Tuesday, September 13, 2011


“BT have not ordered to withdraw ESE standards
ESE national standards are in force and this is in line with the CEN-CENELEC Internal Regulations”
Since 2009, the “lightning experts” are communicating by any available means that the ESE standards are in conflict with the IEC 62 305 serie. As a consequence, they should be removed, the ESE air terminals would then become illegal and Conventional LPS would be the unique acceptable system.
The CENELEC already answered extremely clearly in April 2010 to this question but the debate was still on, propagated by the so-called experts.
The CENELEC Director General had recently the opportunity to clarify the position of the European standard body while answering a question from Mr Farhad Rachidi (ICLP President). This answer (available hereunder) ends the biased debate definitely.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


(Posting in response to Mr. Hartono’s recent articles regarding Early Streamer Emission lightning protection systems)

By Trang Bui (1) and Sylvain Fauveaux (2)
1 International Lightning Protection Association (ILPA)
2 Indelec S.A. (France), Lightning Protection

Any professional or anyone who have some knowledge about lightning protection would know that there are two types of lightning protection systems (LPS). One is the long existent conventional LPS including Franklin rod and Meshed cage as far back as 200 years ago. The other is more recently developed LPS including Early Streamer Emission (ESE).

There are still many debates and disputes going on between the two technologies. So far, none of the two is scientifically proved better than the other. It is also not the intention of this paper to do that job which should be left to researchers and professionals through their works in the lab and real life experiments.

However, we would like to discuss about conventional supporters’ interesting take on the matter, for instance, Mr. Hartono, a conventional LPS consultant in Malaysia. For years, he and his friends have been going around Malaysia and taking pictures of ESE-protected buildings being struck by lightning. He then would publish these pictures in international conferences or local newspapers to underline that these systems are not efficient.

Meanwhile, he purposely overlooks many bypasses of buildings using conventional LPS.

It is a known fact that there is no 100% of lightning protection until now, unless you fully cover a building with copper to create a closed shield (which is not practical and environmental-friendly in real life.). There is always a small risk of being struck by lighting despite of a LPS being used.

Here are some failure examples of conventional systems, or in Mr. Hartono’s words, the so-called more efficient LPS.

Figure 1: The Cathedral of Matagalpa, Nicaragua before and after a bypass on 29th August 2010

Figure 2: Bungalow in Damansara Idaman, Malaysia
 29th November 2006

 Figure 3: Hilton Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia- – 30th May 2006

Conclusion: It is not our purpose to degrade conventional systems in any way when we publish these pictures. Putting others down does not raise you up, therefore, we will not pick up Mr Hartono’s method and get in a childish debate. We only want to point out that it is extremely easy to expose lightning incidents without any details allowing the readers to have a complete picture of the site conditions. A LPS is a complete package which should not only include the specifications of the air terminal, but also its location, the system design, the dimensions and number of down conductors, the resistance of the earthing system and additional measures. Therefore, the investigation of a LPS failure requires a lot more in-depth than the premature accusation based on pictures of so-called mal-functioned air-terminals.

While some “impartial” consultants out there put all of their efforts in defaming the most recent products; modern manufacturers and their teams of engineers are spending times to improve their technology to minimize the risk of lightning to public safety and protect human’s properties. Let the truth speak for itself and the statistic prove ESE system’s efficiency.
October 2010.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Answer to Mr. Hartono's email to the Malaysian government Authorities 201009

Letter to all the destinaries of Mr Hartono’s emails.

Dear Sirs,
We refer to the message called “Techno-terrorism”currently more dangerous and damaging than JI or Al-Qaeda” and “Malaysian evidence “indisputable”, government must act to protect the nation “ dated June 23, 2010 , and August 22, 2010 sent by email to the Malaysian government Authorities by Mr Hartono Zainal Abidin .
Mr Hartono has been involved for many years in an unsuccessful lobbying action to deprive Malaysia of an existing worldwide technology: ESE lightning protection. But this time he has apparently lost his “self-control” acting beyond the right of expression. His messages are obviously extremists and defamatory for European industrial companies, and European national standardization organizations.
For your information, it is attached a Memorandum which has been prepared by expert members of ILPA in order to provide technical information and precise arguments to the Malaysian Government further the slanderous and misleading information included in Mr Hartono messages Furthermore, this document gives an overview of the industry active in the ESE lightning conductors and provides major references that demonstrate the large deployment of this technique worldwide and the high degree of security of the installations.
This Memorandum is focused on the issues raised by Mr Hartono such as “it would exist some ambiguity about the safety of E.S.E lightning conductors which would leave some doubt about the effectiveness and the safety of these products.”
It will be demonstrated that the level of safety provided by ESE standards in force in Europe is the same as for the EN 62 305 techniques , supported also by the large worldwide field experience especially in areas with high density of lightning.

