How to calculate lightning energy

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How to calculate lightning energy

© All Rights Reserved

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http://www.electrical-knowhow.com/2014/05/Rolling-Sphere-Method-for-Lightning-Protection-

Design.html

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series of jerks from the cloud towards the earth. When the leader has got

close to the earth within a few tens, to a few hundreds of metres, the

electrical insulating strength of the air near the ground is exceeded.

towards the head of the downward leader: the upward leader.

(see Fig.1) and can move in any direction towards the approaching

downward leader. It is for this reason that lightning can strike the side of tall

structures rather than at their highest point.

The distance of the last step of a downward leader is termed the striking

distance and is determined by the amplitude of the lightning current. This

striking distance can be represented by a sphere with a radius equal to the

striking distance (see Fig.2). The striking distance r is given by:

r = 10 I 0.65

The larger the amount of charge carried by the lightning leader, the larger

the resulting lightning current, the greater will be the distance at which this

happens.

The head of the downward leader approaches the objects on the ground,

unaffected by anything, until it reaches the final striking distance.

than a larger flash, as the smaller flash must approach closer to the air-

terminal before the upward leader is launched.

be spaced closer together. For smaller lightning flashes there is a risk that an

air terminal may not be close enough to intercept the down leader, thus a

closer structural point releases an upward leader which intercepts the flash

(i.e. the building is struck).

Radius

Minimum current level to be protected against,

Probability percentages that lightning may be greater than these levels,

The rolling sphere radius used in the rolling sphere design method.

Table#1

Also, The above Table#1 explains the relation between Lightning protection levels

and rolling sphere radius as in the following examples:

Example#1:

Suppose that a lightning protection system to provide LPL I such that 99% of all

lightning flashes are intercepted (all those of 3 kA or greater). There is only a 1%

probability that lightning may be smaller than the 3 kA minimum, and may not be

close enough to an air-terminal to be intercepted. It should be noted that flashes

of less than 3 kA are rare, and typically would not be expected to cause damage

to the structure. Protection greater than LPL I (99%) would require significantly

more material, is not covered by the standard and generally is not required for

commercial construction.

Result:

The lower lightning protection levels (LPL II, III & IV) each increase the air-

terminal spacing, reducing their ability to capture smaller lightning flashes, thus

reducing overall the percentage of lightning events they can protect against.

Example#2:

Suppose that a lightning protection system to provide LPL IV, designed using the

rolling sphere method, would use air-terminals placed using a rolling sphere radius

of 60 m.

These air-terminals would be positioned such that they would capture all lightning

flashes of 16 kA or greater, thus offering protection to at least 84% of the

lightning (the term at least is used to indicate that the percentage of lightning

captured might be greater, since smaller lightning flashes could be captured if

they were closer to the air-terminal).

Result:

To offer a greater lightning protection level (e.g. LPL I, II or III) a smaller rolling

sphere radius would be used. This would result in a reduced spacing between air-

terminals (more air-terminals), thus positioning the air-terminals to capture

smaller lightning flashes, and increasing the total percentage of lightning flashes

captured.

The rolling sphere methods can be used for the following applications:

2. Rolling sphere method and mesh/catenary conductors,

3. Rolling sphere method and Tall structures.

1.3.1 Rolling Sphere Method With Rod Air-Terminations

When rods are to be used as the air-termination for the protection of plane surfaces

(see Fig.3), the following formula can be used:

d = 2 (2rh h2)

Where:

r = radius of the rolling sphere (m)

h = height of the rods (m)

The following Table#2 shows some examples of rolling sphere protection distance

(distance between Air terminals) according to the Air terminals height and the

Rolling Sphere Radius according to lightning protection level LPL.

Table#2

When rods are to be used as the air-termination for protection of roof top

items/structures (see Fig.4) and The arrangement of the air-termination rods, over

which no cable is normally spanned, means that the sphere does not roll on rails

but sits deeper instead, thus increasing the penetration depth () of the sphere. In

this case the following formula of sphere penetration distance can be used:

p = r (r2 d2/4)

Where:

p = penetration distance (m)( part of the sphere below the horizontal lines between

top of air terminals)

r = radius of the rolling sphere (m)

d = Distance between two air-termination rods or two parallel air-termination

conductors (m)

Fig.4: Penetration distance of rolling sphere

The following Table#3 shows Rolling sphere penetration distance according to the

distance between Air rods and the Rolling Sphere Radius according to lightning

protection level LPL.

