Transient Lightning Electromagnetic Field Coupling With An Airborne Vehicle In The Presence Of Its Conducting Exhaust Plume
Abstract
The indirect effects of a nearby lightning strike on an airborne vehicle with its long trailing conducting plume is not well understood. Since airborne vehicles and its payload are expensive, their loss as a result of either a direct strike or due to the induced current and voltage of a nearby lightning strike is not desirable. The electromagnetic field generated due to the induced current on the skin of the vehicle may get coupled with the internal circuitry through the apertures on the vehicle body. If the coupled electromagnetic energy is more than the damage threshold level of the sensitive devices of the control circuit, they may fail which may lead to aborting the mission or a possible degradation in the vehicle performance. It has been reported that lightning induced phenomena was the cause of malfunctioning as well as aborting of some of the lunar missions. So in the present work, the computation of induced current and voltage on the skin of the vehicle body in the presence of an ionized long trailing exhaust plume has been attempted.
The lightning channel is assumed to be vertical to the ground plane and extends up to a height of 7.5 km. The radiated electric and magnetic fields from the lightning channel at different heights from 10 m to 10 km and for lateral distances varying from 20 m to 10 km from the lightning channel are computed and the field waveforms are presented. For the computation of the radiated electric and magnetic fields from the lightning channel, modified transmission line with exponential current decay (MTLE) model for representing the lightning channel and the Heidler’s expression for the lightning channel base current are used. The peak amplitude of the lightning current used is 12 kA with a maximum current derivative of 40 kA/µs. It is seen that the vertical electric field in general, is bipolar in nature and that the height at which the change in polarity reversal takes place increases with increase of lateral distance from the lightning channel. The vertical electric field just above the ground is unipolar for all lateral distances from the channel and this is because the contribution due to the image of the lightning channel dominates the vertical electric field. The horizontal electric field is always unipolar for all heights and all lateral distances from the lightning channel studied. The effect of variation in the rate of rise of lightning current (di/dt) and the velocity of lightning current on the radiated electric and magnetic fields for the above heights and distances have also been studied. It is seen that the variation in maximum current derivative does not have a significant influence on the electric field when ground is assumed as a perfect conductor but it influences significantly the horizontal electric field when ground has finite conductivity. The velocity of propagation of lightning current on the other hand has a significant influence for both perfectly as well as finitely conducting ground conditions.
For the computation of the induced current and voltage on the body of the airborne vehicle due to the coupling of the above mentioned electromagnetic fields radiated from a near by lightning discharge, the vehicle and its exhaust plume have been modeled as a transmission line and Finite Difference Time Domain (FDTD) numerical technique has been used for the computation. Regardless of the vehicle size, the structure can be modeled as a nonuniform transmission line consisting of a series of sections consisting of capacitive and inductive components. These components of the vehicle and its exhaust plume are computed using the Method of Moment (MoM) technique.
The interaction of the electromagnetic wave with the plume depends on the electrical conductivity as well as the gas dynamic characteristics of the plume. Hence, in this research work an attempt has also been made to study the electrical conductivity (σe) and permittivity (εe) as well as the gas dynamic properties of the exhaust plume taking into consideration its turbulent nature. In general, the airborne vehicle can be considered as perfectly conducting (conductivity 3x107 S/m) where as the plume has finite conductivity. The electrical properties of an airborne vehicle exhaust plume such as electrical conductivity and the permittivity and their distribution along axial and radial directions depend on several factors. They are (i) propellant composition, (ii) impurity content in the propellants which generate ionic charge particles in the exhaust and (iii) the characteristics of the exhaust plume intensive parameters such as temperature, pressure, velocity and the presence of shock waves. These properties of the exhaust plume are computed in the two separate regions of interest as discussed next. The first region is inside the combustion chamber and up to the nozzle throat of the vehicle and the second region is from the throat to the exterior i.e., the ambient atmosphere or the downstream of the plume. In the first region where chemical reaction kinetics have to be considered, NASA Chemical Equilibrium with Application (CEA) software package has been used to compute the intensive parameters of the fluid at the throat of the nozzle. The pressure in the combustion chamber is taken as 4410 kPa and the back pressure at the exit plane is taken as 101.325 kPa. In the second region, FLUENT software package have been used for the fluid dynamic study of the exhaust plume from the vehicle nozzle throat to the exterior domain. The data obtained from the first region using CEA provides the parameters at the nozzle throat that are used as input parameters for the second region. In the study, a conical nozzle configuration of throat radius (rt) of 0.0185 m (nozzle exit plane radius is 0.05 m), half cone angle of 18º and nozzle expansion ratio (Ae/At) of 7.011 are used.
