Below are photos and details on our attempt
to create "Ball Lightning"
Five capacitors were connected in parallel. Each
capacitor had the following capacity: 800 uF, 5000
V, 160 lbs, 10,000 J energy.
In total, all five capacitors in parallel equaled: 4000 uF, 5000 V,
800 lbs, 50,000 J energy.
A high current / high voltage switch (not shown) was used to connect the
capacitors to the load. The high voltage switch consisted of
spring loaded arm with brass balls as the contacts.
The ball lightning is created at the electrodes which are in a bucket of water.
Ground Electrode. The ground electrode is
a copper shaped ring at the bottom of the bucket.
Positive Electrode. The positive electrode
has bends in such a way that it loops over the edge of the
bucket, down into the water and then
pokes out at the surface in the center of the bucket. Only a 1/4" diameter by 1/8" long
section of metal pokes out of the surface of the water. This
electrode is mostly insulated with silicone tape except
for the exposed tip at the surface of the water in the center.
The five capacitors were charged up to 3000 Volts (lower than
the 5000 V capacity) and the high voltage switch was triggered by pulling
on a piece of fishing line. The following images and
videos were captured.
The water is normal tap water. During the capacitive
discharge, a small mushroom cloud erupts from the surface of the
water. In the photos and in the video with the black
background, you can see the mushroom cloud dissolves into a big
green afterglow for a split second. Oxygen emission
lines account for the green color.