Static Electricity The Laws of Electrical Charges Current Electricity

Static Electricity The Laws of Electrical Charges Current Electricity
Static Electricity
When you get 'shocked', or see a 'spark', you
are experiencing the same electrical effect that
makes lightning. Most objects have the same
number of positive (proton) and negative
(electron) charges. This makes them neutral
(no charge). Static electricity happens when
there is an imbalance of electrons (which have
negative charges).
The Laws of Electrical Charges
Van de Graaff Generators (VDG) build up an
excess of static charge using friction. A rubber
belt rubs a piece of metal and transfers the
charge to a sphere. When you touch the
sphere the charge builds up on you.
Electrical Energy and Voltage
Electrical energy is the energy carried by
charged particles. Voltage is a measure of
how much electrical energy each charged
particle carries. The higher the energy of each
charged particle, the greater the potential
energy. Also called 'potential difference', the
energy delivered by a flow of charged particles
is equal to the voltage times the number of
particles. Voltage units are volts (V), and for
safety purposes, the voltage of most everyday
devices we commonly use is relatively low,
while industries and transmission lines are
relatively high. The simplest way to measure
voltage is with a voltmeter. Some voltmeters
can measure a wide range of voltages. Multimeters should be used with caution, so that
the sensitive needle is not damaged (by
testing a low range with high voltage).
Measuring Voltage with Computers
A voltmeter can also be hooked up to a
computer. Hook-up the red and black lead in
the same way as you would for a voltmeter.
Electrical Safety Actions
-Never handle electrical devices if you are wet
or near water
-Don't use devices that have a frayed or
exposed power cord
-Always unplug an electrical device before
disassembling it
-Don't put anything into an electrical outlet except a proper plug for an electrical device
-Don't overload an electrical circuit, by trying to
operate too many devices at once
-Avoid power lines
-Don't bypass safety precautions when you are
in a hurry
-Pull on the plug, not the wire
-Never remove the third prong from a 3 prong
- Avoid being the target of a lightning strike, by
staying low to the ground (horizon) and away
from trees.
-Moisture is a good conductor of electricity, so
avoid water when working with electricity.
Charge separation occurs, when a charged
object is brought close to a neutral object. The
charged electrons repel the electrons in the
neutral object and the charged object is then
attracted to the protons of the neutral object.
Electrical Discharge is the movement of
charges whenever an imbalance of charges
occurs. The action results in neutralizing the
objects. The over-charged electrons repel the
electrons in the object and the positive protons
attract the charged electrons causing a
discharge or 'miniature lightning bolt'. Certain
animals like an electric eel, can produce
electric shock, to kill or stun prey. They have a
special organ that contains specialized muscle
cells called electroplaques. Each cell
produces a small amount of electricity. When
all the cells work together, a large amount of
electricity is produce and used to help the eel
survive. This type of electricity is like static
electricity, which builds up and then
discharges. It does not flow continuously.
Electrical Safety
Coming in contact with a power transmission
line can be deadly. By touching it, a short
circuit can occur, because the electricity is
trying to find a path to the ground - you can
complete the circuit. Amperage is more
important to consider. 0.001A will likely not be
felt at all, 0.015A to 0.020A will cause a painful
shock and loss of muscle control (which
means you will not be able to let go of the
line). Current as low as 0.1A can be fatal.
When current can flow easily, it is more
dangerous. Insulators (such as wood, rubber
and air) hamper the flow of electricity.
The Danger of Lightning - A lightning strike
can have 30,000A - more than enough to kill
you. Lightning can also do a lot of damage to a
building. Metal lightning rods that are
connected to the ground with a grounding wire
are fixed on the roof of many buildings to
prevent damage to the building during an
electrical storm.
Cells and Batteries
Electrochemical cells produce small amounts
of electricity from chemical reactions within
the cell.
Dry Cells - The electricity-producing cells,
which are referred to as ‘batteries’, are called
dry cells. They are 'dry' because the chemicals
used are in a paste. The chemical reaction in
a cell releases free electrons, which travel
from the negative terminal of the cell, through
the device, which uses the electricity, and
back to the positive terminal of the cell. The
dry cell is made up of two different metals,
called electrodes in an electrolyte. An
electrolyte is a paste or liquid that conducts
electricity because it contains chemicals that
form ions. An ion is an atom or group of atoms
that has become electrically charged through
the loss or gain of electrons from one atom to
another. The electrolyte reacts with the
electrodes, making one electrode positive and
the other negative. These electrodes are
connected to the terminals
Current Electricity
Electrical devices need a steady flow of
electricity. The steady flow of charged particles
is called electrical current. The flow continues
until the energy source is used up, or
Amperes - The rate at which an electrical
current flows is measured in amperes (A). This
flow varies from a fraction of an ampere to
many thousands of amperes, depending on
the device. Conductors are used to allow the
flow of electrical charges from where they are
produced to where they are needed. These
conductors are materials (often wires), which
allow the flow of electrical charges easily.
Circuits - A circuit is a pathway that allows the
flow of electricity. Most electrical circuits use
wires (as conductors), although others may
use gases, other fluids or materials. A circuit
consists of a conductor, an energy source, a
load and often a switch (to control the flow).
Underwriters Laboratory issues labels
to identify the amount of voltage required to
operate electrical devices and the maximum
current they use.
Plugs, Fuses and Breakers
The third prong of a 3 prong plug is a ground
wire, connected to the ground wire of the
building, in case of a short circuit. Fuses and
circuit breakers interrupt a circuit when there is
too much current flowing through it.
Fuses contain a thin piece of metal designed
to melt if the current is too high. Circuit
breakers, on the other hand, trip a spring
mechanism, which shuts off the flow of
electricity through the circuit, when there is too
much current. It can be reused over and over
(provided the cause of the increased flow is
Wet Cells
Wet cells are 'wet' because the electrolyte is a
liquid (usually an acid). Each electrode (zinc
and copper) reacts differently in the electrolyte.
The acidic electrolyte eats away the zinc
electrode, leaving behind electrons that give it
a negative charge. The copper electrode is
positive, but it is not eaten away. Electrons
travel from the negative terminal (attached to
the zinc electrode) through the device and on
to the positive terminal (attached to the copper
A car battery is made up of wet cells. Each
battery has 6 lead-acid wet cells containing
alternating positive and negative metal plated
(electrodes) in a sulfuric acid electrolyte.
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