davidszondy.com/future/tesla/tesla.htm
 

Offline Voxx

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Interesting comments and Damocles throws in some words that honestly I don't know.

I know they must relate to Electric Power Conservation and I thank you for putting in a realistic method to it.

It would be deminishing if the transformers were to burn out and is a wonderful thought that I'll have to look into Clifford.

Thank you for the calculation break down Lightarrow

I'm still curious to the Magnetic Force Neutralization thought I head earlier.

I know it would most likely require a LOT of calculations and parameters, but it is still possible.  Yes?
« Last Edit: 25/08/2012 20:12:29 by Voxx »
 

Offline CliffordK

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Some of the high voltage transmission lines are at about 1,000 KV (a million volts), perhaps even 1,200 KV.  And, would pack quite a wallop if you touched two of the wires.
 

Offline damocles

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Ah, yes ... Tesla ... transmission lines... etc.

In my previous post I was thinking purely high voltage DC. With AC (transmission lines) and particularly high frequency AC (Tesla) there are other considerations. Even so, Tesla was working only with millions of volts, not billions, and the atmosphere around him was clearly starting to break down into a plasma. But of course if the AC frequency is high enough, any ionisation that you produce in one part of the cycle can be reversed a half cycle later, and breakdown with the consequent energy dissipation can be reduced.

I only know the real basics of AC (the only section of any subject that I failed in my undergraduate years -- Electricity in Physics 2). I think, though, that it would be correct to say that there is no way to "store" AC electricity, and also that it would take awhile to build up to 1 billion volt if it were possible (because of unavoidable inductance effects). Neither of these things sounds promising for development of a weapon system.

A lightning stroke rated at over a billion volt, Lightarrow? And that from a moderately reliable source. I vaguely recall working with a figure of the order of tens of thousands of volts per centimetre for atmospheric breakdown, so a billion volt order of magnitude for a ground to cloud lightning stroke seems about right. That was actually the sort of basis that I was using to get my rather facetious kilometre thick capacitor with kilometre thick shielding around it.
 

Offline CliffordK

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Apparently high voltage DC is also used in transmission lines in some cases.

What if you took 100 million car batteries (or billion 2.1V cells), and lined them all up in series. 

Each one would hardly experience more than the rated voltage.

But, the voltage from the first to the last battery would be 1 billion volts.
 

Offline William McCormick

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Lightning is a voltage that is not as high as most think. That was Benjamin Franklin's claim to fame. Benjamin Franklin submitted papers based on his experiments in his basement, and called them the sameness of static electricity, and lightning. He did experiments with a copper wire from the roof of his house on a hilltop, to a iron ball. He had a second iron ball, that was grounded to earth.

In the middle he had another iron ball, that he connected to an air condenser. Two pieces of copper sheet metal rolled into circles. One a slightly larger diameter then the other. He suspended those from the wooden rafters with silk threads, with a space between them. Making a sort of torus shape.

He would charge the condenser during a lightning storm, and he found that, the condenser could reach a voltage that would stop the lightning form jumping anywhere. If he removed the iron ball that was connected to the air capacitor, the lightning would jump a foot to the other ball. Liberating UV and very bright light, along with a thunderous crack.

In order to stop electricity, like a switch in your house does, you have to create, a ramping of voltage through air. Benjamin Franklin was able to stop, lightning with about 30,000 volts of static electricity. Meaning the lightning could be much higher in voltage, then 30,000 volts.  A light switch, an air capacitor, stops 120 volt or 240 volt current, from flowing to another terminal, with under a volt, at ten million ohms to ground, or grounded by ten million ohms.

Electricity from an ARC is different then regular electricity. You can watch the ARC leave a cloud and make strange meandering turns. That is not how electricity flows naturally. Naturally electricity is very straight and very, fast. You would not be able to trace its path. Like you can the path of a lighting bolt.

My point being that the voltage in lightning might be guesstimates of the actuality. It is hard to measure the voltage of lightning, because it can deliver so many amps.

                      Sincerely,

                            William McCormick 
 

Offline damocles

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From CliffordK:
Quote
What if you took 100 million car batteries (or billion 2.1V cells), and lined them all up in series. 

Each one would hardly experience more than the rated voltage.

But, the voltage from the first to the last battery would be 1 billion volts.

That is quite right, Clifford. But you would have to line them up end-to-end. And even then, when you connected in your 10 millionth battery you would complete a circuit, losing power via the air gap from terminal to ground of the first battery, passage through the earth, and ground to terminal of the 10 millionth battery. An actual arc is unlikely because the ground would have a significant resistance, but there would certainly be a steady draw of power from the system, accompanied by "buzzing" in the atmospheric parts of the circuit.
 