Mr Hartono’s messages and articles are misleading and seems inspired by a deliberate will to harm. They are seriously detrimental to the ILPA, its members as well as many companies and could lead to legal follow up and actions.
Yours sincerely
Arnaud Lefort

Please see the full letter with attachment with this link: Full answer

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Lightning damages and protection practices

Around the world, lightning strikes the ground about 100 times each second, or 8 million times a day and the damages caused by lightning strikes are very severe. However, lightning safety has been little studied and less practiced. A disciplined and systematic approach to lightning safety may result in better management of the hazard and reduced costs
Human losses and injuries
Lightning is known as one of the leading weather-related cause of deaths and injuries. Nearly 2 000 people around the globe are killed each year, thousands more survive with sequels. Eighty five percent of lightning victims are children and young men ages 10-35 engaged in recreation or work. Twenty percent of strike victims die and 70% of survivors suffer serious long-term after effects
There is also a long list of recorded disasters caused by lightning strikes. Looking specifically at storage and processing activities, lightning accounts for 61% of the accidents initiated by natural events; in North America, 16 out of 20 accidents involving petroleum products storage tanks were due to lightning strikes.
In DRONKA – EGYPT in 1994, lightning struck the complex of eight fuel tanks.  Three of the storage tanks, each holding about 5,000 tons of aircraft or diesel fuel for the army, exploded and spilt burning fuel into the village. More than 410 people were killed and more than 200 houses were destroyed and at least 20,000 terrified people fled and headed towards the provincial capital, Assiut city, five miles away.
 In UNITED STATES – SONORA in 2000, lightning struck an electric transformer in a chemical plant. The resident population was evacuated within a radius of 800 m (200 persons), and housed in centers. Six people sustained injuries including four fire-fighters.
 Lightning strike in PERU in 2004 caused an explosion in a civil explosive warehouse, killed six people and injury another 6.
 In SPAIN – HUESCA in 2005, an explosion followed by a fire occurred at around 6.00 pm in a grain storage of a flour factory. 19 people sustained injuries of which 7 were serious. 11 people were hospitalized. The facility where about 20 employees were working was seriously damaged. The list goes on…

Impact on business
Lightning-caused problems are one of the most common troubles faced by American business today. A recent Carnegie-Mellon study showed that 33% of U.S. businesses are affected by lightning — and that more businesses are affected by lightning storms than by floods, fires, explosions, hurricanes, earthquakes, and violence.
According to a German Insurance company survey, lightning accounts for 27.4% of damages to electronic equipment. Furthermore, AXA France Insurance Company made studies and came out with the conclusion that after a fire, one out of every two businesses ends up having to cease trading within five years, with direct damages (real estate, production facilities, IT equipment, etc.) or indirect damages (temporary layoffs, loss of customers, loss of earnings, etc.) preventing them from continuing with their business activity on sound foundations
Lightning is responsible for more than $5 billion in total insurance industry losses annually in the U.S, according to Hartford Insurance Co. Homeowner paid claims only (which do not include policy deductible amounts) are as follows for 2008: The number of paid insurance claims was 246,200. Insured losses were $1.065 billion. The average cost per claim was $4,324.(1)
Lightning protection practices
Scientists have warned that global warming is likely to intensify extreme weather patterns. We could see ­­­double or triple, even more, in the number of lightning strikes by mid-century­­­­ (2).  Severe storms in recent years may be a prelude to this. For example, Cambodia saw a big increase in the number of deaths due to lightning strike from 47 in 2007 to 93 and 133, in 2008 and 2009 respectively. A strong case should be made for reducing lightning's human costs through the adoption of proactive defensive guidelines.
Moreover, the rapid growth of silicon-based, microprocessor-controlled devices across our society will expose business to more lightning threats and accelerate costs and losses so long as adequate lightning protection measures are not adopted as a standard practice. The direct and indirect effects of lightning to electrical and electronic equipment are significant, but there is little recognition of the problem. The insurance industry provides an interesting example. It widely promotes policy cost discounts for use of deadbolt locks, fire extinguishers, security alarms, smoke detectors, etc. In contrast, there are no equivalent incentives for use of lightning protection systems by the insured to protect sensitive electronic equipment. Insurance companies could act as agents of change here, with a benefit to them of considerable savings in paid-out claims.

