What makes a Kelvin Generator work?

In summary, a Kelvin water dropper works by dripping water onto two sides, attracting positive charge to one side and negative charge to another side. This charge eventually builds up high enough to create a spark. The buildup of charge is due to the presence of ions in the water solution and the additional charge created by friction as the drop falls.
  • #1
Eternals
3
0
I am wondering how a Kelvin water dropper works and can generate sparks. Basically, water drips onto two sides, and the apparatus attracts positive charge to one side and negative charge to another side. The charge eventually builds up high enough to make a spark. You can see more information about it here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelvin_water_dropper

I can understand that general idea, but what I don't understand is where the positive and negative charge comes from. Isn't a single water molecule neutral? It would have (1 + 1 + 8 = 10) protons and also 10 electrons, so the net charge of a single molecule would be 0... So what would be making the buildup of charge?
 
Chemistry news on Phys.org
  • #2
Everything is explained in the wiki page you linked to, hard to add something to the description given there. Molecule of water is neutral, but solution is full of ions - single drop is neutral only on average, as it can easily contain few cations or few anions more. Then when the drop is created and falls it can get additionally charged due to friction.

--
 
  • #3


A Kelvin generator, also known as a Kelvin water dropper, works through a process known as triboelectric charging. This occurs when two different materials come into contact and then separate, causing a transfer of electrons between them. In the case of a Kelvin generator, the two sides are made of different materials, typically metal and rubber, and the water droplets act as the "bridge" between them.

As the water droplets fall, they come into contact with the metal and rubber, causing the transfer of electrons from one material to the other. This creates a separation of charge, with one side becoming positively charged and the other becoming negatively charged. This separation of charge continues to build up as the water droplets continue to fall, ultimately creating a high enough potential difference to produce a spark.

It is important to note that although a single water molecule may be neutral, the water droplets in the Kelvin generator are made up of many molecules. As they come into contact with the different materials, the triboelectric effect causes the transfer of electrons between the materials and the water droplets, resulting in the buildup of charge.

In summary, a Kelvin generator works by utilizing the triboelectric effect to create a separation of charge between two materials, with the water droplets acting as the medium for this charge transfer. This buildup of charge ultimately leads to the production of sparks.
 

Related to What makes a Kelvin Generator work?

1. What is a Kelvin Generator?

A Kelvin Generator, also known as a Kelvin Water Dropper, is a type of electrostatic generator that uses the principles of triboelectric charging and electrostatic induction to create a continuous flow of electricity.

2. How does a Kelvin Generator work?

A Kelvin Generator works by using two conductive tubes, one filled with water and the other with a liquid of lower conductivity, such as oil or alcohol. As the water droplets fall from one tube to the other, they create a charge imbalance due to the triboelectric effect. This charge imbalance is then collected by metal combs, creating a continuous flow of electricity.

3. What materials are needed to build a Kelvin Generator?

The materials needed to build a Kelvin Generator include two conductive tubes (such as glass or plastic), water, a liquid of lower conductivity (such as oil or alcohol), metal combs, and wires for connecting the combs to a load.

4. What is the purpose of a Kelvin Generator?

A Kelvin Generator can be used for educational demonstrations, as a power source for small electronic devices, or as a component in larger electrostatic systems. It can also be used to study and demonstrate concepts such as triboelectric charging, electrostatic induction, and charge separation.

5. Are there any safety precautions to consider when using a Kelvin Generator?

Yes, there are several safety precautions to consider when using a Kelvin Generator. The high voltage output can be dangerous, so it is important to use caution and insulate any exposed wires. It is also recommended to use a grounding wire to prevent electric shocks. Additionally, the generator should not be operated in damp or humid conditions, as this can affect its performance and potentially cause damage.

Similar threads

Replies
2
Views
1K
Replies
7
Views
2K
Replies
19
Views
9K
Replies
5
Views
2K
Replies
8
Views
1K
  • Introductory Physics Homework Help
Replies
8
Views
1K
Replies
2
Views
1K
  • Biology and Chemistry Homework Help
Replies
5
Views
170
  • Other Physics Topics
Replies
22
Views
4K
Replies
5
Views
2K
Back
Top