As we noted in our previous blog, lightning can cause immense damage, and according to reports from Lloyds and the Insurance Information Institute, losses due to lightning damage are increasing (up 15% from 2009 to 2010). The National Lightning Safety Institute reported in 2009 that damage and losses from lightning exceed $5 billion.
There is no standard solution when it comes to lightning protection, as each installation is unique and needs to combine protection against the primary effects of lightning (structural damage from the strike itself) with protection against the secondary effects (damage to installations and electronics from the surge). For hundreds of years, the only protection afforded against lightning was the lightning rod, which grounds a lightning strike via a particular route, thereby limiting the damage from the hit; later came the development of surge arresters and suppressors, which are still in use.
However, most interestingly, a company was founded right here in Colorado in 1971 by Roy Carpenter Jr., former Chief Engineer for NASA, which applied the scientific study of the point discharge phenomenon while developing a revolutionary new system of lightning protection. Lightning Eliminators & Consultants, Inc. (LEC) has designed a charge transfer system which utilizes the point discharge phenomenon to actually PREVENT lightning strikes within the designated area of protection for structures and facilities who have installed the system. How does it do this? Grounded sharp points contained in the Dissipation Array® System exchange ions between the air and the ground, thereby reducing the electrical field (i.e., the difference between the negatively-charged storm cloud and the positively-charged earth which is the cause of lightning) within the protected area and interrupting the formation of upward streamers. This means that direct lightning strikes to that area are eliminated altogether. According to LEC, the success ratio of the charge transfer/point discharge system stands at over 99%, with more than 3000 systems installed in 83 countries worldwide. LEC’s systems, which in addition to the DAS® include grounding/earthing and surge protection devices, can be found protecting airports, television and radio towers, petroleum storage tanks, and more.
See www.lightningprotection.com for more information on LEC’s systems and services, particularly their white paper on collection versus prevention at http://www.lightningprotection.com/collection-versus-prevention/, and get in touch with Alliance Insurance Group if you have questions about lightning and fire protection afforded by available insurance policies.
(Image courtesy of LEC)