This Former Marine Is Harnessing Lightning To Make Electricity

05.29.17 10 months ago 6 Comments

Uproxx knows that science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines are driving the future of this planet forward. Every day, we see new ideas, fresh innovations, and bold trailblazers in these fields. Follow us this month as we highlight how STEM is shaping the culture of NOW.

Check out an exclusive Uproxx video about Ryan Davis along with stories about other STEM innovators here.

Born in the lightning-dense Southeast, Ryan Davis grew up fascinated by electrical storms. As a child, he’d watch the Weather Channel the way some children watch cartoons. He was obsessed with trying to understand what was happening in the sky. “I was able to observe electrical discharge at a very young age,” he says, “it’s something that stuck with me.”

Davis was the kind of kid who was always looking for answers and yearned to explore—constantly on the search for a challenge. It’s why he joined the United States Marine Corps at 18, because he heard that the Marines was the most challenging branch of the military.

“I knew I would be doing something good for my community by learning how to improve myself,” he says of his choice. “I’d learn how to become more disciplined, more focused, and more of a contributing member to society.”


Joining the Marines was life-changing for Davis. The young man was stationed all over the world, and he not only learned about a diverse range of cultures, but he was able to explore different weather patterns. To this day, he’s deeply grateful for the vast amount of knowledge he accrued in his time aborad, along with the values that he says shaped his character.

“The things that I learned, the core values, honor, courage and commitment,” he says, “those are the three things that I’ve tried to focus on even after the Marines. How can I be more courageous? How can I be more committed to being a person that was going to lookout for my fellow man?”

These values are what drove Davis to study renewable energy sources after his service. He believed he could be part of the solution to our global energy problem. “I just wanted to continue to uphold the highest honor and tradition of the Corp and focus my efforts toward something that could benefit humanity and fully embody the core values,” he says.

Putting his childhood obsession with lightning to good use, Davis created First Light Consulting Incorporated—a company focused on astro-geo energy, hoping to harness the power of lightning and convert it into a renewable energy source. “The average strike that takes place these days can power 56 homes for a single day,” Davis explains. “And yet, I’ve been told that the power of lightning was not significant at all.”

Through his research however, Davis has found conventional ways of measuring a storm’s power to be insufficient. “Once we do an evaluation of the total amount of atmospheric energy for the true cloud potential,” he says, “you’re able to quantify how much energy actually is up there. It is significant.”

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