Scientists from Australia presented a compact device that can redirect lightning. This way, the researchers will reduce the risk of large fires.
The researchers explained that lightning can not only endanger people’s lives, but also cause fires by getting into dry grass, bush or tree. Climate change is reducing precipitation in already fire-prone areas, increasing the risk of fire.
That’s why scientists presented a portable device that can be delivered to a hurricane site and set up so that it directs lightning away from fire hazardous areas and vulnerable buildings. Scientists from the Australian National University, the University of New South Wales (Texas A&M) and the University of California at Los Angeles spoke about this development.
The group showed how this model works in the laboratory. They recreated storm conditions using two charged parallel plates separated by a small gap. Usually, electrical discharges simulating lightning jump between the plates, but in this case the researchers could control their direction.
In this case, the laser beam acts as a pointer for electrical discharge, and the conductor is a graphene micro-particle. In the system, the laser beam mirrors the process of lightning, paving the way and hinting a target for electrical discharge. The researchers explain that this is also not a very large electrical discharge that occurs between a positively charged ground and a negatively charged point.
Scientists have shown that a laser beam can heat air, creating a channel with high conductivity. Now the researchers are working on a powerful but compact laser unit. They will be able to redirect lightning from one cloud to another rather than to the ground.