Charge dissipation to prevent lightning
and eliminate static electricity has developed into a useful tool in preventing damage to
sensitive electronic equipment. With the increased usage of computers and microprocessing
in communications, instrumentation and automatic controls, facilities have become more
vulnerable to failures and outages due to the effects of lightning, power surges and
How Does It Work?
Before and during a thunderstorm, electric
fields of extremely high voltages build up. If the energy in these fields is not
dissipated, arcing and breakdown of insulation can occur, leading to damage in solid state
components. Dissipation works by slowly discharging the energy in the fields over a
relatively long time period at very low current levels, rather than by the instantaneous
high current discharge from a lightning strike.
When Does It
As a storm approaches and the voltage of the
electric field builds up, each sharp point within the dissipation array begins to conduct
into the surrounding air by ionizing the air molecules above it. If enough points are
available and are arranged in the proper geometric configuration, the energy in the
electric field is slowly dissipated by conduction of the points into the air. The field
voltages needed for lightning will never be attained.
This is a scientific process first touched on by
Benjamin Franklin more than two centuries ago. However, since then, and most notably over
the last twenty years, the technology of static charge dissipation has developed to the
point where damage to electronic equipment can be reduced from 90 to 99 percent, depending
on the site and storm intensity. Many sites have never had a recurrence of lightning after
installing a properly engineered dissipation array
The Gila-Stat is an improved version of a design that
has had great success for more than 15 years. Constructed of stainless steel and
high quality aluminum, it is extremely rugged to survive the worst weather conditions for
many years. Unlike some dissipators that are made with thin wires that can be damaged by
wind, ice and hail, the Gila-Stat is made with 1/8" stainless steel individually
sharpened rods which will not be damaged by weather, birds or other hazards.
Included is a mount which is custom
manufactured to suit the customer's application. Normally a ground wire is not needed if
there is an adequate path for the small electrical current, but ground wire and ground
rods can be supplied. There must be a path of low resistance to the current to ground, but
his is not difficult to attain.
The Gila-Stat can be used singly or as a
system of dissipators for large facilities such as cogeneration plants or tall broadcast
or communications towers.