Category Archives: Energy

Future kinetic hyper-weapons

I wrote up some new high-end weapons that are feasible for use mid-century or soon after. This is the summary slide, and the full article describing how they all work follows as a pdf.


Full article is here: Hyper-weapons


Stormrouter – making WMDs from hurricanes or thunderstorms

I just had another idea for a new weapon of mass destruction for a future sci-fi novel, or for real life if we need it. This could work in real life, it’s just a little limited if it only works in storms.

I wrote a long time ago about harvesting energy from hurricanes using my collector. Carbon Girl and her other half Carbon Man use the idea in Space Anchor.

The original idea is summarised here:

Well, every superhero has enemies, and they have to be suitably matched or it is no contest, so let’s pretend in this case that our super-villain is called Stormrouter. No connection to Storm from the Fantastic Four though.

You can extract a few gigawatts from a hurricane with an extractor for quite a while, and I suppose you could use that energy to kill people, but that’s no good is it? The enemy probably won’t allow you to use an extractor on their turf. So that idea is only a peacetime thing really. However, there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

Very often in a storm, there is lightning. Charge builds up due to the movement of the air, and when it reaches a critical point, a big spark happens, either between clouds or from the ground. Suppose we can make little particles that charge up by being thrown around in the wind, and suppose we can link them into chains at will, so that they can discharge via some unfortunate enemy. OK, so we can only use it when it is stormy, and yes the enemy could stay indoors then. But storms can last ages. Putting an enemy indoors for several hours, or even a few days, while you have your own people wandering around safely doing as they want would be quite an advantage. If they come outside, you zap them. Your own people don’t get zapped, just enemy people.

I damn near killed myself in a dare in my school physics lab once, or at least it felt like it. We were messing with a Wimshurst machine, great fun when the Physics teacher is late. A fraction of a turn charged up the rods to give you a hefty zap. At full charge they can throw a spark 2.5 inches (6cm). So my mates dared me to do several turns and then try. So I did. I wound it and wound it, and then put my finger towards the rod. I got nowhere near it before a hugely powerful spark hit me. I was a jibbering wreck for an hour afterwards. I guess if a kid did that today, they’d probably sue the school, but I had the old-fashioned view that if I was behaving like an idiot, then it was my fault. If you want to do that to yourself, you can buy them easily on ebay, but it hurts. The point is that the contra-rotating plates can build up thousands of volts and store the energy in the leyden jars until the voltage is high enough to make the spark, or in my case, to zap the schoolboy.

In a cloud, rising water droplets allegedly collide with falling ice particles and lead to charge separation. In our weapon system, we will use billions of tiny particles instead of nature’s water droplets and ice crystals. Our little particles have sails, and they can tack in different directions within the storm. They know which direction they are going because we have a local positioning system for them. As they pass, they collide with others coming the opposite way, and each builds up a positive or negative charge. Obviously we can make coatings on their sides to optimise that. The wind within the storm provides the energy. The particles hold the charge on their capacitor plates. When they have built up lots of charge, it can be released in any particular direction on demand along with charge from their colleagues, all aligned in a line to the enemy. They don’t have to touch, just get close enough for the sparks to work, and a huge spark from all the charge from lots of particles can be released into any particular enemy combatant, or piece of sensitive electrical equipment if you prefer. So we need some low altitude particles or drones with imaging equipment to identify combatants, and some sort of ID system to make sure they don’t attack our guys. There are rather a lot of particles so we can arrange to attack lots of them at once, limited only by the energy available in our storm.

This energy harvesting could also be used to power or combat drones too, which can carry other equipment such as lasers, tasers, plasma rifles or whatever. I describe my free-floating combat drone army in:

It would be hard to disable the small particles, so they would make for quite a resilient weapon, albeit one that can only be used in a storm. Together with combat drones that can self repair and are virtually indestructible, this would make a pretty powerful weapon system. Perfect for a super-villain in a sci-fi story, but feasible enough to be used in real life in a few decades from now.




Carbon foam balloon as military platform

In my sci-fi book, the Carballoon is a huge carbon balloon made mainly from graphene foam. (In a nutshell, graphene foam is made up of tiny graphene spheres with a vacuum inside to give an average density lower than helium.)

It has many civilian uses as described there, but is also useful militarily. 

Some of the smaller balloons that it can send out would have reconnaissance or espionage functions. Some would have weapon systems on board, and having variable buoyancy, could sneak into an area at high altitude unnoticed before descending and bringing death from above. They could occupy some of the roles occupied by today’s drones, so would likely be covered by similar legislation.

