Theoretical and experimental characterisation of energy in an electrostatic discharge

Su, Yi-chuan (2013) Theoretical and experimental characterisation of energy in an electrostatic discharge. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Electrostatic discharges have been identified as the most likely cause in a number of incidents of fire and explosion with unexplained ignitions. The lack of data and suitable models for this ignition mechanism creates a void in the analysis to quantify the importance of static electricity as a credible ignition mechanism. Quantifiable hazard analysis of the risk of ignition by static discharge cannot, therefore, be entirely carried out with our current understanding of this phenomenon.

The study of electrostatics has been ongoing for a long time. However, it was not until the wide spread use of electronics that research was developed for the protection of electronics from electrostatic discharges. Current experimental models for electrostatic discharge developed for intrinsic safety with electronics are inadequate for ignition analysis and typically are not supported by theoretical analysis.

A preliminary simulation and experiment with low voltage was designed to investigate the characteristics of energy dissipation and provided a basis for a high voltage investigation. It was seen that for a low voltage the discharge energy represents about 10% of the initial capacitive energy available and that the energy dissipation was within 10 ns of the initial discharge. The potential difference is greatest at the initial break down when the largest amount of the energy is dissipated. The discharge pathway is then established and minimal energy is dissipated as energy dissipation becomes greatly influenced by other components and stray resistance in the discharge circuit. From the initial low voltage simulation work, the importance of the energy dissipation and the characteristic of the discharge were determined.

After the preliminary low voltage work was completed, a high voltage discharge experiment was designed and fabricated. Voltage and current measurement were recorded on the discharge circuit allowing the discharge characteristic to be recorded and energy dissipation in the discharge circuit calculated. Discharge energy calculations show consistency with the low voltage work relating to discharge energy with about 30-40% of the total initial capacitive energy being discharged in the resulting high voltage arc.

After the system was characterised and operation validated, high voltage ignition energy measurements were conducted on a solution of n-Pentane evaporating in a 250 cm3 chamber.

A series of ignition experiments were conducted to determine the minimum ignition energy of n-Pentane. The data from the ignition work was analysed with standard statistical regression methods for tests that return binary (yes/no) data and found to be in agreement with recent publications.

The research demonstrates that energy dissipation is heavily dependent on the circuit configuration and most especially by the discharge circuit's capacitance and resistance. The analysis established a discharge profile for the discharges studied and validates the application of this methodology for further research into different materials and atmospheres; by systematically looking at discharge profiles of test materials with various parameters (e.g., capacitance, inductance, and resistance). Systematic experiments looking at the discharge characteristics of the spark will also help understand the way energy is dissipated in an electrostatic discharge enabling a better understanding of the ignition characteristics of materials in terms of energy and the dissipation of that energy in an electrostatic discharge.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

217 since deposited on 17 Oct 2013
73 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 63476
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Steinberg, Theodore, Castillo, Martin, & Lyall, Jim
Keywords: electrostatic discharge, high impedance measurement circuit, minimum ignition energy, N-pentane, spark energy, and spark discharge
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 17 Oct 2013 06:06
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2015 04:45

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page