(1) Source: Insurance Information Institute, NY, press release, 6/22/09
(2) Dr. Martin Uman, Univ. of Florida Lightning Research Center, quoted in article in New York Times, Sept. 9, 2001

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Unsustainable trends in lightning protection industry

Pr. Jaouad ZEMMOURI University of Science and Technology –
Phlam Laboratory
Lille- France

Every single second, 50 to 100 lightning strike the Earth’s surface. This natural phenomenon has always caused fascination, not only because of its beauty but also because of its destructive power. Statistics of damage caused by lightning are rather impressive: around 2 000 people are killed each year, thousands more survive with sequels, and material damages are estimated in the order of $4-$5 billion in the US only. The widely extended belief that lightning strike is completely random is actually untrue: shape of the structures and objects and its conducting properties largely condition strike probability (for instance, the Empire State building is stroke between 20 and 25 times each year).

Protection against lightning is widely justified by these facts, and is nowadays systematically applied to populated areas and industrial sites. Several standards and technical whitepapers regulate and even impose the installation of lightning protection systems in all these sensible areas. As a consequence the industry developed around lightning protection deals with an increasing business: it is estimated that this market will amount up to $695.5 million in 2011(1).

Without any doubt, the main milestone in lightning protection is the use of a single rod as a lightning receptor, by Benjamin Franklin (around 1750). Ever since, the image of a single lightning rod topping tall buildings has remained in popular culture as the protection system. However, other system proposed by Maxwell (in 1876), the so-called Faraday cage or mesh cage, is also widely applied nowadays. The working principles of those systems (Single rod and Faraday cage) are almost antagonists.
lightning phenomenon, physics, protection
Figure 1: The Lightning mechanism. In charged clouds, certain not well known physical processes lead to a descending plasma (electrically charged) channel. As it approaches the ground, it causes electric field at the earth’s surface to rise dramatically, causing ionisation of air. This effect is more pronounced in sharp edges, and takes place in many different points and objects (picture on the left). Free ions follow electrical field and therefore progress towards the descending plasma channel, forming ascending channels. When one of these channels contacts the descending one, a strong electrical discharge takes place (picture on the right). All other ascending channels are dissipated.

The Single rod takes advantage of the mechanism of lightning itself. Although very fast for the human timescale, lightning is indeed a complex process (see Figure 1), in which a plasma channel descending from the cloud towards the ground causes the apparition of other plasma channels ascending from the ground (2). When one of these ascending channels (whose creation is favoured by sharp edges) enters in contact with the descending one, a strong electrical current is established, giving place to the characteristic light flash and shock wave (thunder) that we all identify as the lightning strike. Single rods are placed in high spots, seeking to ensure that the ascending plasma channel originated at the rod is the one that will establish contact with the descending one in first place. The electrical discharge is then guided to the ground through a metallic guide.
Mesh cages do not take account of the nature of lighting, but only of the simple fact that electromagnetic fields do not propagate inside cages formed by electrical conductors. A protection system based on this principle does not aim to attract lightning towards a specific point, but rather expects it to hit anywhere along a grid of metallic conductor, which will then guide the discharge towards the ground. Obviously, for this type of system to be effective, the grid of conducting wire must be dense enough to avoid lightning striking in unprotected areas between wires.
There is a remarkable unbalance between the amounts of attention that the research community has devoted to each of the types of lightning protection systems. Single rods have been subject of intense research during the last half century. Part of this activity has focused on the (still ongoing) assessment of the performance of evolved forms of the single rods, namely the ESE devices. Another significant part of this activity has been devoted to develop the so-called electro-geometrical model and its derived engineering methodology (the most relevant one being the “Rolling Sphere” method), which allows designing consistent protection structures. This contrasts with the background behind Faraday cages, whose installation still relies in the meshwork method, largely based on accumulated experience, rather than theoretical deduction (3).
At present, both types of protection systems coexist and are employed massively. So far there is no scientific evidence that one of these types of protection will be better than the other, although it is commonly agreed that poor installation design dramatically decreases the efficiency of the protection system4. Nevertheless, there is no discussion around the fact that scientific research is the only way that will allow developing more efficient lightning protection systems through a better understanding of the amazingly complex subject of physics of lightning.
The importance of the scientific debate has overshadowed some other issues which have nevertheless become crucial in the dawn of the 21st century. Last decade has seen the economical rise of countries like China or India, which enormous populations concentrating into large cities and developing large industrial sites. The acceleration of consumption has made obvious that it is impossible to conceive a highly developed society at a global scale without focusing into industrial production schemes that are sustainable. However, this is not the case of some of the models proposed by the lightning protection industry. Both types of protection systems, single rods and Faraday cages, are mainly composed of metal, particularly copper, in the form of large section wire. Although copper has been known and used since at least 10 000 years, 95% of the overall amount has been mined in the 20th century. Price of copper has multiplied by 5 in the period 1999- 2006 only.

