• Kaustubh

MemberNov 22, 2008

## Static Electricity: Practical Uses in Daily Life

In this article, we will explain the concept of static electricity in easy to understand language. We will then look at five examples of practical uses of static electricity. Let’s get started.

Sure, I'd be happy to explain.

## Basics of Static Electricity

Static electricity refers to an imbalance of electric charges within or on the surface of a material.

The charge remains until it is able to move away by means of an electric current or electrical discharge.

Everything we see is made up of tiny particles called atoms.

The atoms themselves are made up of three kinds of smaller particles: protons, which carry a positive charge, neutrons, which carry no charge, and electrons, which carry a negative charge.

Usually, an atom has an equal number of protons and electrons, and thus has a neutral charge.

However, when two different materials come into contact and then separate, one of the materials may have a stronger pull on the shared electrons.

As a result, one object gains extra electrons and becomes negatively charged, while the other material loses electrons and becomes positively charged.

The resulting imbalance of charges is what we call static electricity.

Static electricity can often be seen when there's low humidity, allowing for a static charge to build up.

You might notice this when you remove clothes from the dryer and they cling together, or if you comb your hair and it causes your hair to stand on end.

## Top 5 Practical Uses of Static Electricity

### 1. Photocopiers and Laser Printers:

These devices work on the principle of static electricity. An image of the document is projected onto a positively charged drum, which causes the exposed areas to lose their charge.

Negatively charged toner particles are then attracted to the positively charged areas left on the drum to form an image. The image is transferred to paper and then heated to permanently affix the toner to the paper.

### 2. Air Purifiers:

Some air purifiers use static electricity to remove pollutants from the air.

These purifiers create a static charge to particles in the air, causing them to be attracted to a plate inside the purifier with the opposite charge.

### 3. Powder Coating:

Powder coating is a type of coating that is applied as a free-flowing, dry powder.

The main difference between a conventional liquid paint and a powder coating is that the powder coating does not require a solvent to keep the binder and filler parts in a liquid suspension form.

The coating is typically applied `electrostatically` and is then cured under heat to allow it to flow and form a "skin".

### 4. Car Painting:

Similar to powder coating, the automotive industry uses static electricity to apply paint to cars.

The body of the car is given a charge, and the paint is given the opposite charge.

This causes the paint to be attracted to the car body, ensuring an even coat and reducing waste.

### 5. Static Cling Applications:

Some types of plastics are designed to be "clingy" due to static electricity.

This is especially useful in kitchen plastic wrap and plastic bags which cling to themselves and other items, making it easier to cover food or contain items.

## Hazards of Static Electricity

Although static electricity has numerous useful applications, it can also create hazards in certain situations. Here are some key examples:

### 1. Fire and Explosion Hazards:

In many industrial processes, the build-up of static electricity can lead to fire and explosion hazards.

This is particularly concerning in industries involving flammable substances such as petroleum, chemicals, and explosives.

Here, a static spark could ignite a flammable mixture, causing a fire or explosion.

This risk is especially high in environments where the air is heavy with flammable dust or gas. Proper grounding and other safety precautions are critical to prevent these incidents.

### 2. Damage to Electronics:

Static electricity can cause serious damage to sensitive electronic components, a phenomenon known as electrostatic discharge (ESD).

This is why many electronic devices are packed and handled with anti-static materials.

Workers who handle these components often wear anti-static wrist straps to prevent a build-up of static charge that could damage the devices.

### 3. Health Risks:

On a personal level, static electricity can pose certain health risks, albeit generally minor ones.

The unexpected discharge of static electricity can cause a mild to moderately painful shock. In very dry environments, it's possible to build up enough of a charge to create sparks several centimeters long.

While typically not harmful, these shocks can be surprising and unpleasant.

### 4. Interference with Medical Devices:

There's also some evidence that static electricity can interfere with certain medical devices, such as pacemakers.

It's generally advisable for people with such devices to avoid environments where static electricity is likely to build up.

### 5. Discomfort and Annoyance:

More generally, static electricity can cause a number of minor annoyances and discomforts. It can make your hair stand on end or cause clothes to stick together or to your body.