Table#3

Note:

The height of the air-termination rods h should always be greater than the value of

the penetration depth p determined to ensure that the rolling sphere does not

touch the structure to be protected.

1.3.2 Rolling Sphere Method And Mesh/Catenary Conductors

provided by mesh conductors or network of catenary wires, the mesh must

be mounted at some distance above the roof (see Fig.5), to ensure the

rolling sphere does not touch its surface in a similar way to the catenary

conductors.

Also, As with a free standing mast, catenary conductors can be used to keep

the rolling sphere away from the structure to be protected (see Fig.6). One

or more catenary conductors may be utilised to ensure that the sphere does

not come into contact with any part of the structures roof.

Fig.6: Rolling Sphere Method And Catenary Conductors

suspended between two free standing masts may be employed. This

arrangement is suitable for small sensitive structures such as explosive

stores.

items of roof mounted equipment from a direct strike (see Fig.7).

Fig.7: catenary conductors used to protect larger

items of roof mounted equipment

The two formulas in the case of rod air-terminations can be used also in case

of using mesh/catenary conductors. The distance/height of the

mesh/catenary replaces the rod distance/height. As in fig.4 Note that the

distance for penetration or protection distance is the diagonal of the grid

(distance between points A & B).

Research shows that it is the upper 20% of the Tall structure that is most

vulnerable to side strikes and potential damage (see Fig.8).

the sides of the upper 20% of height. The same placement rules used for

roofs should apply to the sides of the building. While the mesh method is

preferable, particularly if using natural components, protection is

permitted using horizontal rods and rolling sphere method. However,

horizontal rods on most structures are impractical due to window washing

access equipment, etc.

Note that for structures less than 60 m high the risk of flashes to the sides

of the building is low, and therefore protection is not required for the

vertical sides directly below protected areas.

For structures taller than 120 m, the standard recommends that all parts

above 120 m be protected. It is expected that due to the height and

nature of such a structure, it would require a design to LPL I or II (99% or

97% protection level). For tall buildings, the actual risk of flashes to the

side are estimated by the industry to be less than 2%, and typically these

would be the smaller lightning flashes, e.g., from branches of the

downward leader. Therefore, this recommendation would only be

appropriate for high risk locations or structures.

conductive parts should occur at a height of 20 m and every further 20 m

of height. Live circuits should be bonded via SPDs.

Lightning Protection Design?

(see Fig.9) Depending on the location of the building under design, it is also

necessary to include the surrounding structures and objects with the same scale of

the building, since these could act as natural protective measures for the building

under design.

Fig.9: Scaled Building and Scaled Rolling Sphere of LPL I

Step#2: calculate The radius of the sphere which must be equal to the striking

distance associated with the minimum current level for the chosen lightning

protection level.

Step#3: Scale the radius r of the rolling sphere calculated from Step#2 with the

same scale of the building (see Fig.9). (For example, if the building with scale

1:100, from Table#1 for a lightning protection levels I, the rolling sphere radius

will be 20 cm and for LPL II will be 30 cm and for LPL III will be 45 cm).

Step#4: Make a circular path around the building under design with distance apart

equal to the scaled rolling sphere radius (see Fig.10). This circular path will

terminate on the corner of the building.

Fig.10: Circular path around the building

Step#5: Roll an imaginary sphere over the surface of the structure in all directions

(see Fig.11).

Fig.11: imaginary sphere rolled over the surface

of the structure in all directions

Note: the rolling process of the imaginary sphere is controlled by the distance

between Air terminals as given in part#3 in this Article i.e. each roll is far from the

previous one by the allowable distance between air terminals calculated from

part#3.

Step#6: Where the sphere touches the building, A lightning protection would be

needed by placing Air Terminal. Using the same logic, the areas where the sphere

does not touch the Building (see shaded area in Fig.11) would be deemed to be

protected and would not require protection.

Note: Generally a lightning protection system is designed such that the rolling

sphere only touches the lightning protection system and not the structure i.e. The

air termination system is placed such that the sphere only touches the air-

terminations, and not the structure.

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