Lightning Mitigation and Damage Detection

Lightning Mitigation and Damage Detection (LAR-TOPS-128)
For wind turbines and other tall structures
NASA's Langley Research Center has developed a patented SansEC Sensor Technology for use in many different areas, including tall structures and wind turbines. The SansEC technology is a proven wireless sensing platform capable of measuring the electrical impedance of physical matter in proximity to the sensor based on a change in its resonance response. The SansEC sensor also exhibits a unique characteristic to disperse the lightning strike current to help mitigate lightning damage. In a turbine blade application, an array of SansEC sensors will cover the surface area of the composite blade, providing both lightning mitigation and damage sensing. NASA Langley Research Center is seeking industrial partners/ licensees to commercialize this technology. The research team at NASA Langley is available to assist with further development.

The Technology
The NASA technology can be used to protect tall structures from lightning strike damage. When a lightning leader propagates through the atmosphere in the vicinity of a tall structure, the lightning electromagnetic emissions generated from the moving electrical charge will impinge upon the tall structure before the actual charge attaches. As the lightning leader propagates closer to the tall structure, the radiated emissions at the tall structure will grow stronger. The SansEC sensor is designed to operate within the lightning radiated emission spectrum and thus is passively powered by the external oscillating magnetic field from the lightning itself. The sensor will resonate and generate its own oscillating magnetic and electric fields which have been demonstrated to influence lighting attachment and propagation.
The NASA technology can be used to protect tall structures from lightning strike damage. Photo Credit: NASA
  • Provides necessary lightning strike protection
  • Senses damage in the underlying composite structure
  • Sensor is robust
  • Interrogation by radio frequency transponder
  • Can be retrofitted to existing turbine blades
  • Minimizes or eliminates wind turbine down-time and facilitates maintenance/ repair if needed

  • Wind turbines
  • Tall structures
Technology Details

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