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Lightning is frequently the primary cause of fires and often an indirect cause of fires and Explosions because of induced voltages and sparks which may ignite flammable vapors. There are four different types of lightning strokes: (1) The negative downward stroke, (2) The positive downward stroke, (3) The positive upward stroke, (4) The negative upward stroke. Lightning does not always occur between cloud and ground. Lightning strokes can also occur between clouds. Lightning is generated in clouds. These clouds are very large and can reach a height of over 65,000 ft (19.825). The bases are usually from ½ mile (0.8 km) to 2½ miles (4 km) high, and from 5 to 30 miles (8.04 to 48.27 km) in diameter. These clouds contain water droplets, ice particles, snow, and hail. The rain from one of these clouds can be as much as 1½ in. (38 mm) in a very short time over an area of at least one square mile (2.6 km). This water would weigh over a hundred thousand tons (90.7 x 106 kg). Therefore, it takes upward moving winds of considerable speed to keep all this moisture suspended in air. This high upward air movement in a thundercloud also moves the hailstones, water droplets, ice particles, and snow inside the clouds. The movement of these particles against each other leads to a charge buildup inside the cloud, similar to the way static electricity is generated.
000 miles per second (32. or 10. Tanks containing flammable and combustible liquids and gases stored at atmospheric pressure have been known to be set on fire by lightning. The return stroke from earth contains the major part of the lightning discharge. Fires can be started by a direct hit from lightning or from sparking induced from a lightning strike in the vicinity of the tank. and then proceeds downward again on a different path. with the negative charges on the bottom of the cloud and positive charges on the top of the cloud.000 km/sec) for the main stroke. The tip of the leader is essentially at the same potential as the cloud. As the cloud moves over the earth and objects on the earth. the negative charge on the bottom of the cloud attracts a positive charge on earth and its objects. At some moment. the gap is completed and this is known as the point of discrimination.000 amperes in the most extreme case. After each step the leader pauses for about 50 microseconds. . known as the striking distance.The charges tend to separate. At some distance from the earth. The current can be as high as 270. lasting for a longer duration. As many as 40 component strokes have been observed from a single flash The speed ranges from 100 miles per second (161 km/sec) for the leader stroke to 20. As the leader heads downward. a downward leader is initiated from the cloud.000 amperes in a more typical case. lasting for a few microseconds. it is ionizing the air and thus allowing a current to flow. The potential can be as high as 15 million volts. It progresses toward the earth in discrete steps.
from accumulating outside such structures. . Openings where flammable concentrations of vapor or gas can escape to the atmosphere must be closed or otherwise protected against the entrance of flame.On ordinary structures. Flammable liquids must be stored in essentially gastight structures. gage hatches. 3. fires can start from a direct strike and also from damage to electrical equipment when high currents enter the building on the electrical service either because overhead wires are struck or because very high currents are induced in these overhead conductors by a nearby strike. (2) Tightly sealed to prevent the escape of liquids vapors. Structures and all appurtenances (e. vent valves) must be maintained in good operating condition. to the greatest possible extent. or gases. 4.77 mm or more in thickness If the tanks do not meet the above requirements. Flammable vapor-air mixtures must be prevented.g. then the following should be adhered to for protection of these structures and their contents from lightning damage: 1. and (3) Are 4.. Tanks or vessels that contain flammable liquids and gases are in effect protected against lightning and need no additional protection if they are: (1) Metal structures that are electrically continuous. 2.
This system will be examined in more detail later in this chapter. and ground rods or a loop conductor system. masts.05 m). down conductors.5 m).5. the lightning protection system could be air terminals (lightning rods). This will equalize the potential between the tank walls and the roof. The roofs of these tanks should be bonded to the shoes of the seals at intervals not exceeding 10 ft (3. or overhead wires. . In addition. The most common type of protection on ordinary structures consists of air terminals. This can be from a direct stroke or induced sparks. Both the mast and overhead wire protection are based on a striking distance of 100 ft (30. the striking distance (the distance over which final breakdown of the initial strike to ground or to a grounded object occurs) exceeds 100 ft (30. Therefore. The mast and overhead wire method gives a zone of protection. the zone of protection is based on 100 ft (30. In most cases.5 m).5 m) to give an adequate level of protection. The zone of protection is a circular arc concave upward from the top of a mast or from an overhead wire. Potential spark gaps between metal conductors must be avoided at points where flammable vapors may escape or accumulate. thus reducing the possibility of a spark jumping the gap between the roof and tank where a flammable vapor would be. (See Figure) Tanks with floating roofs often have a after started by lightning around the vapor seal.
skylights. damage will usually result because of the heat and mechanical forces. There is resistance and inductance on the down conductor. tile. there may be processes and environments that could be classified as hazardous.62 m) for an air terminal of not less than 24 in. This leads to a potential on the down conductor. down conductors. Flashover or side flash is when an arc jumps between two objects at different potential. a ground system. spires. or dust. For instance. and grounding. When a grounded metal object is in close proximity to 'his conductor. the edge is most likely to get struck. water tanks.1 m) for an air terminal of not less than 10 in. ventilators. there is the potential for flashover or side flash to occur. A high-resistance path is wood. towers. The air terminals can be spaced every 20 ft (6. The parts of a building most likely to be struck by lightning are those that project above the surrounding parts. ridges. The theory is that this gives the lightning current a low resistance path to ground. and conductors connecting the two. such as chimneys. or other similar material. brick. A standard lightning protection system for ordinary structures consists of an air terminal. and parapets. . dormers. When lightning strikes a building. stone.Ordinary structures are protected with a system containing air terminals. when lightning strikes an air terminal. an arc or flashover can occur between the down conductor and the grounded metal object. concrete. (610 mm) above the object being protected on a flat roof. When the lightning current follows through a high-resistance path. current flows down a conductor to ground. On a flat roof. gables. (254 mm) and every 25 ft (7. flagpoles. thus igniting a flammable liquid. vapor. In ordinary structures.
A zone of" protection is developed by the air terminals for a striking distance of 150 ft (45. All air terminals must have two paths to ground except for some situations that involve a dormer or other similar structure.05 m) into the earth.7 m). The ground rod must be not less than 10 ft (3. (12. These include multiple ground rods and buried grid systems.44 m) in length.77 . Down conductors connect the air terminal to a ground system. or stainless steel not less than ½ in. There are other grounding methods that can be used to obtain better grounds for high-resistance soil conditions.5 m) of perimeter or fraction thereof. Structures exceeding 200 ft (61 m) in perimeter must have a down conductor for every 100 ft (30. refer to NFPA 78.7 m) in diameter and 8 ft (2. For further information on lightning protection. The bonding of these metal bodies will equalize the potential between the two metal objects. On flat roofs that exceed a length or width of 50 ft (15. Bonding of metal bodies and grounded metal bodies to the lightning protection system is needed to reduce the possibility of a side flash. The grounding of the system is very important. additional air terminals must be provided. The typical grounding system consists of ground rods. solid copper.2 m). There should always be at least two down conductors for every system. Ground rods are copper-clad steel. The objective is to obtain a low-resistance ground.
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