Modification of atmospheric DC fields by space charge from high-voltage power lines

AP Fews, RJ Wilding, PA Keitch, NK Holden, DL Henshaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Corona ion discharge is responsible for a flux of small ions emanating from an overhead power line capable of modifying the ambient electrical environment. The ensuing space charge can be detected as a change in magnitude of the earth's natural DC electric field at ground level. DC field mill meters were used to measure the vertical component of electric fields upwind and downwind of 132 and 400 kV power lines. Evidence of space charge blowing downwind of power lines was observed in 21 out of 22 cases. Time series measurements recorded in the downwind direction were highly variable with fields of higher magnitude compared to those recorded upwind. Model DC field profiles were used to estimate a lower limit to the space charge density at body height arising from power lines. The average lower limit was 3000 cm−3 excess unipolar charges. The result suggests that between 10% and 60% of outdoor aerosols gain excess charge by the attachment of corona ions. Downwind of a 400 kV line in Somerset that was prone to excessive corona discharge, the estimated mean lower limit excess unipolar space charge density was 6000 cm−3, suggesting that up to 100% of aerosols gain excess charge by the attachment of corona ions. Investigations into the time variation of DC electric fields around motorways and the natural diurnal variation of the earth's DC field were also undertaken and compared to the power line data. The results show that the power line time series are clearly distinguishable from typical examples of both types of field variation, demonstrating the relatively highly charged atmospheres that generally exist around high-voltage power lines. The results are of potential public health concern, because they suggest a degree of aerosol charging that may result in a non-trivial increase in lung deposition of inhaled pollutant aerosols.
Translated title of the contributionModification of atmospheric DC fields by space charge from high-voltage power lines
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)271 - 289
Number of pages19
JournalAtmospheric Research
Volume63 (3-4)
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2002

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Elsevier

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Modification of atmospheric DC fields by space charge from high-voltage power lines'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this