Jump to content
Science Forums

Harnassing Static Electricity


Recommended Posts

So it is winter in Virginia, and my family and I are shocking the hell out of ourselves as we walk around the house. Last night I had a thought and actually tested it out. I built up a nice charge and walked over to a lamp with a CFL light bulb. I hovered my hand near the lightbulb and it faintly glowed. This was just from being in proximity to my hand. I then touched the actual tube of the light bulb and it lit up briefly. Anyone but a blind man could see (:shrug:) that there is plenty of energy at work. So my mad scientist mind started to work...

 

Is there a way to harness that static electricity in order to say power some rechargeable batteries? It would save me from some shocks and actually put that energy to good use at the same time.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You may want to take a look at Leyden jars.

They're a sort of antiquated battery that can store a static charge. The term "battery" actually comes from the linkage of more than one leyden jar into a "battery" of jars. I do believe some of our members here have constructed one for demonstration purposes. I would check with Turtle first.:shrug:

Link to post
Share on other sites

You know like 4 years back i had a similar question. I theorized that using plastic as a radiation shield

for the ISS in multi layers, the expantion of the plastic would create static electricity.

(I wish i could remember the link that said plastic would be a good radiation shield :shrug: )

edit:

Although i think capacitors would do the same thing as the leyden jar.then you could trickle charge a battery.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The Leyden jar is the earliest capacitor, and Mercedes is correct that I did discuss plans here someplace to make one. I never got around to that project yet. ;) Mercedes is also right about the term battery referring to a connected bank of Leyden jars and I only add that it was Ben Franklin who did that in experiments and bestowed the term battery.

 

Belove has got the right use of the Leyden jar (or any capacitor) to trickle charge the battery. B)

 

In a practical sense however there is simply not enough 'juice' coming from even the most ambitious rubbing to provide any appreciable power. I do think it could make for an interesting experiment if you have a voltmeter. :naughty: :shrug:

Link to post
Share on other sites

Been exploring this myself, on another forum.Apperently an insulated copper wire, about 200 ft. long, suspended in the air with insulators, will build up one heck of a 'static' electric charge.Easily enough to charge a 12v. battery.Heres what someone had to say; "Any attempts to establish a system like this must be approached with the greatest of respect and caution. Casual and ad-hoc experiments can be extremely dangerous.

 

John Bedini told me of one system he and Ron Cole built in Southern California in the 1980's. It consisted of about 100 feet of copper wire, no more than 10 feet off the ground, suspended on glass insulators (think old Coke bottles). The capacitor was made from two sheets of 4' x 8' sheet metal separated by plate glass. The ground connection was industrial copper grounding rods pounded into the earth. A one inch safety spark-gap applied across the capacitor started roaring within minutes. The system was so dangerous that they dismantled it.

 

Just for clarity, take a look at some rural power poles some day. Every pole has a one eighth inch diameter copper wire running from the ground to the top of the pole. Its there in case a lineman had to go to the top and make repairs. Then, to work on the line, he just had to connect the ground line to the dead power line with a short jumper before attempting his repairs. Since the power was off anyway, the REAL danger was the electrostatic voltage that could still be present."

So, thats a LOT of electricity, 'freely' available, once you expend the $ to set up a system to "harvest" it.Similar to solar or wind, in that sense. Just have to figure out a way to harvest it SAFELY, without frying anyone.This is basically harvesting lightning, in a sense.Heres a suggested way to hook up such a system, to 'batteries', using an auto coil and spark plug.

"If you read the words carefully, the circuit goes like this. Between the elevated wire and the ground is the CAPACITOR. The discharge circuit then consists of (starting at the HV+ side) the spark plug, then the (+) and (-) terminals of a ignition coil (leaving the HV terminal alone), then to the (+) terminal of the battery, and finally the (-) terminal of the battery is connected to the side of the capacitor connected to the ground rod.

 

The ignition coil is just used to slow down the discharge impulse and convert the electrostatic energy into a magnetic field so it supplies the battery with some electrons to aid the charge."

I should pass on there were lots of warnings about how high voltage/high frequency electricity acts different, how some insulators become conductors and how it can jump air gaps, etc.Bottom line; can be dangerous! I am still intriqued with the idea, however. Jim

Link to post
Share on other sites
Last night I saw the static electricity bridge a quarter to half an inch of air gap in a dark room. There is power there...

