Static electricity is an imbalance of negative and positive charges within or on the surface of a material. Unlike current electricity – a stream of charged particles moving through an electrical conductor or space – static electricity remains stationary until it can move away using an electrical current or electrical discharge.
Simply put, static is created when two surfaces – at least one of which has a high resistance to electrical current – meet and separate. A separation of positive and negative charges is required to create static.
This usually happens when two materials come into contact and electrons move between them, leaving more positive charge on one material than the other. As they separate, they retain this imbalanced charge and static electricity is created. There are many different ways that static electricity can occur, including:
- Contact Charging – When two objects come into contact with one another
- Separation Charging – When two objects are separated from one another
- Frictional Charging – Two objects rubbed together
- Clash Charging – Two objects colliding with high impact
- Vapour Charging – Static generated in liquid when water is forced through a nozzle
- Rolling Charge – Generated when an object rolls over another object
Different types of static occur across various industries and applications, particularly in manufacturing.
Static electricity can cause many different problems in a workplace, posing a risk to both workers and machinery. Common concerns relating to static include:
- Static electric shocks to people who come into contact with surfaces that are holding static
- Electrostatic breakdown of electrical parts in machinery
- Adhesion of unwanted foreign particles – like dust – to surfaces
Issues like these can be detrimental to a production line, industrial machinery and employees. Failure to adequately address static elimination can – amongst many other things – lead to clogged machine parts, uneven finishes on delicate painting applications and misbehaviour of products as a result of static charge on plastic parts.
Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Under the right conditions, a discharge of static electricity can create a spark, which in turn can trigger an explosion or start a fire. Perhaps the most famous example of the devastating effects of static electricity is the Hindenburg disaster. The huge German airship was destroyed whilst trying to dock, and the widely accepted theory is that a static electrical spark ignited the hydrogen inside the ship.
Many conventional manufacturing processes such as production lines, the dispensing of liquids through nozzles and the stacking of plastic items can provide the right environment for the static charge to build. Dry conditions and the presence of fuel and oxygen around these static build-ups give the static charge enough ignition energy to start a fire.
Dangerous processes that invite fire risk from static build-up can go unnoticed for years, but it only takes one spark to start a fire. That’s why it is essential always to have static elimination equipment to mitigate these risks.
Static electricity can be eliminated by using anti static equipment like our Ioniser-Pro Static Bars. An electrical field is generated from the bar, breaking down air molecules into positive and negative ions in the surrounding area. Any imbalanced charge that passes near the bar will attract the necessary ions needed to neutralise the material, eliminating the static electricity.
Static elimination bars can be placed near hotspots where static is generated to combat problem areas and ensure the safety of the equipment and those working close by. For fast flooding of larger areas, Ioniser-Pro Blow can be used in conjunction with a static elimination bar to mitigate risks in bigger spaces.
Ioniser-Pro anti static bars are designed to be compact and easily mountable. Their design allows you to access static in tight spaces, and supporting products are available to adapt the bar to suit your needs.