Static electricity can also cause materials to attract dust, which is why television and computer screens often need to be wiped clean.

While these hazards are real, it's important to remember that proper safety procedures can greatly reduce the risks associated with static electricity.

For example, industries that work with flammable substances are required to use various static control procedures, such as grounding and the use of anti-static materials, to reduce the risk of static sparks igniting a fire or explosion.

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Replies
• MemberNov 23, 2008

well,tat can be done,but the cost can be very high
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sauravgoswami
well,tat can be done,but the cost can be very high
What's the idea?
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• MemberNov 23, 2008

I am guessing you are refering to creating a static electricity generator as trying to harness the ambient static electrical charge would result in a gathered charge too weak to do much of anything at to high a cost to be practical. Static electricity contains almost no amps, thus being very ineffiecent. Lightning, being a very high powered form of static electricity, is very random and would be tough to harness. A capacitor is basically a storage medium for a static charge. People have built generators using sulfur & amber in the 17th century. People currently have made clothing or suits that generate a static charge and store in a battery. There is even a cell phone charger that works on the static or piezoelectric effect. To mechanically create a static generator would be much more inefficient than current generation.
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• MemberNov 23, 2008

well to make it use for low-voltage application is possible....but we have to find a consistent source to generate statis electricity...
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• MemberNov 24, 2008

Static electricity is very diff to store........a large capacitor wud be req to store any considerable amount of charge necess to supply current to anythng...........i guess using static electricity was rejected cuz it was diff to produce in large amounts................
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• MemberJan 11, 2009

Good thought.... any body came across storing it.

I find a lot of static charge being produced in my office. Any ways to utilize it... dont know... waht are your findings
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• MemberAug 29, 2010

Never thought about this. Seems to be interesting. I would love to see people storm their brains here.
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• MemberAug 31, 2010

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• MemberAug 18, 2011

It would seem that an important move in the dirrection of providing energy solutions is using less of it. I don't know just how much effort is aimed in that dirrection, the EI's may. A guy from oxford said that he had done some experimentation with a power cube containing solar cells and a halogen lamp. The object was to produce more energy than was being used. I don't know the results there. If a low energy or "free" source was the 'progenitor' ... ??
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• MemberAug 18, 2011

I have tried it many times and it is very simple too. Acually all of must have tried it. Whenever a battery discharges, try rubbing it with a cloth with high speed. You will find that it will be charged again.

My idea is to build a reciprocating device which will rub a battery against a silk cloth. I have still not experimentally measured the amount of energy getting stored during such a process.

Moreover, it would be an interesting exercise to see if we can rubbing both sides we can produce large static energy or is it that only rubbing single side is sufficient?
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• MemberAug 18, 2011

Ishu,
What kind of battery, rechargeable or the primary cell?
As far as I know batteries that work on chemical energy - electrical energy conversion cannot be charged with static. Are you sure that you are not just removing some invisible non conducting film from the terminals? Device manufacturers do advice cleaning the surface with a lint free cloth.
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• MemberAug 18, 2011

as per my knowledge we can use this to attract substances by creating high amount of static electricity
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• MemberAug 18, 2011

ishutopre
I have tried it many times and it is very simple too. Acually all of must have tried it. Whenever a battery discharges, try rubbing it with a cloth with high speed. You will find that it will be charged again.

My idea is to build a reciprocating device which will rub a battery against a silk cloth. I have still not experimentally measured the amount of energy getting stored during such a process.

Moreover, it would be an interesting exercise to see if we can rubbing both sides we can produce large static energy or is it that only rubbing single side is sufficient?
Nice.. Convectional DC generators are going to be outdated in future! 😁
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• MemberAug 18, 2011

well.... i guess static electricity can't be harnessed unless its dynamic...yet it can be stored
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• MemberAug 18, 2011

bioramani
Ishu,
What kind of battery, rechargeable or the primary cell?
As far as I know batteries that work on chemical energy - electrical energy conversion cannot be charged with static. Are you sure that you are not just removing some invisible non conducting film from the terminals? Device manufacturers do advice cleaning the surface with a lint free cloth.
Ramani Sir,
I am talking of a primary cell. May be you will find it strange but I have tried rubbing simple Eveready battery on a cloth and they can be used for sometime. I think, we can charge them if we can induce static electricity, I have observed the fact with two different cells. The cell which I rubbed more worked more than the one which I rubbed less.

