IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2014 - 112

UBMI
S
TS

N
SIO

STRA
C
AB

That plant,
of course, is
now gone,
and Building
9 is nearly so.

World's Fair, the resulting
lightning discharge was at
15 million v and over a correspondingly greater distance. this "showmanship,"
however, was tougher on
the impulse generators than
routine testing. therefore,
it was eventually decided to
discontinue such displays
for fear of causing serious damage to the aging machines.
during the latter half of the 20th century, the high voltage laboratory became more involved with contract work
that had little or nothing to do with large power transformers. A significant such contract was with nASA for the
lightning protection of their rocket-launching facility in
Florida, then still known as cape canaveral. later, a similar such effort was undertaken for nASA's Goddard Space
Flight center to provide lightning protection for a string
of unmanned satellite tracking stations around the world.
the threat posed by lightning to increasingly sensitive
computerized control equipment was also recognized in
the aircraft industry. the lab once received an Air Force
contract for the study of lightning surges in the wiring of
aircraft. to facilitate this, an actual wing from an Air Force
fighter jet was installed in one of the Building 9 test areas to allow for a lengthy series of surge measurements
when the wing itself was subjected to artificial lightning
discharges. doubtless, all air travelers today unknowingly
benefit from what was learned as a result of this project.
destructive surges also can occur in high-voltage power systems simply as the result of normal switching operations, rather than from lightning strikes. the lab was once
engaged to investigate such damaging surges that had been
occurring in power systems feeding electric arc furnaces
used in the steel industry to melt scrap metal and refine it
into usable steel. thus, these fire-breathing behemoths are
actually gigantic recycling machines and, without them,
our landscape would be overwhelmed with scrap automobiles. the large transformers used to power these beasts
once were built in the Pittsfield Ge plant, which accounted for the interest in this power system problem.
that plant, of course, is now gone, and Building 9 is
nearly so. the impulse generators and other high-voltage
testing equipment were scrapped years ago. Possibly all
that will ultimately remain of Building 9 will be a set of
aluminum letters that once graced the Art deco-style
main entrance. these have been given to the Schenectady Museum, which possesses a large collection of Ge
historical artifacts.
hopefully, the museum (now known as the Museum of Innovation and Science) will find a way to
display these letters, which proclaim "hIGh voltAGe lABoRAtoRy."
p&e



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2014

IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2014 - Cover1
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2014 - Cover2
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2014 - 1
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IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2014 - Cover3
IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - May/June 2014 - Cover4
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