Thunderstorms are beautiful when you are inside a sheltered area, but the experience can be terrifying when you are outside, especially if you are in an open area. To help outdoor enthusiasts find safety during a sudden storm, industrial Design student Kama Jania from the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow, Poland has created a new line of lightning-proof tents that were featured recently in Designboom.
The new “Bolt” tent looks like any other tent you would see on the trail or at a campsite, but it has an internal design that separates it from your typical store-bought shelter. The aluminum poles can withstand up to 200 kiloamperes and are intended to route a direct lightning hit away from the people seeking refuge in the tent. An added waterproof groundsheet protects the occupant from ground-based step voltages, which occurs when the current from a lightning bolt radiates through the ground following a strike.
Working with Professor Michał Kracik Ph.D. and physicists Konrad Sobolewski and Aleksander Bogucki, Jania tested the Bolt tents using both high voltage and high current generators. In the high-voltage tests, the tent was subjected to discharges produced by an impulse voltage generator. A simulated tourist head was placed inside the tent to measure the voltage that reached the occupant. While the high-voltage test measured occupant exposure, the current generator test was used to determine the tent’s durability. In these tests, a series of electrical discharges with various peak current values were aimed at the tent’s poles. The tents passed the testing phase with only minor scorching on the poles and some melting observed on the tent stakes due to the high temperatures from the simulated lightning strikes.
As conceptualized, the Bolt has three different designs based on the size of the shelter needed for hiking or camping. The largest tent is the Bolt Half (1.2 kg/2.65 lb), a half-tent suitable for multi-day trips in areas with ledges or ridges. The Bolt One is a single-person tent that is roomy enough for overnight camping while the Bolt Air is an ultra lightweight pneumatic shelter for day trips where an overnight stay is not expected. Each tent is made of a waterproof and breathable fabric with a frame that is easy to setup. Like most tents, the outer skin uses clips to attach to an aluminum pole frame that almost self-assembles due to its unique pole locking mechanism. An added window and a spacious entrance add a bit of comfort the portable abodes.
Unfortunately, Jania has no plans to manufacture the lightning-proof tents and instead is looking for a commercial partner to carry on the idea. The innovative grad student also is working on other outdoor-related projects, including a water collector that gathers water from different atmospheric heights.