IEEE Drops Exotic Lightning Rod Project

The Standards Association of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) recently voted to terminate work on a standard to govern the so-called "Charge Transfer System" (CTS) type of lightning protection, at a March 20, 2005 hearing.

The CTS, which is sometimes called the "Dissipation Array System" (DAS) uses expensive, exotic multi-point lightning rods, which supposedly can prevent lightning from striking a particular location. The IEEE project, which began in December of 2000, remained inactive during most of its initial four-year term. The decision to terminate the project was made due to the absence of vendor-sponsored tests, which were supposed to establish the validity of the CTS theory. The tests were never circulated to IEEE working group members for their review. A Colorado firm, Lightning Eliminators and Consultants, which manufactures and sells CTS/DAS products played a central role in the IEEE project. Earlier this year, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) similarly turned down Lightning Eliminators and Consultant's request to develop a standard for CTS/DAS products. In a decision dated January 14, 2005 the NFPA Standards Council concluded that the manufacturer's request failed to demonstrate "ample basis in the scientific and technical literature to support meaningful standards development for CTS/DAS lightning protection systems." The decision marks the fifth occasion, since 1989 that the NFPA has denied such a request concerning the CTS/DAS concept.

The scientific community of independent lightning experts has also expressed skepticism regarding the CTS concept. A December 2002 paper published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society points out that there is no basis in science for claims that an object on the ground can significantly affect the formation and location of lightning strikes. CTS/DAS products were first introduced more than 30 years ago.

In the 1970's the US Navy conducted field tests of the so-called lightning eliminating systems and determined that the CTS/DAS devices fail to prevent lightning strikes, reporting instead several instances in which the devices were directly struck by lightning. The FAA similarly tested lightning dissipating devices on several air traffic control towers in Florida in the 1980's. These tests also found that the devices did not prevent lightning from striking.

"A CTS typically costs much more than a conventional lightning protection system because the customer pays an additional cost for the so-called lightning dissipating rods," said Mark Morgan, vice president of the

Lightning Safety Alliance (LSA), a non-profit, national league of lightning protection professionals and consumers dedicated to the promotion of lightning protection and safety. "Unfortunately for consumers, the evidence to-date shows the claims attached to these fancy lightning rods to be false."

In its mission to reduce the risk of fire hazards worldwide, the LSA also supports efforts of the Lightning Protection Institute (LPI), the NFPA and the National Electric Code (NEC), which are responsible for codes and standards that provide fire, electric and life safety to the public.



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