The Determination of the Location of Contact Electrification-Induced Discharge Events

This paper describes a method for determining the location of contact electrification-induced electrical discharges detected in a system comprising a steel sphere rolling in a circular path on an organic insulator. The electrode of the “rolling sphere tool” monitors, in real time, the separation of charge between the sphere and the organic insulator and the resultant electrostatic discharges. For every revolution of the sphere, the electrometer records a peak, the height of which represents the amount of charge on the sphere. As the charge on the sphere accumulates, the resulting electric field at the surface of the sphere eventually exceeds the breakdown limit of air and causes a discharge. The position of this discharge can be inferred from the relative amplitudes and positions of the peaks preceding and following the discharge event. We can localize each discharge event to one of several zones, each of which corresponds to a geometrically defined fraction of the circular path of the sphere. The fraction of charge on the sphere that could be detected by the electrode depended on the relative positions of the sphere and the electrode. The use of multiple electrodes improved the accuracy of the method in localizing discharge events and extended the range of angles over which they could be localized to cover the entire circular path followed by the sphere.