I believe there is a mathematical relation in rubbing of electrical batteries and static charge induced. Forgive me but I do not agree with you that electrical batteries cannot be charged with static as I am seeing results with my eyes.

An I am aware of the fact that manufacturers advice. And no, I am not removing any coating.

Is there any other explanation for the phenomenon? May be I should devise a method to calculate the amount of power which the cell provides after rubbing. A simple electrical circuit would do. I will try exactly and tell you. 😀
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• MemberAug 18, 2011

In static electricity we are looking at charge separation. This is achieved usually by rubbing materials like hair, wool and such against rubber, plastics and such. One of the rubbed material gets a + charge while the other gets an exactly equal amount of - charge. A battery is a device that generates charges by chemical reaction. A battery is a low voltage device. Other than that whether there is nothing static about static electricity. In a capacitor electricity is stored as separated charges just like static charge. A capacitor can be 'charged' with static electricity.A primary cell can never be totally discharged. What happens is that the electrodes can get passivated (polarised) and stop delivering current. The high voltage static charge can depolarise the electrodes and allow a little more power to be drawn. This is what you have probably achieved.
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• MemberAug 19, 2011

Ramani Sir,

If that is the thing, thanks for the knowledge. I have been doing the same thing. I never realized that I am merely boosting electrodes again. I always thought that I am charging battery again.
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• MemberAug 19, 2011

Ishu,
However, there is some work being done to harness the huge power of static electricity in the atmosphere. All of which is wasted as lightning. Well not all is wasted. It has been estimated that the silent discharge of electricity in the clouds(When the lightning is a glow and not a streak) produces more nitrogen fertilizer(which comes down with rain) than all the fertilizer plants on earth put together!
Here is an interesting motor that runs on static electricity.
<a href="https://www.eskimo.com/~billb/emotor/emotor.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">SODA BOTTLE ELECTROSTATIC MOTOR</a>
However, you can develop your concept further by charging super capacitors with static. That way static energy can be harnessed.
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• MemberAug 20, 2011

Issue
Ramani Sir,
I am talking of a primary cell. May be you will find it strange but I have tried rubbing simple Eveready battery on a cloth and they can be used for sometime. I think, we can charge them if we can induce static electricity, I have observed the fact with two different cells. The cell which I rubbed more worked more than the one which I rubbed less.

I believe there is a mathematical relation in rubbing of electrical batteries and static charge induced. Forgive me but I do not agree with you that electrical batteries cannot be charged with static as I am seeing results with my eyes.

An I am aware of the fact that manufacturers advice. And no, I am not removing any coating.

Is there any other explanation for the phenomenon? May be I should devise a method to calculate the amount of power which the cell provides after rubbing. A simple electrical circuit would do. I will try exactly and tell you. 😀

are u sure by rubbing battery to a cloth ur charging the electrodes and not charging the surface of the battery which is just a metal container????...
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• MemberSep 29, 2012

Hello all !

( This was the exact discussion thread i was looking for )

The_Big_K
Any ideas on how can we convert it into useful form of energy? ;-)
sauravgoswami
well,tat can be done,but the cost can be very high
could you enlighten me Saurav sir on how it can be done , keeping the cost factor at bay for the time being .

sauravgoswami
well to make it use for low-voltage application is possible....but we have to find a consistent source to generate statis electricity...
imagine we have a body that is continuously being charged with static electricity for , lets say a few hours .
how do we
1. store this electricity (for future use)
2. use it straight away to run electrical devices or instruments .

waiting eagerly for the reply !
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• MemberSep 29, 2012

