You walk across the carpet, reach for the light switch and……….ZAP!! You get a shock. That’s static electricity alright, but in industrial manufacturing environments, it’s a little bit more complicated.
By definition, static electricity is an electrical charge at rest caused by an imbalance of electrons. The imbalance of electrons occurs when two surfaces are brought into close intimate contact and are then separated. If you remember in science class, all elements in nature are trying to maintain equilibrium or balance. So in the example above, when your feet are in contact with the carpet, there is an alignment of electrons as each surface tries to balance with the other. When the surfaces are separated, an exchange of electrons takes place, leaving one surface with an overabundance of electrons, or is negatively charged, while the other surface has a deficiency of electrons and is positively charged.