Marine Lightning Protection, revolutionary?
When I wrote about lightning a few years ago, I interviewed Dr. Ewen Thomson, then an associate professor of electrical engineering at the University of Florida and more-or-less the go-to guy when it came to this scary and mysterious phenomenon. Thomson was impressive, and I’ve been looking forward to the protection system he was working on as a side line to his teaching and research. Well, the time has come. Marine Lightning Protection Inc. is up and running and will be showing a complete system aboard the Mirage Great Harbour 47 at Powerboat Show in Annapolis.
The system works by creating, in effect, a “Faraday cage” around the boat and its occupants (illustrated below). It is named after inventor Michael Faraday who in 1836 discovered that an enclosure of conducting materials shielded its contents from electrical effects, and could be used to ptotect against lightning.
Thomson’s “Siedarcs” have also been installed on two sail boats— the mighty Maximus and the prototype of a Radford performance cruiser: “If lightning can be thought of as having a preference,” Thomson said, “that preference is to escape from a vessel at or near the waterline. By yielding to lightning’s natural tendencies, our system can minimize dangerous sideflashes. The development of the Siedarc is one of the revolutionary features of our system.”