They had used in one of the aeroplane of USA.
The red carpet on flooring would get charged due to walking of passengers and this charge was stored.(saw on discovery long back).
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• MemberSep 30, 2012

the van de-graff generator is an application.
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• MemberOct 3, 2012

I think the Capacitive touch screens that We use in mobile phones and various other touch screen devices also use this static electric charges.
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• MemberNov 26, 2012

I'm getting tired of the electric companies, and I'm convinced this can be done with todays technology. I've been out of the electronic field for a long time, but I'm convinced that with the advent of nano tech a component and a device can be made to pull ambient earth atmospheric electricity to power homes. What is needed to be experimented is a micro or nano device that has a whole bunch of micro or nano antenna's the hight and width and type of material is what is not known. we feed those micro or nano antennna into a charge capturing device that can then transform the the power in to the desired voltage, here in america 120 AC. Here's a few links to get people thinking about it.

I will continue to research as time permits, let me know what you thing about the possibilities, also I've been looking for some off the shelf anti-static electronic circuit components, does that exist?
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• MemberNov 26, 2012

Travis
I will continue to research as time permits, let me know what you thing about the possibilities, also I've been looking for some off the shelf anti-static electronic circuit components, does that exist?
Anti Static circuits use seperate protective gears and that is what which makes them anti Static and other than that most of the existing and operable circuits and drives have a great draw back due to static electric potential
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• MemberNov 26, 2012

I think below link will explain why static energy cant used for power production and where it is used practically.

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• MemberFeb 2, 2013

The_Big_K
CEans,

Static electricity is everywhere around us. Its there in your shirts, combs, hair, chair, table ...

Any ideas on how can we convert it into useful form of energy? ;-)

[PS: You see, finding interesting ideas is easy. You got to have your eyes and ears open.]
i have an idea of developing static electricity for household electricity uses joing with help of wireless electricity transmmissions... but i need a guide to clarify my doughts
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• MemberFeb 2, 2013

sreeram v
i have an idea of developing static electricity for household electricity uses joing with help of wireless electricity transmmissions... but i need a guide to clarify my doughts
That's a pretty deadly combination. Static electricity + wireless transmission. I would be surprised if you even get 0.00000000000000001 uA at the output.

Static electricity, despite having a high voltage, is not capable of producing any significant amount of current.
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• MemberApr 29, 2014

What if we strapped a low cost rechargeable battery onto cats. Let them collect static energy. Then save the charge into a bigger converter.
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• MemberMay 1, 2014

Mate converter efficiency is lower as there are losses in every stage. I would not suggest using converters.

Firstly don't you think that harvesting voltage into a battery is not possible due to the following reason
• To charge a battery you will need to apply more voltage than its operating voltage to charge it
That is If you want to charge a 3V rechargeable battery You must apply a minimum of 3.5V to charge it.

Getting this much potential is not viable in a living organism
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• MemberNov 30, 2014

When you rub battery at high speed on cloth, it doesnt charge the battery because of static electricity but because the chemicals inside the battery get some movement.
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• MemberDec 2, 2014

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• MemberDec 2, 2014

VDG generators are efficient in maintaining very high voltages. However the current is very small. They have very poor efficiency in converting mechanical energy into electrical energy.
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• MemberDec 2, 2014

Static charges repels the water away from it.If we were able to produce huge static power,we can use it to divert the floods.
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• MemberDec 2, 2014

Ram eda
Static charges repels the water away from it.I
That is the rub. One can produce huge static voltages but negligible power. All the experiments that one sees with water stream bending with a charged balloon or comb works only when the stream is thin and slow moving. Good to show opposite charges attract. It does not work with a full flowing tap.
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• MemberDec 3, 2014

I think we can use a pulse transformer which can step up the flux [electro static charge]. But the sourcing current will be in nano amps.
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• MemberMay 17, 2016

Tesla has patents for a device to collect what he called cosmic energy, basically a capacitor, antenna and high frequency switching circuit. However infrastructure costs needed to generate large amounts of energy apparently out weigh the output. Either that or the energy companies don't want to be put out of business.
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• MemberMay 17, 2016

Kaustubh Katdare
CEans,

Static electricity is everywhere around us. Its there in your shirts, combs, hair, chair, table ...

