Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Today is Static Electricity Day

09 January is Static Electricity Day.

Static electricity is generally considered to form when two insulators are rubbed together, generating a static field of imbalanced positive and negatively charged ions. When these charged insulators come into contact with a conductor at a different potential, usually ‘earth’ or ‘ground’  the charge is released. This is why, for example, you get shocked when you grab a door-handle after crossing a room in wool socks.

The general description isn’t really correct or accurate, since even conductors can build up a static charge under the right conditions. A stream of water, or liquid mercury, can build up a charge if the flow breaks into droplets rather remaining continuous for its whole length. This can cause a discharge from the nozzle the flow is coming from.

I’ve always toyed with the idea of building a nice little Van de Graff generator, but can never really lay hands on all the bits.

Fairly Large Van de Graaf Generator

Fairly Large Van de Graaf Generator

And I did once get the chance to service a really old one, operating at around one million volts.

It had been part of a medical X-Ray generator used to treat cancer, but had been repurposed to take X-Ray images of metal castings.

The generator was not very large, only about 2 m x 1 m, but lived inside a pressurised steel container charge with sulphur hexafluoride gas to insulate it.

It fed and X-Ray generator housed in a room with 10 tonnes of lead door, walls lined with emergency stops and entry interlocks to ensure it could not be powered if anyone was in the room, PLUS a concrete maze which you had to run into and hide from the X-Rays if it was ever somehow turned on while you were in the room.

Maybe I should start smaller.


09/01/2019 - Posted by | Civilian |

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