Lightning-proof Bolt Tents Will Keep You Safe in a Storm
Industrial Design student Kama Jania from the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow, Poland has created a working prototype of a lightning-proof tent. The Bolt tent is part of a series of three different tents that are each designed to protect users from direct lightning strikes and step voltage (when lightning current or discharge flows between the ground and the feet of a person).
Jania was inspired to create the tent after reading statistics about how many people are actually struck by lightning each year, fueled by her very own fear of thunderstorms.
"When I was a child I was terrified by loud thunder and lightning, even when I was at home," Kama Jania tells Gizmag. "Now I am also scared of thunderstorms, but only in open spaces, particularly in the mountains. I love outdoor activities such hiking and climbing and sometimes I find myself in a difficult situation, especially when a storm comes in. Thus I created the Bolt series of tents."
To create the very first lightning-proof prototype, Jania used aluminum poles and an aluminum connector, which can withstand 200 kiloamperes. A waterproof fabric was used for the flooring of the tent, along with Mylar insulation and copper wiring which is connected to the ground stakes.
Under the supervision of Professor Michał Kracik PhD, and alongside physicists Konrad Sobolewski and Aleksander Bogucki, Jania took on the long process of working out the exact calculations and collaborations needed to test the Bolt tent against high voltage contact, without it going up in flames or causing severe damage to the materials.
The prototype tent underwent multiple high voltage experiments, using discharges from an impulse voltage generator. Jania placed an electrode inside the tent, to represent the occupant's head and a high current generator was used to test the durability of the tent.
Jania notes that "some scorching appeared at the pole joints due to the very high temperatures reached at those points. The stakes, which laid freely on the laboratory floor during the tests, melted to some extent. Again, it was a result of the high temperatures generated at those points during the discharges."
Apart from the above, the experiments were a great success and demonstrated the tent's ability to protects its occupant from direct lightning strikes.