News JVTech Deflecting lightning with a laser, it exists: you will go to bed less stupid (video)
Published on 01/21/2023 at 15:15
To share :
An alternative to lightning rods already exists, and it involves the use of a powerful laser to deflect lightning. Just that.
A laser that deflects lightning
You like the little ones crisp anecdotes to stall during a conversation in which you want to shine? No problem, JV Tech is here to provide you with more varied technological innovations than the next. If you enjoy lasers in Star Wars, this one is probably more useful as it can tackle the heaviest of thunderstorms.
The paratonnerres are always an effective solution to protect an area considered to be at risk. A solid system but which has a small defect and not the least: the radius of action. When a lightning rod is placed, the mast intended to conduct electricity attracts that of lightning has a fairly limited protection surface. Indeed, the radius of action is equal to the height of said mast. So the limit is quite obvious.
When you want to protect a small building, this surface of action is sufficient, but it is far from being the case for larger infrastructures such as airports, nuclear power plants or even wind farms? These areas can be damaged and impossible to fully shield, as lightning can cause significant material and human damage.
But how to do it ? The solution to this problem can be found in Switzerland, with an alliance worthy of the Avengers: Aurélien Houard, researcher at the Laboratoire d’Optique Appliquée, the University of Geneva, the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, the Ariane group, and I pass. All these fine people are currently considering a laser lightning rod project.
How it works ? The technical terms are a bit beyond me, but it is a laser called “Lightning Rod” capable of creating channels of ionized air, which attracts lightning. Here are the words of Jean-Pierre Wolf, professor at the Department of Applied Physics at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Geneva:
When very high power laser pulses are emitted into the atmosphere, filaments of very intense light form inside the beam. These filaments ionize the molecules of nitrogen and oxygen present in the air, which then release free electrons to move. This ionized air, called plasma, becomes an electrical conductor.
The main purpose of the laser is therefore to guide the lightning towards the lightning conductor, thus making it possible to obtain a greater radius of action.
Images of the laser that can deflect lightning
The Lightning Rod is not an ultra powerful laser. It has a power of one kilowatt, and has already been tested at an altitude of 2,500 meters in Santis, Switzerland, in an area that is one of the most at risk in Europe. For three months, the laser was activated during periods of strong lightning, and accompanied a lightning rod with a radius of 120 meters.
Eventually, the laser increased in radius by 60 meters, thus increasing to 180 meters. Without being completely crazy, it is a very satisfactory result for a first test. The medium-term objective is to mount up to 500 meters of coverage for a lightning rod of only 10 meters.