DoE tests utility poles that go out after lightning strike

Sun FireDefense announced the results of a test using flame retardant with the Department of Energy’s Bonneville Power Administration.

An engineering and technical service report titled “Evaluation of Fire Retardant Treatment of Wood Poles” energized two weathered cedar poles in the field with a simulated lightning strike that caused the treated pole to “burn less vigorously and off faster”. The test was significant in that the heat from a lightning strike is around 50,000 degrees compared to a typical wildfire, which is around 1400 degrees and the application for which the spray formula was developed and patented.

The test consisted of the Bonneville Transmission Line Technical Services (TELM) group spraying a pole with Sun Fire Defenses SPF3000 fire retardant, allowing it to dry and harden. They then fed both poles from a 460 kV winding of the Bonneville Fog Chamber test transformer. It was grounded through a Pearson 110a current transformer used to measure the current through the pole. A terahertz fiber link was used to transmit the current measurement to the control room where it was displayed on a portable Fluke meter. Infrared images were taken of the first tests on the treated pole. The infrared image clearly shows the current path through the pole.

“SPF3000 was formulated to be sprayed on building materials, dried and cured prior to a fire,” said Sun FireDefense CEO Jim Moseley. “For utilities, this test is important based on the hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and lawsuit settlements they’ve endured that claim utility poles started fires. can prevent wildfires from triggering events;this test shows that our product can be an effective tool.Just last month, PG&E was sued by plaintiff alleging they were responsible for the mosquito fire which has burned 76,000 acres, destroyed more than a hundred structures in the area Southern California Edison has faced multiple class action lawsuits due to the Woolsey Fire We hope not only to serve as an initiative measure that owners , and now utilities, can use, as there are only a limited number of firefighters on the ground who respond when wildfires are already in motion.

Robert M. Larson