In the question: Could a city be built out of Balloons? it asks whether such a city could exist. I would like to know how much electricity (static electricity) could be gathered from the balloons without it forming lightning. Is it possible for the city to power itself that way?

I guess the best way to start would be to measure the amount of static electricity that is generated by a balloon's friction with air during a thunderstorm?

  • $\begingroup$ it might be better to gather static electricity of clouds (which is what cases lightning). Stick one end of the wire into one cloud, another end -- into another cloud, and you will have current between them. The larger your balloon city is, the more difference in electric potential between clouds that it can reach. $\endgroup$
    – Bald Bear
    Jun 21, 2019 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ How is this not a duplicate and/or conflation of your own questions, How much static electricity can balloons generate and Could a city be built out of balloons? $\endgroup$ Jun 22, 2019 at 3:15
  • $\begingroup$ @JBH I'm not sure $\endgroup$
    – Muze
    Jun 22, 2019 at 3:17
  • $\begingroup$ It looks like you'r rehashing old ideas. Your previous question about serial plant power generation is fundamentally a duplicate of serial potatoes from a year ago. $\endgroup$ Jun 22, 2019 at 3:21
  • $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of How much static electricity can balloons generate? $\endgroup$ Jun 22, 2019 at 3:49

1 Answer 1


This is a very interesting idea! Bald Bear already mentioned the gist of the idea I'll give here, but maybe I can flesh out the details a little more. There is a significant charge differential between the clouds and the ground. Essentially, the air between becomes a sort of capacitor separating the charges, and when the charge becomes high enough to arc, we get lightning and a lot of that energy is released.

I'm not sure you would want to rely on something as passive as balloons, but you could have a long conductor which provides a pathway to bridge the gap between the charges. You could trail one side of this capacitor on the ground or anywhere with a relatively lower charge. The other end would be a sort of probe - you could have this side carried by another balloon and guided to the nearest cloud. Hopefully the charge would increase slowly enough that you won't burn out your conductor, but you should have a useable source of energy if it can be done correctly. You can store the energy in your own capacitors until it's either used or stored in a more long-term way like with batteries.


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