19 Uses Of Static Electricity: Detailed Explanations


In this article, detailed explanations of several uses of static electricity in our daily life are provided.

Some of the uses of static electricity that we often encounter are:

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Electrostatic precipitators

Electrostatic precipitators are the devices used in several factories and industries as a means of pollution control. The dust, smoke and other particulate matter that are emitted from the factories are given a static charge and they get attracted to the electrodes of opposite charge, thereby preventing the hazardous emission to the atmosphere.

Paint spraying

Certain industries use the principle of static electricity in the process of paint spraying, for example, automobile industries for painting cars. The paint is given a charge and the object to be painted is grounded. By static electricity, charged object clings to uncharged objects and hence smooth finish of painted objects are obtained.

Crop spraying

Crop spraying is done by farmers and the principle behind is static electricity. The fertilizer or the pesticide to be sprayed on crops is given the same charge due to which they repel each other and form a large cloud increasing the coverage of spraying. Similarly, the charged drops get attracted to the uncharged crops.

Air fresheners

Air fresheners to purify the air are used in homes, hospitals as well as office settings. The dust and other harmful particles get attracted to the plates inside the freshener as they are oppositely charged. Thus, the air coming out of it will be pure.

Photocopiers

Photocopier that prepares a copy of the text document or an image instantly and easily works using the principle of static electricity. The toner, a fine powder is given a charge opposite to that of the copy paper. And hence finally we get the desired copy.

Van de Graaff generator

Van de Graaff generators use the principle of static electricity as these devices build up high voltages by accumulating charges. This apparatus perfectly demonstrates static electricity.

Xerography

The electrostatic process used by several copy machines for making copies is known as xerography. It is a dry copying technique as the name suggests – In Greek, xeros means dry and graphos means writing.

Laser printers

Laser printers works in a similar mechanism as a xerographic process but the only difference lies in using a laser beam to produce images.

Inkjet printers

Computer-generated graphics or pictures are commonly printed using ink-jet printers. These devices work using static electricity principle where the ink droplets are given a charge and are then directed to a paper to form text and images of the original one.

Fabric softener sheets

In a dryer, when the clothes dry together, static charges develop as they rub together. Fabric softener sheets prevent the accumulation of charges and hence static electricity.

Fabric Softener Sheet
Image Credits: Flickr

Piezo-electric ignitors

Piezo-electric ignitors used in barbeque, heaters, etc creates spark to ignite the fuel. A strong force applied generates an electric spark of several volts.

Static clings for window art

Static window clings deploy static electricity to stick to the window screens. It works in a similar way as the objects cling to clothes or mirrors.

Police Tasers

Tasers are a type of gun, mostly used by police personnel and other security forces, which cause disturbances without imparting any injury to the people involved. Tasers develop an electric charge that has high voltage and low amperage, which disrupts nerve cells.

Tasers Used By Police
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Electric fences

Electric fences are barriers made to prevent the entry of humans or other animals. The shock experienced when anyone touches an electric fence is similar to the electrostatic discharge.

Aircraft static control

Static wicks are installed on an aircraft to safely prevent the accumulation of charges or static electricity during the flight.

Cyclotron and other particle accelerators

In cyclotrons and other particle accelerators, the static field is used to accelerate protons or electrons.

Electret microphones

Electret microphones are designed in such a way that it can capture sounds from all the directions. Electret is a dielectric material and has a permanent static charge.

Electron microscopes

The electrostatic control and deflection of electron beams in electron microscopes determine where the electrons strike.

Cathode Ray Tubes in TVs

Cathode ray tubes in old TVs uses a high voltage on a thin film inside the screen and this develops a static electricity on the outside.

Oscilloscopes

Proper grounding is made in oscilloscopes to prevent the static charge build up which can damage the device.

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Uses of static electricity in paint sprayers

Paint spraying using static electricity is commonly deployed by automobile industries to paint cars.

Paint Sprayer
Image Credits: Flickr

The nozzle of the spray gun is charged positively and hence the paint particles become positively charged. As the paint is sprayed, the paint particles form a mist as they repel each other due to the similar charge. The car to be painted is grounded and the charged paint particles stick to the car surface. Once the paint is dry, the paint sticks much better and a smooth finish will be obtained.

Painting methods that use static electricity reduces the problems of uneven coverage and overspray from a normal spray gun.

Uses of static electricity in industry

In industries, static electricity is used as a means to control pollution. Such devices used as air filters are known as electrostatic precipitators.

The pollutants emitted out of a smokestack is controlled by electrostatic precipitators. The particles like dust, smoke or any other harmful items are given a charge. These particles stick to the electrode plates that are oppositely charged and the emerging air is devoid of harmful pollutants. Thus static electricity purifies the emission from the factories.

Uses of static electricity in dust removal

Dust removal systems make use of static electricity by charging the dust particles through electrostatic induction. The dust is initially charged by polarization, and then it floats due to the Coulomb force of a DC electric field. The AC electric field generates a Coulomb force due to which particles can be easily transported and they can be easily collected.

Uses of static electricity in air fresheners

Several hospitals, offices and household settings use air fresheners to purify the air. These air fresheners function using the principle of static electricity.

The dust and smoke particles in the air that are initially neutral are made to pass through certain wires or poles. As a result, these particles develop charge, either positive or negative, depending upon the device used. These charged dust particles get attracted to an oppositely charged plate present in the device and hence the air leaving the air freshener will be free from the harmful particulate matter.

The above mechanism of purifying the air is similar to that of the functioning of electrostatic precipitators used in factories.

Use of static electricity in inkjet printers

Inkjet printers are commonly used to make copies of computer-generated graphics or texts. These printers work using principles of electrostatics.

An ink nozzle present in the printers makes a fine spray of tiny ink droplets. These are given electrostatic charge. There is a pair of charged plates using which the ink droplets are directed towards the paper to form texts and images. The charged plates are given voltages using computer. The color prints on paper are obtained using four colours, black jet and other three primary colors’ jet – cyan, majenta and yellow.

Inkjet printers are commonly found in homes and small offices.

Deeksha Dinesh

Hello, I am Deeksha Dinesh, currently pursuing post-graduation in Physics with a specialization in the field of Astrophysics. I like to deliver concepts in a simpler way for the readers.

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