Static Electricity Flow: 13 Facts Most Beginners Don’t Know


This article discusses about static electricity flow. Electricity is simply a flow of electrons.  To move these electrons, a voltage difference is required.

The case is similar to wind blowing. The wind blows due to pressure difference. Likewise electrons flow due to potential difference between the terminals. In this article we shall discuss about static electricity.

What is static electricity?

Static electricity is a phenomenon in which charged particles move from one place to another when two bodies are rubbed against each other.

A very common example of static current is rubbing of a ruler with a smooth surface and then keeping it near hair. We can see that our hair get attracted to the ruler. In winters when the weather is dry, we feel a current passing through our body when we touch a metal object or somebody’s hand. Static electricity occurs when like charges accumulate at one place.

Does static electricity flow?

Yes, static electricity can flow from one object to another. When these charges find a medium to balance each other, a static discharge occurs.

This can happen even in the best insulators if the charge magnitude is high. These charges flow jump from one place to another until the system has equal amount of charges. The static electricity can flow even through glass, plastic etc.

Why does static electricity flow?

Static electricity flows when the charges find a medium to balance each other. The static charge occurs when like charges accumulate at one place.

This type of electricity occurs when the opposite charges are separated by an insulating medium. When the magnitude is high, the forces of attraction become so high that these charges will move even through an insulating medium. When these charges move through air, a visible spark can be observed.

How does static electricity flow?

As discussed in above sections, static charge forms when two opposite charges are separated by an insulating medium.

When this insulating medium is removed or when the magnitude of force of attraction becomes very high then the charges will jump from one place to another to balance out the charges and maintain the charge neutrality. This way a static discharge will take place.

When does static electricity flow?

When the insulating medium is removed or when the magnitude of force of attraction becomes very high, the charges will jump from one place to go to another.

This way movement of charges will take place creating a static discharge. The static electricity can flow even through air if the magnitude of force of attraction is very high. In everyday lives, we must have felt electric spark when we touch another person. This is due to rubbing action between the feet and the floor.

What happens when static electricity flows?

A static charge is developed when electrons build up in an area. These can happen when two insulators are rubbed against each other and the air is dry.

When another body which lacks electrons touches this charged body, the flow of electrons take place and a static discharge is observed. When humans touch each other they feel the electric discharge.

static electricity flow
Image: Effect of static electricity

Image credits: Chris Darling from Portland, USA, Static on the playground (48616367)CC BY 2.0

Does static electricity flow through a circuit?

The static electricity does not flow in the same way as conventional electricity does. Although the static electricity can flow through the same wire that carry conventional electric current.

The static electricity can damage the circuit if a static discharge takes place in the circuit. Various electronic components may overload and fail if a static discharge takes place in its working condition. When the magnitude of static discharge is high it can lead to severe outcomes.

Does static electricity flow in the same direction?

The static electricity flows in a direction from a region of high electrons to a region of low electrons.

It is not possible for the discharge to flow from a low region of electrons to a region where excess electrons are present. The static electricity can flow in opposite direction only when the number of electrons are arranged in an opposite manner.

Does static electricity flow in the same direction?

The direction in which static electricity flows is discussed in the above section. So we can conclude that it can flow in opposite direction only if the number of electrons are arranged in an opposite fashion.

The above statement means that a static current flowing from A to B can flow in opposite direction only if the electrons at B are more than electrons at A. This way the static electricity can flow in opposite direction as well.

Do static electricity flow anywhere?

No the static electricity cannot flow anywhere. It needs a buildup of charges in an insulating body. These electrons are built up when it is rubbed with another insulator in the present of dry air.

When another insulator having no charge comes in contact with this charged body, the static discharge will take place. The static electricity cannot flow unless the object touches another body.

Does static electricity flow through plastic?

The static electricity flows through insulators. When the insulator is rubbed against another insulator in the presence of dry air like charges repel each other and thus accumulates a large number of electrons in one place.

When this charged insulator touches another insulator, the static discharge takes place. This can be observed in plastics as well. A well known example is that of a plastic ruler. When it is rubbed against a shiny surface and then placed near our hand, the hair on our hand start getting attracted to the ruler. This is an example of static electricity.

Can static electricity flow through air?

The static electricity flows through insulating mediums. The electrons can jump off these insulators when the magnitude of charge at one place gets high.

This happens because of excessive number of electrons being accumulated at one place. These electrons jump through air creating a static discharge.

Does static electricity create sparks?

The static electricity can create sparks when the magnitude of discharge is slightly higher than the normal value.

This is very normal and it can be observed during winters when the air is dry. The body gets charged up when the feet is rubbed against the floor. When it touches another body, a static discharge flows and sometimes even spark can be observed if the discharge is slightly high.

Conclusion

In this article we discussed about various facts about static electricity. We busted various myths about static electricity as well. If anything, it can cause fatal damages to electronic systems. Their failure can even lead to death of people. It is always suggested to make proper grounding so that the static discharge can be nullified.

Abhishek

I, Abhishek Khambhata, have pursued Btech in Mechanical Engineering. Throughout four years of my engineering, I have designed and flown unmanned aerial vehicles. My forte is fluid mechanics and thermal engineering. My fourth year project was based on performance enhancement of unmanned aerial vehicles using solar technology. I would like to connect with like minded people.

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