Subject to that legislation, weaponry could include guns, directed energy or particle beam weapons, and graphene dart swarms, as well as missiles and bombs. These weapons would potentially scale with balloon size so that the mothership Car-Balloon would be very powerful.

The main advantage balloons convey is range and duration. They could stay afloat permanently without consuming power. They could sit stealthily for long periods on standby before being woken up to come into action. In fact, all the time they are afloat, the solar cells on the upper sections could accumulate energy and store it in graphene super-capacitors, to be released as required.

Graphene foam would be a very low density solid, so it would not fall if punctured. The pieces would stay afloat even if it were broken up. Self-organisation and assembly functionality could be distributed throughout the foam to allow pieces to come back together, and thus enable continuous self-repair.

Carbon foam – lighter than helium, stronger than steel, perfect for padded bra armor

A Carbon wardrobe could hold a huge variety of garments and styles, just like yours. Not all wardrobes include padded bras, but for those that do:

Even using lots of connected layers, the carbon chain-mail protection layers of carbon armor would still be pretty thin and highly transparent. They would block and deflect damage from swords and knives, but another layer of hard but flexible carbon foam between layers of clothes would help to absorb energy from bullets too. Any areas where damage does occur can be swiftly repaired using a variety of self healing mechanisms.

For potential superheroes who feel they need a bit of extra padding up top, carbon foam feels comfortable, keeps the body cool, adds extra protection, and adds curves. It is lighter than helium, so it also gives a bit of extra lift.

The Carbon Trio’s Base (The Car-Base?)

Everyone needs a home, even the military and superheroes. I describe the basics of how the super-tall structure on which the Carbon Trio’s home is built here:

Future posts on that sister blog will outline some of the rooms, materials and devices in it. From a military point of view though, probably the most useful aspect is the ability to place it on top of a structure 30km tall, and theoretically even 600km tall using the latest strength figures for graphene. Some of what follows will just be place-markers for future posts.

From such high altitudes, surveillance capability would be very high. So would the ability to use it to launch gliding vehicles and to house directed energy weapons, and obviously make it easier to attack space-based targets or launch other weaponry and equipment into space. It would therefore be a valuable target for opposing forces and would need protection. Assuming that the military of at least one country have adopted the Carbon Trio as citizens or allies, it is reasonable to assume that the platform would therefore be permitted to house defense-related systems.

Lasers are an obvious choice for long-range attack on incoming missiles or planes. Graphene has already been noted for its excellent properties in making lasers, so graphene lasers would certainly be a top priority. Electron pipes would be useful too. Electron pipes are basically linear accelerators that could fire high energy particle beams. I invented them originally as a high-speed upgrade to optical fibre. The original invention dates back to 1991 and is available here: As a telecomms system, it offers high bandwidth and could certainly be used for high speed comms around the platform to link the high bandwidth devices together. As a weapon system, the Carbon Trio would need to increase the length of the pipes by looping them around their base, increase the voltage by a few zeros, and thus produce a high energy particle beam. The pipes could be nanotubes or graphene tubes, and the coils use graphene wire. A large number of them could be used in parallel to make an intense beam. With the power supply sufficient (I’ll discuss some power generation potential in a later post).

The Car-Base would also be able to use mirrors to deflect solar energy. For weapon use, this would mostly come from a space-based array of mirrors. The maximum power level would mainly be limited by international treaties. The sun certainly provides intense enough power to make useful redirection weapons feasible.

Graphene dart swarms could also be released from a high altitude platform. These would be very thin and sharp, so could accumulate very high velocity before homing in on their target. These can wipe out an entire force of soldiers, easily penetrating standard issue protective helmets or a vehicle roof. Again, a future post will give more detail.

The defence of the Car-Base would not depend solely on weapons. It would also have formidable defences. The structural materials would be extremely strong – carbon fibre would probably be the weakest of them and even that is a good starting point. Graphene, carbon chainmail, nanotubes, carbon foam, cubic carbon and diamond are all pure carbon with very high specs, although a few are still expensive to make, future technology will bring costs down a great deal.

The combination of these materials offers a wide range of excellent electrical properties too. Using variable electric and magnetic fields as well as the principles of self organisation, evolution and self assembly, elaborate self healing structures could be assembled and maintained. They could be ruptured in a powerful attack, but could quickly self repair. Some structural components might provide small areas of force fields that could provide some protection but allow ultra-high speed opening and closing of gateways.

And of course, the final line of defense would be a squad of combat drones, under Carbo’s command, naturally.