Numerical Simulations of Long Spark and Lightning Attachment

University dissertation from Uppsala : Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis

Abstract: The research work presented here is concerned with numerical simulations of two different electrical phenomena: Long gap electrical discharges under switching impulses and the lightning attachment process associated with positive upward leaders. The development of positive upward leaders and the progression of discharges in long gaps are attributable to two intertwined physical phenomena, namely, the leader channel and the streamer zone. The physical description and the proposed calculations of the above-mentioned phenomena are based on experimental tests conducted in long spark gaps.The methodology presented here proposes a new geometrical approximation for the representation of the streamer and the calculation of the accumulated electrical charge. Furthermore, two different approaches to representing the leader channel are applied and compared. Statistical delays before the inception of the first corona, and random distributions to represent the tortuous nature of the path taken by the leader channel were included based on the behavior observed in experimental tests, with the intention of ensuring the discharge behaved in a realistic manner. A reasonable agreement was found between the physical model and the experimental test results.A model is proposed to simulate the negative discharges produced by switching impulses using the methodology developed to simulate positive leader discharges and the physics underlying the negative leader phenomena. The validation of the method demonstrated that phenomena such as the pilot leader and negative leader currents are successfully represented.In addition, based on previous work conducted on the physics of lightning and the lightning attachment process, a new methodology is developed and tested. In this new approach, the background electric field and the ionized region, considered in conjunction with the advance of the leader segment, are computed using a novel method. The proposed methodology was employed to test two engineering methods that are accepted in international standards, the mesh method and the electro-geometrical method. The results demonstrated that the engineering approximations are consistent with the physical approach.In addition to the electrical phenomena mentioned above, one should remember that, to simplify the calculation, there are certain real effects arising from the lightning attachment process that have not been considered. In fact, when a structure is subjected to a strong electric field, it is possible to generate multiple upward leaders from that structure. This effect has not been taken into account in the numerical models available previously, and therefore the process of generating multiple upward leaders incepted over a structure is incorporated here. The results have shown that a slight advantage from the background electric field is enough for one upward connecting leader to take over, thereby forcing the others to abort the attachment process.