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Novel lightning threat indicator easily usable in meteorology, mainly to indicate the lightning threat (e.g. in operation of airports)

Country of Origin: Slovakia
Reference Number: TOSK20181026001
Publication Date: 7 November 2018


The unique technology takes advantage of information about the increase of electric charge of water droplets in a cloud, which is obtained by measuring the characteristics of electromagnetic (EM) radiation backscattered by a cloud at two wavelengths. The technology is usable in meteorology. An industrial partner for further development and for licensing of the technology is sought. The Slovak institute is looking for partners to cooperate with via license agreement or via financial agreement.


Nowadays exist several methods for prediction of storms with electric discharges. They mostly use technologies based on evaluation of radar and temperature data. Those that work in the radar mode determine the shape of droplets, which in this case serves as an indicator of presence of an increased amount of electric charge. In essence, it is a detection of particle morphology, as this is related to electric charge. The main disadvantage of these methods is their relation to the particle shape, as this can change significantly with meteorological conditions, leading to uncertainties in the interpretation of the measured data, and also often to large errors or even to the inapplicability of the method under given conditions.
A system has been developed at the Slovak research institute in cooperation with established Slovak university and with US researcher laboratory. The research institute was established in 1953 in order to carry out fundamental and applied research and new developments in the field of civil engineering and architecture. Over a period of more than forty years the institute has developed to address the changing needs of theoretical, numerical and experimental research for professionals,
firms and enterprises involved in structural engineering, mechanics, architecture, design, materials, building research and constructions in civil engineering and building
science generally.

The advantage of the offered system is that it does not depend on external factors such as wind shear which has an influence on particle morphology, and thus could indirectly disable a correct interpretation of the measured data. An incorrect evaluation can lead to a false indication of a potential lightning threat.
The new solution is based on the analysis of optical signals of back scattered radiation, which are a demonstration of the electric charge. The developed electric charge monitoring system uses a simple principle in which electrically charged particles with dimensions of at least 100 times smaller than the wavelength of the radar signal scatter electromagnetic radiation with altered efficiency. Due to small droplet dimensions, this method is advantageous for radars operating in the microwave region, i.e. at wavelengths of several millimetres or more. The backscatter intensity measured by the detector is essentially a superposition of intensities of scattered radiation generated by all the droplets visible in the field of view of the device.

The principle of function of this technology could be seen at the picture attached in this technology offer. A source produces EM radiation of two frequencies that is directed toward a cloud of water droplets. The backscattered light from these droplets is collected by the receiver. The individual intensity components of the two wavelengths are separated in software of within the electronics. The ratio of there two intensities can be monitored.
By measuring the backscatter signal EM radiation at two wavelenghs, it is found that the ratio of these two signals remains constant in the case of conventional aqueous cloud, regardless of size of number of droplets. However, from the moment at which the charging of droplets starts to occur to the moment at which there is a potential threat of lightning, the ratio of signals of scattered radiation will increase.

The research institute is looking for partners to cooperate with via license agreement (they are looking for licensees) or via financial agreement (an investor is sought).

Advantages and Innovations

Competitive advantage:
• Prediction capability independent of droplet morphology (the novel technology is based on optical properties),
• Prediction capability independent of external factors such as wind shear.

Stage Of Development

Concept stage

Stage Of Development Comment

TRL 2 - technology concept and/or application formulated.

Requested partner

Type: company (industry)
Field of activity: no preference. The technology is usable e.g. in applied meteorology, mainly the use of information about the state of electric charge of water droplets to indicate the lightning threat for various applications (e.g. in operation of airports).
Role: License agreement - the Slovak research institute is looking for licensees, ideally for industrial partner for further development and for licensing the technology.
Financial agreement - an investor into this technology is sought.

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