The contour plot of the intensive parameters of the exhaust plume and the mass fraction of the charged particles are presented. The vehicle exhaust flow passes through different types of expansion and compression waves. In the present work, simulation is done for a slightly under expanded nozzle i.e. nozzle exit static pressure is slightly more than the ambient static pressure. Since the exit pressure is more than the ambient pressure, the exhaust gases expand to reach the ambient pressure. As the expansion waves reach the contact discontinuity (i.e. the boundary where the outer edge of the gas flow meets the free stream air), they again reflect back inward to create compression waves. These compression waves force the flow to turn back inward and increase its pressure. If the compression waves are strong enough, they will merge into an oblique shock wave. In the present work, more than eight such barrel shocks are captured. When the shock waves are generated, Mach number reduces sharply and static temperature and static pressure increases where as the total temperature of the exhaust remains constant in the shock wave formations.
The characteristics of the plume such as pressure, temperature, velocity and concentration of the charged particles (i.e., e¯, Na+ and Cl¯) and neutral species such as CO, CO2 , Cl, H, HCl, H2O, H2 , N2, Na, NaCl, O, OH and O2 along axial and radial directions in the external domain have been studied. The above parameters are used to compute the collision frequencies and plasma frequencies of the charged particles as well as the number density of the species along axial and radial directions of the exhaust plume. These parameters are used to compute the effective conductivity distribution in the axial and radial directions for an incident electromagnetic field of frequency 1 MHz. The peak value of the conductivity computed is 0.12 S/m near the exit plane and it reduces to 0.02 S/m at an axial distance of 7.5 m from the exit plane which is well within the range suggested in the published literature. It has been observed that the oscillation in the conductivity along axial direction is a reflection of the shock wave formation in the exhaust plume.
The electrical conductivity and the relative permittivity of the exhaust plume have been computed for three different radii of the nozzle at the exit plane i.e., 0.025 m, 0.05 m and 0.075 m. It is seen that the distribution of the conductivity and relative permittivity along the axial direction of the exhaust are independent of the nozzle exit plane radius.
To study the coupling of lightning electromagnetic field with the vehicle and its exhaust plume two cases have been considered. These are (i) when the vehicle and its exhaust plume are at certain height above the ground and (ii) when the exhaust plume is touching the ground. The dimensions of the vehicle used in the study are as follows: length of the vehicle is 20 m and the length of its exhaust plume is 75 m. The radius of the vehicle is taken as 0.5 m. The vehicle and its exhaust plume are assumed to be at a lateral distance of 250 m from the lightning channel.
In case one, when the vehicle and its inhomogeneous exhaust plume tip is at a height of 10 m above the ground, both the ends are open. So the reflection coefficients of the current wave and voltage wave at the end points are 1 and +1 respectively irrespective of the characteristic impedances of the vehicle and its exhaust plume. So when the reflected current propagates it will tend to reduce along the length of the object. Hence, the induced current at the end points are zero and the currents in the end segments are less than those in the intermediate segments. The spatial distribution of the peak magnitude of the time varying induced current, Imax, in each segment along the length of the vehicle without and with the exhaust plume are presented. In case of vehicle without plume, the maximum value of the induced current is at the middle segment of the vehicle and its value is 4.8 A. The presence of the inhomogeneous plume enhances the maximum value of the induced current to 33 A and its position is shifted to the exhaust plume side. When the voltage wave propagates, it will enhance the induced voltage in the vehicle body. The time varying potential difference between the end points of the vehicle without plume and the vehicle with its exhaust plume which drives the induced current are computed and it is seen that the potential difference for the vehicle without plume is unipolar whereas it is bipolar for the vehicle with exhaust plume. The lightning induced current on the skin of the vehicle will generate an electromagnetic field which may couple with the internal electronic devices and circuits through the apertures. The amount of electromagnetic energy that will be transmitted through an aperture on the vehicle skin and coupled with the internal electronic equipments depends on the characteristics of the induced current on the skin of the vehicle, the electrical size, shape, orientation and location of the aperture and the location of the internal electronic devices with respect to the aperture. So the time varying induced current and its di/dt at three different locations on the vehicle body i.e., tail of the vehicle, middle of the vehicle and vehicle nose are computed. It is seen that the induced current on the vehicle and its di/dt in the absence of the plume are oscillating in nature but they are critically damped in the presence of the trailing inhomogeneous exhaust plume. It also shows that the enhancement of induced current and its di/dt at the tail are much more than at the middle or at the nose of the vehicle which is true for an electrically short vehicle i.e., lv/λmin ≈ 0.067 as cited in the literature. So the presence of an aperture on the skin of the vehicle near to tail will transmit maximum electromagnetic energy into the inside of the vehicle. Therefore during design of the electrically short airborne vehicles, any aperture should be avoided near the tail of the vehicle or internal electronic devices should be placed away from the tail of the vehicle.