Offline Voxx

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So if at millions of volts the atmosphere breaks down into plasma, what happens at billions of volts?
Is lightning kinetic or potential energy?
When a lightning bolt is going to strike a spot the air becomes ionized (charged) correct?

If this many volts where to cascade into the earth would it super heat the moisture within the ground and cause an explosion, similar to an oak tree?
Would a billion volts have any effect on the ocean?

Would producing this much electricity within an open atmosphere cause any large butterfly effect?
Such as the splitting of oxygen into O3? Or is it not split, but fused?
« Last Edit: 26/08/2012 01:03:40 by Voxx »
 

Offline damocles

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lightning
<<An average bolt of negative lightning carries an electric current of about 30,000 to 100,000 amperes (30-100 kA) at a voltage of over a billion volts.
...
The average peak power output of a single lightning stroke is about one trillion watts one terawatt (1012 W), and the stroke lasts for about 30 to 90 microseconds.>>

1012 W * 90 microseconds = 9*107 J =

= 25 kWh ~= 5 (average price now in Italy).


There are a few problems tied up in this:

The first and most important is that this particular article is flagged, awaiting a rewrite, and serious attention from an expert -- meteorologist or atmospheric physicist. As a general point it is important to take good note of these flags on wikipedia articles; in recent years the general quality of wikipedia has improved from mediocre to fairly authoritative, and it has been quite a remarkable success story.

However, there is no indication in the discussion that any of the part that Lightarrow has quoted is under challenge.

The second is about a misapprehension that is easily reached. I think that it might be the same point that William was trying to make. It is very easy to overestimate the energy that is involved with a lightning stroke.

You cannot say 1 billion volt potential difference and 50 kA current means 50 TW power, or even 50 TW peak power (obtained by multiplying the two together, in the usual way). The 1 billion volt is what is required to cause breakdown of an air column between cloud and ground, and strike an arc; the potential difference will fall rapidly once this has been achieved and there is current flow along the arc, and the effective potential difference at peak current flow will be much lower. The wikipedia estimate of 1 TW is probably about right, although I did not see any external justification of it.

The last point is that if you want to do a "back of envelope" calculation, you do not assume that the peak power is operating throughout the longest estimate of duration. You take a mid range estimate  of duration -- 60 s in this case -- and you assume a triangular power dissipation profile rather than a square wave one, i.e.   _/\_

This would lead in this case to an estimate of 30 MJ energy, or 1.5 euro.

There are a lot of complications associated with transient electricity that invalidate calculations that we use for steady state DC or AC circuitry. I simply do not know if any of them intrude here.
 

Offline CliffordK

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From CliffordK:
Quote
What if you took 100 million car batteries (or billion 2.1V cells), and lined them all up in series. 

Each one would hardly experience more than the rated voltage.

But, the voltage from the first to the last battery would be 1 billion volts.

That is quite right, Clifford. But you would have to line them up end-to-end. And even then, when you connected in your 10 millionth battery you would complete a circuit, losing power via the air gap from terminal to ground of the first battery, passage through the earth, and ground to terminal of the 10 millionth battery. An actual arc is unlikely because the ground would have a significant resistance, but there would certainly be a steady draw of power from the system, accompanied by "buzzing" in the atmospheric parts of the circuit.
Good point.
I didn't think whether you would need to do any extra insulation around the batteries.

Keep in mind, if you aligned the batteries end to end.
At 3 batteries per yard,
You would get 10,000,000 / 3 = about 3 million yards.
Or about 1,700 miles.

I'm doubting you would get much arcing to the ground. 

You could probably orient the batteries sideways, and cut it in half to about 900 miles (but still effectively have about a 1700 mile circuit).  A serpentine pattern layout would shorten the lineal distance a bit more.  If you oriented them in a circle, you could bring the ends a little closer together.  How close before it would be a problem?

I suppose I am having troubles envisioning how a 1700 mile long circuit of batteries would behave.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Lightning is a voltage that is not as high as most think. That was Benjamin Franklin's claim to fame. Benjamin Franklin submitted papers based on his experiments in his basement, and called them the sameness of static electricity, and lightning. He did experiments with a copper wire from the roof of his house on a hilltop, to a iron ball. He had a second iron ball, that was grounded to earth.

In the middle he had another iron ball, that he connected to an air condenser. Two pieces of copper sheet metal rolled into circles. One a slightly larger diameter then the other. He suspended those from the wooden rafters with silk threads, with a space between them. Making a sort of torus shape.

