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Examining the Oldest Technology for Tackling Lightning Events

  • This is a deep study on the lightning risk and associated dangers along with the oldest tailored approach for tackling the lightning which is still in practice. Lightning is an electric discharge to the ground on accumulation of opposing charges of equal magnitude near the sky and the ground that can cause unrepairable damages.

    How is Lightning Event Dangerous?

    Facilities and equipment immune to direct and indirect strikes must be shielded properly utilizing proper protection techniques as otherwise it can be a deadly concern. High voltage discharging from above the sky is particularly dangerous as this flashover can hit any particle, person or a structure on the ground leading to serious injuries and fire hazards. Lightning impulse can be as large as 200kA at 10/350 micro-sec of waveform which is extremely high and potential enough to cause electrocution and building/ structural damages. In most cases, the thunderstorm generation and charge accumulation are of high extreme and more repetitive also can never be forecasted causing structural damage or potentially limiting the operating life of electrical systems and so hampering the functioning of vital services. 

    Lightning Protection System Technology to Avoid Weather Related Damages

    Lightning discharges and electrical faults are risky for every type of equipment leading to downtime and damages. If we consider the case of equipment placed outside at hostile environmental conditions, then the need to be equipped with proper means of protection is of utmost importance to avoid lightning, power surges, spikes, etc. The solar plant, transmission lines, telecom towers, smart structures, public addressing structures, etc are most susceptible to direct lightning discharges and so a lightning arrester and down conductor network is highly recommended for every construction.

    Direct hits of a thunderstorm need to be blocked at the first stage using a pointed/ sharp air terminal network mounted on the topmost point of the structure to be protected. Now, the traditional protection methodology was proven many years ago and is still in practice. Lightning Protection System shall be designed as per IS/IEC 62305 and NBC 2016. Lightning Protection System consists of a single spike air terminal made up of Copper, Copper Coated Aluminium, aluminium or copper coated steel material as per the design requirements.

    The discharges then find its way to the ground via a down conductor providing multiple parallel paths which is again made of good conductors such as Copper, Aluminium, Copper Coated Steel or Copper Coated Aluminium for swift dissipation of lightning charge. While designing we consider every aspect of environmental effects and then the material and dimension for each element is chosen wisely. Maintenance free earthing system which is the last level of any lightning protection system should also be proper and as per recommended standards for full proof protection.

    This pioneering technology providing a larger range of protection is not very expensive yet very reliable and highly recommended as per IS/IEC 62305 standard.

    Below are Some of the Major Design Recommendations:

    1. The air terminal/lightning arrestor must be positioned on every corner, edges and highest point of the structure to be protected.
    2. Every structure shall be analyzed by doing proper lightning risk assessment calculation to select the level of protection for accurate designing.
    3. The material and dimension for each of the elements should be in compliance with IS/IEC 62305 & IEC 62561.
    4. The designing shall be as per IS/IEC 62305 based on following three methods
      1. Protection Angle Method
      2. Mesh method
      3. Rolling Sphere Method.

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