‘Static Electricity’ is a Build-up of Electrons?

The conventional view is that static electricity is created through charge separation which means that there is always equal quantities of positive and negative ‘particles’. To create a build-up of electrons you would also create a build-up of protons, so… “You’ve not caused a ‘buildup’, you’ve caused an imbalance, an un-cancelling, a separation” (William Beaty).

Though in a Van Der Graph generator charge is transferred along an insulating belt to a metal dome. The noticeable static charge wholly depends on the air’s insulating ability. On a cool dry day the air acts as a good insulator and a significant charge may build up on the dome. Introducing a conductor such as an earth’d rod causes a large static spark as the charge is dissipated. On a warmer, more humid day the static charge dissipates quickly into the air resulting in much more feeble spark. Either way the charge MUST be balanced. 99% of our experience of static electricity are momentary imbalances of charge created through the insulation properties of dry air. As the cooler condensing winter air holds less moisture it is normally insulating, thus most static effects are experienced  in winter.

While it may be argued that a Van Der Graph generator separates charge to create an imbalance, the charged dome clearly does not have an EQUAL and opposite area of imbalance. Though any charge WILL be equalised.


About Rob W Harrison
There is a part of my mind that stubbornly thinks about science. I have a life, job, wife and family but without my Van Der Graaf Generator life would be incomplete. I am a great believer that this amazing universe came into being through process: movement >pressure > density > mass. Maybe I believe in an non viscous ether. Anyway this is where I can share my thoughts.

3 Responses to ‘Static Electricity’ is a Build-up of Electrons?

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