## Understanding Static Electricity

Have you ever walked across the room to pet your cat or dog and got a shock instead? Ever taken off your shirt on a dry winter day and had a “hair raising” experience? How about rubbing a balloon on your shirt and sticking it to the wall? This is static electricity! Before we can understand Static Electricity we need to know the basics of atoms.

All physical objects are made up of atoms. Inside an atom are protons, electrons and neutrons. The protons are positively (+) charged, the electrons are negatively (-) charged, and the neutrons are neutral.

Therefore, all things are made up of charges. Opposite charges attract each other (negative to positive). Like (similar) charges repel each other (positive to positive or negative to negative). Most of the time positive and negative charges are balanced in an object, which makes that object neutral.

Static electricity is the result of an imbalance between negative and positive charges of an object. These charges can build up on the surface of an object until they find a way to be released or discharged.

The rubbing of certain materials against another can transfer negative charges, or electrons. For example, if you drag your sock on the carpet, your body collects extra electrons. The electrons cling to your body until they can be released. As you reach and touch your furry friend, a shock occurs. This is just the surplus electrons being released from you to your unsuspecting pet.

And what about that “hair raising” experience? As you remove your shirt, electrons are transferred from the shirt to your hair, creating the hair raising experience! Remember, objects with the same charge repel each other. Because they have the same charge, your hair will stand on end. Your hair is trying to get as far away from each other as possible!

When you rub a balloon against your shirt and stick it to a wall, you are adding a surplus of electrons (negative charges) to the surface of the balloon. The wall is now more positively charged than the balloon. As the two come in contact, the balloon will stick because of the rule that opposites attract (positive to negative).

When you relate these too your manufacturing environment and we talk about dust, hair, and fines sticking to your product then EXAIR has the answer for you with our GEN 4 Static Eliminating products. EXAIR Static Eliminators (also called ionizers) can eliminate the charge. These shockless ionizers are electronically powered to produce a bulk of positive and negative ions. The charged surface attracts the appropriate number of positive or negative ions from the ionizer to become neutral or balanced.

If you have a situation where static charges are causing problems with a product finish, print quality, sensor readings, etc. and would like some assistance solving the problem please call EXAIR and ask for one of our knowledgeable Application Engineers to discuss the right product for your application.

Eric Kuhnash
Application Engineer
E-mail: EricKuhnash@exair.com