 

Thought you might enjoy our thread on lightning, as well as this part of it from post #36 on collecting the power from lightning. :Alien: :bdayhappy_balloons:

 

Thread: >> http://hypography.com/forums/earth-science/7839-lightning.html

 

Article: >>- Electric Skies - Thunderstorms and Lightning

FS: Can we make use of lightning in terms of power?

 

EW: If lightning occurred in one place in a predictable manner day in and day out' date=' the harnessing of its energy might be seriously considered. Such is not the case. Lightning does strike twice in the same place, but extremely infrequently. To harness the energy, the lightning must strike an electrode connected to a very robust bank of electrical capacitors. One captured strike would deliver at most 10^8 joules. This would provide enough energy to power one electric hairdryer for about ten hours. So clearly, a large number of captured flashes would be needed to supply the energy needs of just a single household. [/quote']

Link to post
Share on other sites

the reason that the light glob lit for an instant was because you moved a strong static charge which induces a potential difference (voltage) between the wires that where close to the charge and the ones forther away, resulting in electrons flowing through the light bulb. the actual energy for the light in the light bulb came from moving the charged item, not from the charge itself. static electricity is an interesting thing, you can quite easily get a voltage rating in excess of 1,000,000 volts in a van der graaf generator, but the total amount of power that is stored there is pretty small, probably the less then what you would get from a tiny watch battery.

 

It can be extremely powerful if you design it like a capacitor, where you have two sheets with opposite charges. With a strong insulator such as thick glass or a ceramic insulator and very long, thin metal sheets, maybe it will be possible to capture lighting energy ! the main reason that we have wind energy and solar energy and so on but not lightning energy, is because with lightning energy you have to capture extreme voltage and power in a tiny fraction of a second, but that's exactly what capacitors are good for…in theory… They are not exactly like static because they have two opposite charges, so even a few inches away, the two charged will cancel each other out and it should be safe.

 

Anyone have any comments?

Link to post
Share on other sites

So, let's see if I've got this right; Got the copper wire, suspended in the air on insulators. Connects to 1 metal plate.Sheet of glass seperates that plate from another metal plate, which is hooked to grounded copper rod.If I've got that right so far, whats up, exactly, with this 1" air gap? Where is it (in the circuit) and whats the purpose?( In case you can't tell, my knowledge of electricity is negligible, but I'm interested in learning.) Jim

Link to post
Share on other sites

I did a few more tests and was actually able to appreciably light up my CFL even when it was not screwed into any lamp. The energy for that to happen did not come from the wires of the lap, which has been suggested. Obviously we are not going to power a house off of our static electricity, but it would be interesting to see if we could power conventional batteries this way. Every little bit helps when compounded over time.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I did a few more tests and was actually able to appreciably light up my CFL even when it was not screwed into any lamp. The energy for that to happen did not come from the wires of the lap, which has been suggested. Obviously we are not going to power a house off of our static electricity, but it would be interesting to see if we could power conventional batteries this way. Every little bit helps when compounded over time.

 

I am wondering something, can you get the CFL to glow once again when you move the charged plasic away from the CFL? is the answer is yes i think i may have an explanation.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I am wondering something, can you get the CFL to glow once again when you move the charged plasic away from the CFL? is the answer is yes i think i may have an explanation.

 

The only plastic there is the casing that is part of the bulb. Not sure how to remove it safely and I don't want to try given the mercury in the light.

Link to post
Share on other sites
The only plastic there is the casing that is part of the bulb. Not sure how to remove it safely and I don't want to try given the mercury in the light.

 

i re-read your original post and realised that you are talking about static built in your body... and i assume the CFL glows when you touch it, in which case the electricity is coming from your body, i apologise for my mistake :)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Nope, just my hand. Held it by both the base and the plastic casing in one hand, touched the tube with the other. I felt like a diety

 

:bow: :idea: :lol: I hear you can take a fluorescent bulb under high-voltage transmission lines and it lights up. :) If you're gonna try it, do it at night so no one will see you & think you're up to no good. :eek2: :doh:

Link to post
Share on other sites
:bow: :idea: :lol: I hear you can take a fluorescent bulb under high-voltage transmission lines and it lights up. :) If you're gonna try it, do it at night so no one will see you & think you're up to no good. :eek2: :doh:

 

Um... if you do it at night are they not sure to see you? You know, standing there with a light, in the dark...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...