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The lightning-powered skyscraper
Still in concept form, the futuristic Hydra Tower would convert the natural power of a storm into clean energy. Would that really work?
 
A rendering of the proposed Hydra skyscraper, conceived to harness power from lighting as an energy source.
A rendering of the proposed Hydra skyscraper, conceived to harness power from lighting as an energy source.
Screen shot, eVolo.us

The image: The Hydra Tower, a concept for a skyscraper that channels lightning strikes into clean energy, melds green technology with eye-catching architecture. (See rendering below.) Built out of the ultra-conductive material graphene, the building is conceived to channel the energy of a lightning bolt to capacitors at the building's base. Designed by a group of Serbian architects, the Hydra Tower recently won an honorable mention at the 2011 Evolo Skyscraper Competition. Its creators hope it could one day be put to use in tropical areas, where 70 percent of the earth's 16 million lightning storms occur each year.
The reaction:
Graphene is "one of the sexiest, almost-not-a-fantasy materials out there," says Evan Ackerman at DVICE, and would be perfect for conducting massive amounts of energy. Still, lightening harvesting has been tried and it "didn't pan out." So, sadly, it "looks like this this concept is gonna stay a concept, for now." Plus, wouldn't it be hard to "try and catch something that never strikes the same place twice?" asks Mark R. at Coolest Gadgets. Check out the unusual structure below:

 

 

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