In case 2, when the plume is touching the ground, the transient induced current in the plume will propagate into the soil. The effective impedance for smaller currents will be quite high (the inductance and capacitance effect are not taken into consideration for calculating the impedance. So the impedance of the soil is dominated by only the resistance). However, as soon as the current exceeds a certain value, the resulting soil gradient can reach the breakdown gradient of the soil i.e., 200500 kV/m as cited in literature resulting in soil ionization. This will effectively lower the soil impedance. These dynamic characteristics of the soil resistance with induced current are incorporated by considering the expression for the soil resistance.
To study the effect of soil resistivity on the time varying induced current and the voltage, computations have been done for various resistivities of the soil i.e., 0 Ωm, 100 Ωm and 200 Ωm. For soil resistivity of 0 Ωm, the reflection coefficients at the ground and at the open ends for the current wave are +1 and 1 respectively. So at the ground end, the reflected current wave will enhance and at the open end it will diminish as it propagates along the length of the vehicle and its exhaust. As the resistivity of the soil increases, the reflection coefficient of the current at the ground end decreases from +1, so the peak magnitude of the current reduces along the length till the length is half of the total length of the plume and the vehicle. Therefore, the peak magnitude of the induced current in the ground segment is much more than the peak magnitude of the current in the segment at the open end. For a finitely conducting plume, the peak value of the potential difference between the two ends of the vehicle and its exhaust plume are 92 kV, 91 kV and 90 kV for soil resistivities of 0 Ωm 100 Ωm and 200 Ωm respectively. Therefore the influence of the soil resistivity on the induced current is found to be not much significant. The spatial distribution of the peak magnitude of the time varying induced current in each segment along the length of the vehicle with inhomogeneous exhaust plume for the above three different soil resistivities are presented at a lateral distance of 250 m from the lightning channel. It is seen that when the plume is touching the ground, the induced current on the vehicle at the tail, middle and nose sections are marginally more than when the vehicle and its exhaust are at a height of 10 m above the ground.
The effects of different parameters such as peak value and maximum di/dt of lightning current, velocity of lightning current, lateral distance of the vehicle from lightning channel and the height of the tip of the exhaust plume above the ground on the induced current and voltage on the airborne vehicle have also been studied. The peak amplitude of the lightning current used are 30 kA and 100 kA in addition to 12 kA mentioned earlier for the field computation. Also maximum di/dt values of 40 kA/µs and 120 kA/µs for the lightning current have been used for the computation. It is observed that the induced current increases with increase of the peak value, maximum di/dt as well as the velocity of propagation of the lightning current where as the induced current will reduce with increase of lateral distance and height of the tip of the exhaust plume above the ground.
As an offshoot of the present work, the axial and radial distribution of the parameter, σe/ωεe (loss tangent of the exhaust plume) for an incident electromagnetic wave (lightning electromagnetic field) frequency of 1 MHz have been computed to study the conducting properties of the exhaust plume. σe/ωεe of the exhaust plume at 1 MHz frequency varies from 2324 to 365. Since σe/ωεe >>1, the plume behaves as a good conductor and the displacement currents can be neglected. In addition to this, the variation of parameter σe/ωεe for frequency ranges of 0.1 MHz to 5 GHz are also studied where σe and εe are the maximum effective conductivity and permittivity of the exhaust plume at the chosen frequency of an incident EM wave. It shows that the parameter σe/ωεe is 1.8x104 at 0.1 MHz and reduces to 0.45 for 5 GHz and its value is 1 at a frequency of 2.285 GHz. Therefore at lower EM wave frequency, the exhaust plume behaves as a good conductor and that conductivity reduces with increase of the frequency. The exhaust plume in the present study behaves as a good conductor below or at the EM wave frequency of 2.285 GHz.
The microwave attenuation of electromagnetic wave through the ionized plume (the angle of incidence of microwave is 90o and transmission of microwave is always transverse to the exhaust plume) has also been studied using the above electrical characteristics computed and it is seen that the attenuation follows the axial variation in the conductivity of each cross section of the plume. In the present work, a theoretical model has also been developed to compute the microwave attenuation through the vehicle exhaust plume using the electrical conductivity computed earlier for any angle of incidence of the microwave. The thesis also lists some additional topics for further studies.
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