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Main Deliverables of this Project

Develop a lightning detection and prevention device that can dissipate lightning, unlike a lightning arrestor (Franklin rod) which attracts lightning strikes and conducts the charge to ground. 


Figure 1 - Lightning

Lightning Strikes

When harsh sunlight hits the surface of the earth, water from the surface of the earth turns into water vapor and rises in to the atmosphere to create clouds. These are called cumulus clouds. These clouds get together to form bigger clouds start growing vertically in the sky. They get taller and taller until they represent huge powerhouses, storing a large amount of energy. These clouds are called cumulonimbus clouds, or better known as thunderclouds

In thunderclouds, electric charges are generated due to collision of ice particles and hail pellets due to the flow of air in the cloud. The electrical charges are distributed and roughly separated in different portions of the cloud. Negative charges tend to gather at the bottom of the cloud and positive charges move to the top of the cloud.

When these charges accumulate, the charges on the surface of the earth or water also start accumulating. 


Figure 1 - Lightning strike when a lightning rod is implemented

Such a large distribution of electrical charges generates a large electrostatic field between the thundercloud and the surface of the earth. As the electrostatic field develops, an advanced discharge extends from the both the earth as well as the base of the cloud.

The electrical discharge from the thundercloud is called a stepped leader. The voltage in the stepped leader is very large (about 500,000 million volts to 1 million). As the stepped leader comes near the earth, the charges from the earth start reaching out to the stepped leader.

The electrical discharge from the ground to the stepped leader are called rising streamers. The stepped leader makes contact with the rising streamer to create a lightning strike.

The positive charges start moving towards the cloud and the negative charges move to meet the nearest point to diffuse. This is when lightning occurs. 

Additional notes:

  • Electrical discharges take place constantly in the cloud and with other clouds. These are called inter cloud (IC) and cloud-to-cloud (CC) lightning. When the lightning happens from cloud to earth (ground), it is called a Cloud-to-Ground (CG) lightning.
  • The above example is when the negative charges accumulate at the base of the cloud and form a stepped leader, and positive charges from the ground form a rising streamer, the lightning strike that occurs is called Negative Cloud-to Ground (Negative CG) lightning strike
  • If the positive charges accumulate at the base of the cloud and form a stepped leader, and negative charges from the ground form a rising streamer, the lightning strike that occurs is called Positive Cloud-to-Ground (Positive CG) lightning strike.
  • If the discharges from the ground to cloud are stronger, a lightning strike is caused from the ground to the cloud. This is called Ground-to-Cloud (GC) lightning.

Why this is important

Lighting strikes can cause severe damages to human lives, buildings, property, boats and seapods. For over 200 years, the recommended method for lightning prevention is a lightning rod, also called Franklin rod, named after it's inventor, Benjamin Franklin. A lighting rod, or arrestor directs the lightning discharge to ground. The lighting rod is a metallic conductor placed at the highest point of a building or structure and connected to a copper rod buried deep in the ground. When lightning strikes, the electrostatic discharge is safely conducted from the lightning rod to ground without causing damages to buildings or structures. While the lighting rod is widely used in today's world, there have been incidents of damages to the rod and to the buildings and structures because of the intensity of lightning. 

Lightning rods do not prevent lightning. They attract lightning and conduct the electrical discharge to the ground.

What this Project needs to move forward

We need these skills to move this project forward:

  • Hands-on Builders - To collaborate with the team and build lightning dissipaters.
  • Electrical and electronics majors - To collaborate with the team and build lightning dissipaters and lightning spiders.
  • Mechanical/Automation Engineers - To build and operate the system.


Highlights of working on this project

  • Collaborate with talented people from different domains and areas of study and expertise
  • Build a strong team with people from diverse cultures and backgrounds
  • Learn project management, project reporting, delivery cycles
  • Work in a highly energized environment that focuses on high quality product development
  • Discover, learn, innovate, and invent new ways for preserving and growing marine life
  • Have fun in a super charged team of professionals students, collaborators, sponsors

For Contributors

  • Remuneration - This is a sponsored project. You will get paid for your contributions. Find out more from your project manager/project coordinator. [OR]
  • Remuneration - This is not a sponsored project. You will get credits, honorable mentions and a Certificate of Contribution from Ocean Builders.
  • Learning - This project offers you opportunities to learn about this concept/topic/technology. You will get to collaborate and work with industry experts and professionals who will share their experiences and guide you along with their best practices.
  • Culture - Work with people from different backgrounds, cultures, nationalities and get exposure to working on cross-functional and virtual teams.
  • Get Your Hands Dirty - Roll up your sleeves and get practical on this project. Experience the joy of designing or building a machine/system/device that will be used by millions of people worldwide. If you are not co-located, video conference with your team and collaborate.
  • Build and Grow your Professional Network - Collaborate on this project, make friends, and grow your professional network.

For Sponsors

  • Top Talent - Work with talented people and find new recruits for your business as you see this project take shape.
  • Goodwill - Get positive goodwill for your brand as a sponsor who is building something innovating and contributing to the future.
  • Personal and Business Use - Use this system and technology for your home/boat/ship/company/organization
    Branding - Brand it with your organization identity.
  • Monetize - Invest in his project and take it to market with your brand identity.

For Users

  • Get involved in the design phase and share your thoughts on how you would use this product or technology in your daily lives.
  • Give feedback at regular intervals and development stages to help this team to design and build a user-friendly system or technology.
  • Work with people from different countries, cultures, backgrounds and experiences. It's fun!


Get Recognition - Participate as an academician/student and contribute to research papers, college projects and participate in local, state, national, and international academic or technical conferences. Present papers on the innovations and advancements that have been made.

All of the above

Ocean Builders invites you to be a part of this project. You can be a sponsor, a contributor, a user, an academician AND you can be all of the above.