Development of an electric field sensor without using of moving parts

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Supervisor:
Dr. Németh Bálint
Department of Electric Power Engineering

The purpose of lightning protection is to protect our buildings and our lives. This is achieved by mounting a system consisting of a lightning rod, a down conductor, and a grounded rod, to the object we want to protect. When we are developing a lightning protection system belonging to a certain building we have to take into account the properties of the building, also the attributes of its environment.

However in several cases conventional lightning protection cannot be used. Such a situation can occur at a construction site, or maybe during an outdoor event, in this case we are not aiming for the safe down-conducting of the lightning current. Our aim is that when the lightning strike occurs then no life and values should be at risk. When we are trying to avoid the outcomes of a lightning strike we are talking about preventive lightning protection.

For this we have to predict somehow the occurrence of such events. The prediction is made by observing the movement of the thunderstorm clouds. That is made possible because we can locate the exact place of the lightning strikes with relatively high accuracy.

Making predictions only considering this method is not recommended since there is a possibility that a thunderstorm is formed right above the protected area. Due to this we are not able to give a warning in this scenario. Inter alia, this is why we are using local sensors capable of sensing electric field. From the strength of the electric field and from its sign we can conclude how dangerous is staying outdoors. The only problem with this device is that it contains moving parts.

The aim of this thesis to develop a device similar to the electric field mill. This sensor then could be used for preventive lightning protection purposes, although this version won’t contain moving parts. By abandoning these we will lengthen the lifespan of our device, we will reduce the energy it uses and this could reduce its size. This is achieved by the periodic shielding of the electrodes by not a rotating grille, but with a bilateral CMOS switch.

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