Any ideas on how can we convert it into useful form of energy? ;-)

[PS: You see, finding interesting ideas is easy. You got to have your eyes and ears open.]
Tesla has patents for a device to collect what he called cosmic energy, basically a capacitor, antenna and high frequency switching circuit. However infrastructure costs needed to generate large amounts of energy apparently out weigh the output. Either that or the energy companies don't want to be put out of business.
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• MemberMay 17, 2016

Tesla has patents for a device to collect what he called cosmic energy, basically a capacitor, antenna and high frequency switching circuit. However infrastructure costs needed to generate large amounts of energy apparently out weigh the output. Either that or the energy companies don't want to be put out of business.
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• MemberJun 22, 2016

Kaustubh Katdare
CEans,

Static electricity is everywhere around us. Its there in your shirts, combs, hair, chair, table ...

Any ideas on how can we convert it into useful form of energy? ;-)

[PS: You see, finding interesting ideas is easy. You got to have your eyes and ears open.]
Electrical energy that has gathered in one place. Most of us know that static builds up when we rub things together, I guess static electricity can't be harnessed unless it’s dynamic.There are many other places where static electricity is incredibly useful from laser printers and photocopiers to pollution busting power plants, static can be really fantastic.
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• MemberDec 30, 2017

My first thought initially is to think that energy can not be created or destroyed only transferred, so really its just a matter of a giant math problem. I would propose that we first figure a way to store the energy ( a capacitor), once we figure out a method to store such low energy charges we then can figure a way to convert that energy to a more useful state ( step-up or step-down transformer, from there we can figure a way to use that energy to power a motor of sorts. I have found that sometimes we have to start at the end of the maze to find our way to the start. we have all this technology which is great but we are so used to this technology that we sometimes forget to think and keep it simple.
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• MemberDec 30, 2017

Yes. There is no free lunch. However, there is a lot of biomechanical and other mechanical energies that get wasted as heat. It is not cheap to convert these into usable power.
Georgia tech did some research on this:
<a href="https://www.electronicsweekly.com/news/research-news/static-electricity-generator-harvest-1mw-2016-01/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Static electricity generator harvests 1mW</a>
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• MemberDec 31, 2017

This may answer a few questions
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• MemberDec 31, 2017

<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harvesting_lightning_energy" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Harvesting Lightning Energy</a>
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• MemberDec 31, 2017

Looks like someone is doing a little bit of the heavy lifting.
<a href="https://landartgenerator.org/blagi/archives/2148" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Atmospheric Electricity Generation: Is this "true energy" the sleeping giant of renewables? — Land Art Generator</a>
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• MemberDec 31, 2017

Rather impractical. Hundreds of tethered balloons thousands of feet up in the atmosphere will be a nightmare for air traffic.
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• MemberJan 1, 2018

A.V.Ramani
Rather impractical. Hundreds of tethered balloons thousands of feet up in the atmosphere will be a nightmare for air traffic.
Just need to figure out how to scale it down.
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• MemberJan 1, 2018

The catch is that one has to go high enough to get enough static voltage difference.
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• MemberJan 1, 2018

A.V.Ramani
The catch is that one has to go high enough to get enough static voltage difference.
I'm just wondering if this is an area, where micro or nano scale surface area technologies may be able to come in to play. Interesting how different types of materials when in proximity of each other create more or less electrical charges. Maybe possible to sap or gradually pull electricity from air maybe Electrical Windmills blades could be replaced with blades that have micro or nano wires sticking out from them so as the winds turns the wind turbine. it also induces or conducts electricity from the air that is passing over the blades? I think airplanes have leads sticking past the wings to release electrical charge?
<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Static_discharger" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Static Discharger</a>
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• MemberJan 1, 2018

<a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triboelectric_effect" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Triboelectric Effect</a>
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• MemberJan 1, 2018

