The Four Pillars of Protection You Need Against EMP/HEMP Damage in Ep. 24

4 Pillars of HEMP EMP Protection Transtector PolyPhaser Podcast Part 1 Post

We’re talking high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP) on this week’s episode 24 of Spirit: Behind the Screen. HEMP is a particularly devastating type of electromagnetic pulse (EMP) caused by a nuclear detonation above the Earth’s atmosphere. Dan Rebeck, HEMP/EMP product expert with Infinite Electronics, explains this generates 3 EMP waves: a “triple whammy” that can damage electronic systems in our power grid, data networks, communications, and critical infrastructure.

HEMP/EMP Solutions Consider Your Whole System

HEMP events aren’t the only type of EMP capable of damaging electronics. Natural EMP events like lightning or solar flares or other man-caused events like local sabotage could also compromise sensitive electronics.

You might picture electronics being fried by a lightning zap, but minor damage from an EMP can also compromise an electronic system’s reliability over time. You may not notice minor damage until later when a system fails.

But Dan doesn’t leave us with a doomsday scenario. Infinite brands Transtector and PolyPhaser offer products that you can implement as system-level protections against HEMP and EMP to meet government recommendations. Dan breaks these product categories down to the Four Pillars of Hardening.

How you use the Four Pillars will depend on the electronics you need to protect from EMP/HEMP, how critical your systems are, and what kind of outage risk you can tolerate. Personalized solutions can protect everything from our nuclear codes to residential homes.

HEMP EMP Pillars of Protection Surge Filtering Shielding Grounding

Grounding

Grounding offers a connection to the Earth, allowing a surge of electromagnetic energy to drain out to the ground. The best example of this is lightning, which is electromagnetic energy that moves through a system looking for a connection to the ground. Grounding directs the energy to the Earth ground and away from sensitive electronics connected to a network through power or data lines.

Surge Protection

Surge protection, according to Dan, is the most important pillar of the four. A surge protector is a neutral part of an electronic system during day-to-day operations. But when it detects a high voltage greater than what the system can handle, it kicks into action. The surge protector opens a low-impedance path that connects to the Earth ground. This path diverts the high voltage to the ground, protecting electronics connected downstream in the system.

Filtering

“Filtering changes the wave shape of the pulse coming into your facility,” says Dan. “It can slow the EMP down a little bit and can give your surge protector a chance to take more of it away from the system.” Filtering doesn’t stop the EMP. It disrupts it to weaken the EMP to make it possible for your other protection measures to handle the wave.

Shielding

In theory, you could build a full shield to stop an EMP from entering an electronic system. But most of our systems need outside connections to power and data to function. Our electronics need to receive and communicate data in order to operate.

Shielding a building or system to protect against EMP must be used in tandem with the other pillars to be effective. Transtector and PolyPhaser offer surge protection that can be mounted to a shield for higher protection needs. Shielded boxes and cabinets can also provide protection to strategic parts of your system.

HEMP/EMP Protection that Works for Your Application

These Four Pillars can work together to harden your system against damage from a HEMP/EMP event. The exact products you need to put in place around your electronics depends on your applications, how critical your operations are, and how much downtime you can tolerate.

Spirit is an authorized reseller of Transtector and PolyPhaser products, and we can work with you to design a hardened solution to protect your electronics from HEMP and EMP.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of our podcast interview with Dan Rebeck publishing September 20. In the meantime, you can hear all about HEMP and EMP in Part 1.

Ep. 23: Which Electrical Tests Do I Need for My Component?

Electrical Test Behind the Screen Podcast

Spirit’s Sean Macdonald is chatting with Marti this week on our Spirit: Behind the Screen podcast about how to determine the electrical testing and ranges you need to run a successful component test program.

Tailor Electrical Tests to Application Requirements

Product applications in aerospace and defense run the gamut from a missile performing for mere seconds to a satellite surviving in low earth orbit for 5 years. The test and qualification needs for parts on these applications vary wildly. That’s why Spirit’s testing services start with an in-depth discussion around what your application is and in which conditions you need your components to perform.

Sean talks about two approaches: the data sheet vs the source control drawing. You may be working from a source control drawing that details tests and ranges you’ve been measuring for years. Or you may be working from a product’s data sheet that offers performance specs, but you need to know if the product can truly perform at the extremes.

“We can screen to that type of depth within each component, but in a lot of cases that tends to be overkill,” says Sean. “It’s a lot more cost and effort and time than what might be required. So our preference is to really engage with the customer and understand exactly what is your mission.”

Understanding Requirements to Drive Efficiency

When working to specs and standards, there can be an “it’s always been done this way” mentality. If your electrical test parameters are chosen just because your workflow has always run that way, you may be running more tests than needed for your specific application.

With the right testing partner, you can find ways to tease out electrical performance in the exact range that you need to eliminate extra cost and shorten your production schedule. Spirit can even produce a custom data sheet and part number to support your unique test flow.

“We certainly understand the amount of time and engineering support and effort and internal cost for our customers to develop these types of data sheets,” says Sean. “We’ll put the technical data sheets and documentation in place for you. Your procurement team just needs to order this dash part number, and that tells us to perform all of the specified screening.”

More Tips in Episode 23!

Listen in to this week’s episode for more insight on how to streamline electrical testing and give your production schedule and budget a boost. And if you’re interested in working on a custom workflow, you can reach out to Spirit for a quote or check out our full offering of test services.