In the case of single rods, two wires are used to guide the discharge from the rod itself towards the ground, so the amount of wire used is roughly equivalent to twice the height at which the rod is placed. In the case of Faraday cages, a much larger amount of copper wire is needed in order to build the grid which wraps around the whole structure to be protected. Figure 2 shows a comparison of the amount of copper needed to protect a medium-size basement following current standards. This example illustrates how a protection based in a Faraday cage type of system does not fall at all into a sustainable logic. It may be argued that such type of systems is only to be used in high risk sites, and not as a general use protection system. However, as it has been already discussed, there is no proof that the Faraday cages will perform better than a consistently constructed single rods structure, which will be much less consuming of natural resources.

All the facts listed concern a situation which is amazingly complex, and precisely because of this very vulnerable to abuse. The search for protection against a powerful and destructive natural phenomenon is legitimate. The fear against lightning is as old as humanity itself and therefore plenty of prejudices and myths, some of them senseless. Care should be taken that the irrational part of this fear does not interfere both with the scientific debate and the common sense of good resource management. The need of protection has allowed the development of some industry which cannot face the current needs of sustainability and management of natural resources. This situation strikingly contrasts with the general political and social trend, which is forcing industry and consumers to adopt responsible aptitudes through regulation and policy making (a recent example of this could be the interdiction of manufacturing and sales of incandescent bulbs for lighting in the EU, in 2009). As it is yet to be proved that these resource consuming systems offer better protection than other existing technologies, it is time to take these important socio-economical factors into account and proceed accordingly.
faraday cage, lightning rods, ese, early streamer emission
Figure 2 - The schematic representations above correspond to lightning protection systems of single rod type (left side) and mesh cage type (right side), designed to protect a basement measuring 40 meters long, 20 meters wide and 10 meters high. It is assumed that the building has a poor conducting structure, as wood. The systems have been designed following the specifications of standard 62 305-3, to achieve protection of level II. The red lines represent the copper wiring with section of 50 mm2. Taking into account the lengths of wire and the density of copper (8920 kg/m3) we can estimate the amount of copper used in the installations, which is approximately 22 kg in the Single rod type, and 217 kg in the Faraday cage
sustainable manufactoring
The impracticality of the Faraday approach becomes evident as soon as calculation is applied to a group of basements, like those which could be found in almost any neighbourhood or industrial area. The red region shown in the left picture contains a group of 52 buildings, each one with dimensions similar to the example calculated above. Protection against lightning of the basements will require 11.3 tons of copper, using mesh cage systems. The large green field appearing the top right of the picture cannot be protected. In contrast, the whole area could be protected using two single rod system, which will need of 1,1 kilos of copper. Single rod type allows improving protection over wide open spaces such as the green field of the picture. The region protected is still a minuscule fraction of a populated area, in this case Metropolitan London (pictured on the right).
1 See « World Lightning Protection Technologies (LPT) Markets, by Frost & Sullivan, June 28, 2005.
2 In purity, this is only one possible mechanism (the most commonly found in nature). The other situation, with first plasma channel moving
from the ground towards the cloud, can also be observed.
3 See « A Discussion of ‘Faraday cage’ lightning protection and application to real building structures » by M. Szczerbinski; J. Electrostatics, 48, 145-
154 (2000).
4 For an updated study, see « New guidelines regarding the positioning of prospective air terminations on structures using e-field modelling
techniques ». F. D’Alessandro, J. Electrostatics, 67, 501-506 (2009).