He would charge the condenser during a lightning storm, and he found that, the condenser could reach a voltage that would stop the lightning form jumping anywhere. If he removed the iron ball that was connected to the air capacitor, the lightning would jump a foot to the other ball. Liberating UV and very bright light, along with a thunderous crack.

In order to stop electricity, like a switch in your house does, you have to create, a ramping of voltage through air. Benjamin Franklin was able to stop, lightning with about 30,000 volts of static electricity. Meaning the lightning could be much higher in voltage, then 30,000 volts.  A light switch, an air capacitor, stops 120 volt or 240 volt current, from flowing to another terminal, with under a volt, at ten million ohms to ground, or grounded by ten million ohms.

Electricity from an ARC is different then regular electricity. You can watch the ARC leave a cloud and make strange meandering turns. That is not how electricity flows naturally. Naturally electricity is very straight and very, fast. You would not be able to trace its path. Like you can the path of a lighting bolt.

My point being that the voltage in lightning might be guesstimates of the actuality. It is hard to measure the voltage of lightning, because it can deliver so many amps.

                      Sincerely,

                            William McCormick 

Pretty much entirely wrong.
 

Offline damocles

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What if you took 100 million car batteries (or billion 2.1V cells), and lined them all up in series. 


You would throw the London Metals Exchange into chaos! (That is about 800,000 tonne of lead, which is around 13% of total world annual lead usage)
 

Offline lightarrow

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There are a few problems tied up in this:
The first and most important is that this particular article is flagged, awaiting a rewrite, and serious attention from an expert -- meteorologist or atmospheric physicist. As a general point it is important to take good note of these flags on wikipedia articles; in recent years the general quality of wikipedia has improved from mediocre to fairly authoritative, and it has been quite a remarkable success story.

However, there is no indication in the discussion that any of the part that Lightarrow has quoted is under challenge.

The second is about a misapprehension that is easily reached. I think that it might be the same point that William was trying to make. It is very easy to overestimate the energy that is involved with a lightning stroke.

You cannot say 1 billion volt potential difference and 50 kA current means 50 TW power, or even 50 TW peak power (obtained by multiplying the two together, in the usual way). The 1 billion volt is what is required to cause breakdown of an air column between cloud and ground, and strike an arc; the potential difference will fall rapidly once this has been achieved and there is current flow along the arc, and the effective potential difference at peak current flow will be much lower. The wikipedia estimate of 1 TW is probably about right, although I did not see any external justification of it.

The last point is that if you want to do a "back of envelope" calculation, you do not assume that the peak power is operating throughout the longest estimate of duration. You take a mid range estimate  of duration -- 60 s in this case -- and you assume a triangular power dissipation profile rather than a square wave one, i.e.   _/\_

This would lead in this case to an estimate of 30 MJ energy, or 1.5 euro.

There are a lot of complications associated with transient electricity that invalidate calculations that we use for steady state DC or AC circuitry. I simply do not know if any of them intrude here.
I certainly didn't intend to make a reliable computation, even if I used precise numbers; I know parameters of a lightning are very approximated.

I only intended to focalize the attention on the fact that specify:
"How would you use 1 Billion Volts Of Electricity" is not enough, because "current" and "time" have to be specified as well, otherwise the energy can be so low to be pretty useless...
 

Offline syhprum

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Damocles

It is of course quite possible to store AC power using an inductor and capacitor in parrallel, you probaly have several devices nearby doing just that.
« Last Edit: 26/08/2012 17:03:13 by syhprum »
 

Offline William McCormick

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So if at millions of volts the atmosphere breaks down into plasma, what happens at billions of volts?
Is lightning kinetic or potential energy?
When a lightning bolt is going to strike a spot the air becomes ionized (charged) correct?

If this many volts where to cascade into the earth would it super heat the moisture within the ground and cause an explosion, similar to an oak tree?
Would a billion volts have any effect on the ocean?

Would producing this much electricity within an open atmosphere cause any large butterfly effect?
Such as the splitting of oxygen into O3? Or is it not split, but fused?

There was a special Intruder modified and built by Grumman, that had a microwave jamming system onboard. The microwave jammer on this particular prototype craft could boil ground water. And yes blow the ground upwards.

It could also boil water up against objects submerged in the ocean. Causing steam and gas to form around the object, and then when you turned it off, a sudden compression of the steam. Often crushing the object when it could not stop the fast high pressure wall of water moving at the object.




                      Sincerely,

                            William McCormick 

 

 

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