To understand Static Eliminator, one has to know the basics of atoms. An atom has a nucleus consisting of Protons and Neutrons, and Electrons, which move around that core. Protons have positive (+) charge; Neutrons are neutral; and Electrons have negative (-) charge. Normally an atom has an equal number of Protons and Electrons. In that condition it is without any charge. But sometimes the electrons migrate. This causes a reduction in the negative charge and the atom becomes positive. An atom thus charged is called an ‘ion’. Rubbing materials against each other can create the imbalance between Protons and Electrons.
Electrons cannot pass easily through certain materials that have insulating properties. When such a shield exists, the charge that builds up remains static unless it is grounded or otherwise handled. Sometimes the voltage gradient reaches an intensity that forces the insulator to break down. Lightning is an example of this. (Here, dry air is the insulator between the clouds that sometimes carry static electricity.)
Industry loses billions of dollars annually because of damages caused by Static Eliminator in several ways. This energy can lead to problems in day-to-day life as well. For instance, it may result in malfunctioning of electronic hearing aids. Gasoline safety rules warn against reentering a vehicle while it is self-filling. There have been reported instances of fire erupting because the person coming out of the vehicle touches the nozzle without defusing Static Eliminator. Touching the metal part of the car away from the filling point when the person gets out can avoid this danger.
It is essential to eliminate to the extent possible or control this motionless electric charge to avoid the problems. The first step towards this is to measure and analyze static electricity. Effective instruments are available for this. Next, the appropriate process should be selected and set in motion with the help of experts. Induction in which tinsel is usually used is a simple and effective method. Grounding, where a conductive mat is often employed, is an alternative. Another procedure is to use a Static Eliminator to neutralize static electricity by ionization.
Static Eliminator is not always a villain. It is energy that can be harnessed. Industry is also finding uses for it. To give one instance – for the In-Mold Labeling process, static electricity efficiently holds up the labels.