Monday, May 24, 2010

Subang airport closed after lightning strikes runway

Lightning on Tuesday created three holes in the middle of the runway, each one averaging 60cm in diameter and 15cm deep.
Subang airport closed after lightning strikes runway

PETALING JAYA - The Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah airport in Subang was partially closed for an hour after lightning damaged its runway during a thunderstorm.
Department of Civil Aviation director-general Datuk Azharud­din Abdul Rahman said lightning on Wednesday created three holes in the middle of the runway, each one averaging 60cm in diameter and 15cm deep.
“By 6.15pm, the holes had been patched up and the airport was fully operational again,” Azharud­din told The Star.
No aircraft was struck by lightning during the storm yesterday, he said.
A Meteorological Department spokesman said severe thunderstorms were normal during the inter-monsoon season.
“Rain will be accompanied by lightning and thunder. The storm also causes a strong downdraft, making it very windy,” he said.
It rained from 4pm to 6pm yesterday, pouring heavily for the first hour before easing in the second hour, he added.
Ipoh Timur MP Lim Kit Siang was among passengers stranded at the airport due to the lightning strike.
His flight to Penang was originally scheduled to depart at 5.30pm, but was postponed to 8.30pm.
The heavy downpour also damaged the broadcast room of the International Broadcast Centre at Putra Stadium here where players were training before the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup Finals this month.
A portion of the ceiling caved in in the 5.15pm incident.
Building and maintenance workers immediately rushed to the scene.
No one was injured as the room was empty when the incident happened.
The rain also caused massive traffic jams and flash floods in several areas of the city.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Singapore - Lightning strike caused major disruptions to SMRT

April 23 rail incident among "more major" disruptions: SMRT
By Neo Chai Chin | Posted: 04 May 201

SINGAPORE: The lightning strike on the Bukit Panjang light rail transit network nearly two weeks ago, was one of several that have disrupted rail services in the last decade. And it was one of the more major incidents, damaging the power equipment of one of the trains, according to operator SMRT.

But lightning strikes don't always spell bad news for commuters, according to a lightning protection expert.

This is because of the lightning protection devices in place, which could reduce potential damage by 90 per cent, said Professor Liew Ah Choy, an electrical and computer engineering don at the National University of Singapore.

This means that in 10 instances of a lightning strike, only one incident would cause service disruption.

The devices include lightning protection tape on the rails and surge arresters to limit potential damage to the rail network's electronic systems.

The tape safeguards against direct strikes on the rail. "When the lightning current gets injected into the lightning protection tape, there will be a large voltage rise and a lot of current flowing, and a very large magnetic field generated," explained Professor Liew.

The "very high" voltages induced by lightning vary from several kilovolts to 100 kilovolts, and can cause power failure.

But in some instances, the surge arresters are able to limit the voltage values so that no damage is caused, said Prof Liew.

While no lightning protection safeguard is fail-proof, Singapore has done a good job of minimising the frequency of disruption, he said.

Since the Bukit Panjang LRT system began operations in 1999, there have been three instance of delays caused by power surges, said Mr Tay Tien Seng, SMRT's light rail operations director.

In the April 23 incident, engineers managed to get one of the trains functioning again, while a rescue train was sent to push the second defective train to the nearest station.

About 100 passengers were on the two trains, but none was in danger at any time during the incident, said SMRT in a statement after the incident.

However, a 60-year-old Bukit Panjang resident, Mr Chen, who was affected by the disruption, said station staff could have done more to prevent would-be passengers from scanning their cards and heading up to the train platform.

Had there not been a thunderstorm, passengers could have got off the train and walked on the track to the nearest station, said Mr Tay.

They would have walked a safe middle passage flanked by the train tracks.

Meanwhile, last month's disruption also threw up another interesting statistic.

Three other lightning-induced train disruptions reported in the media since 2001 have also occurred in April - one of the months with the most thunder days alongside May and November/December, according to statistics from the National Environment Agency. - CNA/vm