University of Florida Lightning Protection Research Underway at Florida Test House
Researchers from the University of Florida have scheduled the installation of the lightning protection system for a "test house" at the International Center for Lightning Research and Testing (ICLRT) on Thursday, May 27, 2004. Located at Camp Blanding, Florida, the test house will be constructed and equipped with a real-world lightning protection system as part of a two-year study designed to measure and study lightning currents. Modeled after a typical Florida home, the test structure will help develop lightning protection standards that could potentially be incorporated in Florida building codes.
The research, titled "Triggered Lightning Testing of the Performance of Grounding Systems in Florida Sandy Soil," will be conducted by Dr. Vladimir Rakov, with assistance from Dr. Martin Uman and Keith Rampo, all of the University of Florida's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. The study intends to measure the currents occurring in the wiring and grounding of the structure, when rocket-triggered lightning strikes the structure's lightning protection system, which will be equipped with a UL, NFPA compliant lightning protection system for the first year of testing. The project comes with an estimated price tag of $40,000 per year; $20,000 has been donated by The Lightning Protection Institute (LPI), an industry association, and the Lightning Safety Alliance (LSA), the organization which originated the proposal has raised another $20,000 from a variety of sources.
East Coast Lightning Equipment of CT has donated the equipment for the lightning protection system and Maxwell Lightning Protection Co. of Orlando, Florida will donate the installation. Both East Coast and Maxwell are members of the LPI and the LSA.
Other studies on lightning protection from scientists, engineers and safety experts have helped increase support for the promotion of technically valid safety standards for lightning protection systems. Data from the ICLRT study will be published and a technical report will be prepared for the LSA at the end of the second year. The University of Florida's ICLRT is presently the only facility in the world where lightning is artificially initiated from natural thunderstorms on a regular basis for the purpose of studying its physics and effects.
In its mission to reduce the risk of fire hazards worldwide, the LSA also supports efforts of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the National Electric Code (NEC), both which are responsible for numerous safety codes and standards that provide fire, electrical and life safety to the public.