What Causes Static Electricity?

We’ve all been shocked before. And no, I’m not talking about the feeling we all here in Cincinnati felt when the Cincinnati Bengals finally fired Marvin Lewis… I’m referring to the discharge you’ve likely felt on a cold winter day after walking across a carpeted surface and touching a door knob. This electrostatic discharge is a result of static electricity. To understand how this static electricity is generated, let’s first go back to basic chemistry class and talk about the atomic structure of an atom.

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An atom consists of three basic particles: protons, neutrons, and electrons. The protons (positively charged) and neutrons (neutral charge) form the nucleus. Outside of the nucleus, electrons (negatively charged) are quickly zipping around in orbits at specific distances from the nucleus. These electrons are bound to the nucleus due to electromagnetic force. Opposite charges attract, since the protons in the nucleus carry a positive charge this acts on the negative charge of the electrons and keeps them in orbit. The closer the electron to the nucleus, the stronger the bond and the more energy required to break that electron from its original orbit.

When an atom gains or loses an electron, it affects the balance that occurs within an atom. If an atom gains an electron, it now has more electrons than protons. This results in a negatively charged atom. The opposite can be said if an atom loses an electron, it now carries a positive charge. This charge imbalance is where static electricity comes from. Both positive and negative charges will remain static until contacted by or in close proximity to a conductive or grounded surface.

The strength of this charge will depend on a few different factors: the types of materials, surface area, environmental conditions, etc. will all play a role in the generation of a static charge. The triboelectric series is a scale, listing various different materials and their tendency to become positive or negative. Those at the far end of the spectrum have an increased propensity to gain or lose an electron, while those in the center are more likely to remain balanced. When two materials on opposite ends of the spectrum come into contact with one another, it poses the greatest risk of generating high levels of static electricity. The chart below shows some common materials and where they fall on the tribolectric series.

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When materials carry a static charge, a variety of problems can ensue during manufacturing. These can manifest in the form of painful shocks to operators, materials jamming or tearing, sheet feeding problems, discharges causing imperfections in the material appearance, etc. To remove the charge, we need to introduce static eliminating ions to balance it out. EXAIR’s full line of Static Eliminators create an equal number of both positive and negative ions to saturate the surface of the material and neutralize any charge present.

With a wide range of different solutions all available from stock, EXAIR has the solution to your static problems this winter. Give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss the application and help to identify the best method to mitigating any static issues in your processes. Take advantage of EXAIR’s current promotion (now through the end of March) and receive a free AC Sensor with your Static Eliminator purchase!

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD

 

Atom photo courtesy of janjf93 via Pixabay Creative Commons License

Super Ion Air Knife Removes Static from Flour Packaging Process

Static Eliminators
Static Eliminators

Recently I had the pleasure of working on an application with one of our South American distributors, AYRFUL. Their customer is an OEM manufacturer of packaging machines that deals with a variety of different industries in the region. They had a machine in the field operating in Argentina that was posing some issues for a company that processes flour.

Static was building up on the packaging material and was causing flour particles to stick to the outside of the package. If there was any residual flour stuck at the top of the bag after filling, it wouldn’t allow the package to seal properly. This would result in bags of flour that would be improperly sealed, this caused housekeeping issues as some would spill out, but also some of these bags have to be thrown out due to potential contamination.

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They reached out to our distributor who was able to go see the application and confirmed that the static was causing the problem with a Model 7905 Static Meter. The web was 27” wide, making our Model 112030 30” Gen4 Super Ion Air Knife a near perfect fit. By placing the Super Ion Air Knife just prior to the filling operation, we were able to remove the static charge on the material and blow off any residual flour that was still stuck to the outside of the packaging. This immediately mitigated the static on the material and allowed for the packages to seal properly, resulting in a production improvement of almost 20%!!

We’re smack in the middle of winter here in the US with drier air causing an uptick in static problems across a wide variety of industrial processes. With a wide range of Static Eliminator solutions available from stock, EXAIR has the ability to solve your problem QUICKLY!

Get in touch with us via phone, chat, or e-mail and an Application Engineer will be happy to assist you in selecting the most suitable Static Eliminator based on the application.

Tyler Daniel
Application Engineer
E-mail: TylerDaniel@exair.com
Twitter: @EXAIR_TD