Infoscience

Thesis

Electromagnetic Environment Associated with Lightning Strikes to Tall Strike Objects

The study of the lightning interaction with tall strike objects has attracted considerable attention of lightning researchers lately. Many lightning measurements including current and associated electromagnetic fields were recently made all over the globe namely in Russia, South Africa, Germany, Brazil, Japan, and Austria. It is a novel area of studies, and the resolution of associated questions will have an impact upon many lightning-related applications such as lightning protection and the determination of lightning parameters from remote field measurements. The main objective of the thesis is to carry out further theoretical investigations and experimental measurements to understand and elucidate recently raised questions on the characteristics of lightning return-strokes to tall structures and their associated electromagnetic radiation. Chapter 2 presents a review on recent progress in the modeling of lightning strikes to tall towers and associated experimental data obtained during the last decade or so. Two types of return stroke models namely the Engineering Models, and the Electromagnetic or Antenna-Theory (AT) models, extended to take into account the presence of a tall strike object are discussed. The Chapter contains also a description of the computational methods for the evaluation of electromagnetic fields generated by a lightning strike to a tall structure, as well as an overview of available data on lightning current and associated electromagnetic fields. The chapter finally highlights some important questions raised by different research groups in the past few years which call for further investigations. These questions are as follows: No systematic theoretical analysis nor experimental data are available for electromagnetic fields in the immediate vicinity of a tall structure struck by lightning. The characterization of nearby electromagnetic fields is particularly important in the analysis of the interaction to nearby electrical and electronics systems. Why do lightning return stroke models not reproduce the far-field zero crossing associated with lightning to tall structures? How should these models be revised to be able to reproduce such an effect? How should the engineering models be revised in order to remove the associated current discontinuity at the return stroke wavefront? It is well-known that the measurements of electromagnetic fields from lightning are affected by the presence of nearby buildings and metallic structures. However, no systematic and quantitative analysis of such an effect is presently available in the literature. The work presented in this thesis addresses all of the above questions. The main original contributions of this thesis, consisting of both theoretical and experimental work, are presented in Chapters 3 through 6. Chapter 3 is devoted to a theoretical description of the signature of electric and magnetic fields at very close distance associated with lightning strikes to a tower. It is shown that the electric field generated by a lightning return stroke to a tall structure can change polarity at very close distance range. This change in the polarity seems to be a specific signature of the very close vertical electric field. A simple equation is derived which provides an estimate of the critical distance below which such an inversion of polarity might occur. It is also shown that the inversion of polarity depends on the value of the reflection coefficient at the base of the tower and disappears for reflection coefficients close to 1. On the other hand, other parameters such as the return stroke speed, the reflection coefficient at the top of the strike object, and the adopted return stroke model seem not to have an impact on the inversion of polarity. Simulation results also showed that the electric field peak at distances beyond the height of the tower or so exhibits the typical 1/r dependence. At closer distances, however, the E-field peak features a saturation, due to the so-called tower shadowing effect. This shadowing effect results in a substantial decrease of the nearby electric field. On the other hand, the magnetic field peak varies inversely proportional to the horizontal distance and does not depend significantly on the presence of an elevated strike object. Chapter 4 introduces an improved version of the engineering models for return-strokes to tall structures which accounts for (1) the presence of possible reflections at the return stroke wavefront, and, (2) a return stroke initiation above the structure due to an upward connecting leader. We also propose an elegant iterative solution that can be easily implemented into computer simulation programs to take into account in a straightforward way multiple reflections occurring at the discontinuities at the tower ends and at the return stroke wavefront. Simulation results for the magnetic fields are compared with experimental waveforms associated with lightning strikes to the CN Tower (553 m). It is shown that taking into account the reflections at the return-stroke wavefront results in better reproducing the fine structure of the magnetic field waveforms. Chapter 5 presents and discusses obtained measurements of electric (vertical and radial) and magnetic fields from leaders and return strokes associated with lightning strikes to the Gaisberg tower in Austria obtained in 2007 and 2008. The data include simultaneous records of vertical and radial electric fields, which were obtained for the first time at such close distances. It is found that the vertical and radial electric field waveforms appear as asymmetrical V-shaped pulses. For the vertical electric field, the initial, relatively slow, negative electric field change is due to the downward leader and the following fast positive field change is due to the upward return stroke phase of the lightning discharge. For the horizontal electric fields, however, the bottom of the V is not associated with the transition from the leader to the return stroke. The horizontal field change due to the return stroke is characterized by a short negative pulse of the order of one microsecond or so, starting with a fast negative excursion followed by a positive one. In addition, an analytical expression for the radial electric field, assuming a uniform charge distribution along the leader with constant speed is derived. It is also shown that the return-stroke vertical electric field changes appear to be significantly smaller than similar measurements obtained using triggered lightning. This finding confirms the shadowing effect of the tower predicted by the theoretical analysis of Chapter 3, which results in a significant decrease of the electric field at distances of about the height of the tower or less. Finally, the ability of two different models for the return stroke in reproducing measured vertical and horizontal electric fields is tested using the obtained measured data. The considered models are (1) the engineering MTLE (Modified Transmission Line with Exponential Decay) model, and (2) the electromagnetic model implemented using the Numerical Electromagnetics Code NEC-4. It is shown that both models predict electric field waveforms which are in reasonable agreement with measured waveforms. In general, the predicted fields by the electromagnetic model appear to be in better agreement with measured data, because of the direct use of the measured current waveform as an input and the more accurate representation of the tower. Chapter 6 reports on the effect of nearby buildings on electromagnetic fields from lightning. Indeed, sensors used for the measurement of lightning electric and magnetic fields are often placed close to or on top of buildings or other structures. Metallic beams and other conducting parts in those structures may cause enhancement or attenuation effects on the measured fields. Experimental waveforms radiated from distant natural lightning recorded during the summers of 2006 and 2007 are presented. Electric and magnetic field waveforms were measured simultaneously on the roof of a building and on the ground at different distances away from it. The results suggest that the measured electric field on the roof of the building could be enhanced by a factor of 1.7 to 1.9, whereas the electric fields on the ground experienced a significant reduction by a factor ranging from 5 to 20. Also, it is shown that for a sensor located on the ground close to a building, the magnetic field component perpendicular to the building can experience significant attenuation, presumably due to the effect of the induced currents in the building. The magnetic field on the roof of the building seems not to be significantly affected by the building. Simulations using the Numerical Electromagnetic Code (NEC-4) were also carried out in which the building was represented using a simple wire-grid model. The simulation results support in essence the findings of the experimental analysis, despite quantitative differences which are ascribed, at least in part, to the oversimplified model of the building.

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