<a href="https://www.feynmanlectures.caltech.edu/II_09.html" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">The Feynman Lectures on Physics Vol. II Ch. 9: Electricity in the Atmosphere</a>
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• MemberJan 30, 2018

Hi, everyone! I have a weird question:
Can we use a capacitor as a grounding to get rid of static electricity? I saw an experiment where one man used capacitor to light up a LED, having charged it with static electricity.
The matter is, I have no access to the actual "grounding" in my apartment but I need to get rid of the malicious static electricity before upgrading PC hardware.
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• MemberJan 30, 2018

Unless one of the electrodes of the capacitor is grounded it cannot be charged.
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• MemberJan 30, 2018

Unless one of the electrodes of the capacitor is grounded it cannot be charged.
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• MemberJan 30, 2018

A.V.Ramani
Unless one of the electrodes of the capacitor is grounded it cannot be charged.
So, is there any alternative way to "emulate" grounding if I have no access to the real grounding?
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• MemberJan 30, 2018

If the plumbing of the house is metallic, that should work as a ground.
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• MemberJan 31, 2018

A.V.Ramani
If the plumbing of the house is metallic, that should work as a ground.
Unfortunately, it's all plastic(. Actually, I thought of a temporary static electricity collector that would keep accumulating static electricity from human body for some time then such device could be subsequently discharged to the real grounding. Could something like Leiden Jar do that?
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• MemberJan 31, 2018

Any metal pole just outside or a metal window sill might work.
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• MemberMar 2, 2018

Mr. Ramani, a room humidifier would do more to reduce or eliminate static charges from building up in your ?apartment? than trying to ground everything. Humidity makes it much harder to strip electrons from surfaces in the first place. And humidifiers are cheap. An ounce of prevention...

To the original thread, static charge could be stored in capacitors. The charge could be discharged though a resistor (a basic RC circuit), which slows the decay of the charge in the capacitor. Now you have something akin to DC, direct current. Its still not very usable, though. This RC circuit acts like a battery that dies quickly.
Use three capacitors. Using a microprocessor to control the timing, charge each capacitor for two time periods then discharge it for one. You could make a pulsating 3 phase signal out of this. Three more capacitors out of phase 180 deg. to the first three would give you a reasonable 3 phase AC signal. This device is similar to a Variable Frequency Drive, VFD. The size of the RC circuits and static generators (van de Graff or Winhurst or?) would determine the output of such a device, but since that high voltage is now AC, that low amperage several people have already pointed to could be stepped up considerably through transformers. High tension power lines are very low amperage at very high voltage which minimizes the effect of transmission line resistance.
One of the first comments was the cost. The engineering problem was/is the cost of the hardware. Modern power generation doesn't have the additional steps of capacitive storage and signal conversion that this static based system would have.
Mr. Tesla, the inventor of poly-phase electricity, was indeed a very smart man.
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• MemberMar 5, 2018

Static electricity is used in pollution control by applying a static charge to dirt particles in the air and then collecting those charged particles on a plate or collector of the opposite electrical charge. <a href="https://www.stiweb.com/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Low Cost Vibration Monitoring Systems, Accelerometers, Proximity Probe & Vibration Transmitters | StiWeb.com</a> and <a href="https://www.stiweb.com/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener noreferrer">Low Cost Vibration Monitoring Systems, Accelerometers, Proximity Probe & Vibration Transmitters | StiWeb.com</a> Such devices are often called electrostatic precipitators.
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• MemberOct 2, 2018

When i worked in a plastic bottle factory i found that the vats of preforms created an unmeasurable amount of static electricity. I found this out when one of our feed vats jammed and i was instructed to stick a broom stick "coated in rubber but not completely" into the vat and unjam the clog when i did i recieved a shock so great that it formed a lightning bolt pattern burn on my leg where it was contacting the hand rail. Would it be possible to convert that energy into useable power ? Possibly to charge the battery operated hand trucks used to move the pallets of preforms. Since the production of static electricity is constant would it be cost effective to create such a charging mechanism

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• MemberOct 2, 2018

Static voltages are high, not power. Not cost effective to harvest.

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