Should I fear a discharge from Static?

Discussion in 'General Handgun Discussion' started by 70cuda383, Jan 5, 2013.

  1. 70cuda383

    70cuda383 New Member

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    so, the other day I was at the local "kids science center" where they do all kinds of cool science stuff aimed at kids. It's a great day trip to get the kids into something fun, educational, and a wholesome family activity.

    Anyway...i was carrying concealed.

    And I saw them using the static electricity generator thingy. (the guys name it's named after escapes me currently)

    but you've seen them. a human chain touches it, they turn it on, a static charge is built up, then the last person in the line gets quite a jolt of static as it discharges.

    It got me thinking....I know that munitions in our military are often electrically fired and static can set them off.

    How "statically safe" is our ammunition, which is impact fired? I played it safe and didn't go anywhere near the static generator, but it still got me wondering.:eek:
     
  2. HOSSFLY

    HOSSFLY New Member

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    Slim i'd think-
    Now reloading said ammo-Whole nuther ballgame-
     

  3. qwiksdraw

    qwiksdraw New Member

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    I think they call those things, "static electricity balls."

    Or you might also hear them called, "plasma balls."
     
  4. JSStryker

    JSStryker New Member

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    Last edited: Jan 5, 2013
  5. robocop10mm

    robocop10mm Lifetime Supporting Member Lifetime Supporter

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    Good question. Static electricity is very high voltage, but VERY low amperage. I seriously doubt a round could go off from static, even from a Van De Graff generator.
     
  6. scottmac

    scottmac New Member

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    The risk is extremely low to non-existent. Static electricity is still "electricity" in that it is current flow, and it will take the path of least resistance.

    In this case, the static charge would follow the metal of the shell casing, which forms a "faraday cage" around the powder and primer compound.

    As mentioned, exposed power (or maybe primers, if you could get the spark to jump into the center of the cup, through the primer compound) could maybe be ignited by a heavy enough spark at the right time in the right place.

    High explosives (except C4 and similar), Det cord, explosive primers and similar initiators are a different animal and some can be static sensitive.
     
  7. HockaLouis

    HockaLouis New Member

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    Seen serious tests tryingto ignite powders with static. Answer is: they couldn't do it and they were TRYING! Now, sparks are different...
     
  8. blucoondawg

    blucoondawg New Member

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    I would believe electrically fired munitions would be exposing the electricity directly to the powder or explosive they are igniting with the charge, sort of like removing the primer from a shell and replacing it with something which would create a electrical charge to do the job the primer normally does in our shells, in a smokeless powder cartridge the powder is sealed inside the casing by the bullet and primer, I don't see how any spark could get inside there and ignite anything unless it were somehow done intentionally.
     
  9. hoovco

    hoovco New Member

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    Electrically set off munitions is a different story. They have more sensitive loads and it's basically set off with a filament that burns when electricity is applied to it. You'll be fine.
     
  10. Chainfire

    Chainfire Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I did some work in an Olin factory that made all kinds of ammo. I can tell you this. Every damn thing in that factory is grounded. If there was a metal tool box.....grounded, bucket of bolts.....grounded. They take static a serious as a heart attack.
     
  11. 70cuda383

    70cuda383 New Member

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    and that's what inspired my question. my military experience is with B-52s. I've been around nukes, conventional munitions, and even highly sensitive electronic jamming/countermeasure equipment that helps prevent enemy radars from locking onto the aircraft.

    needless to say, static electricity is a HUGE deal on the flight line. before loading any munitions, an aircraft must be totally dead, everything powered off, and even then, they still do "stray voltage checks" before loading, and everything gets statically grounded to each other, and with the ground.


    same with refueling operations.

    in a ammuntion factory, I would imagine that the biggest risk with a static discharge there, is due to the fact that they have open powder exposed at some point during the process, which I will agree, is MUCH more dangerous and vulnerable to a static spark than an enclosed bullet.

    And, I realize that the risk of it is nearly zero, with a static discharge igniting powder in a round simply because it was on your person when YOU experienced a static discharge. I still think I'll play it safe and avoid them though.


    and yes, Van DeGraff generator! that's the guys name I couldn't remember.
     
  12. orangello

    orangello New Member

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  13. scottmac

    scottmac New Member

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    Just a minor correction: connecting everything together is "bonding;" because if everything is at the same potential, no current flows. Beyond that, the bonded system can be grounded, but it then becomes a conduction path for discharge by things of higher potential.

    An example would be the folks that work on the ultra-high voltage lines. The first step is to connect yourself to the line (but not ground!!) so there is no current flow.
     
  14. Viking

    Viking Active Member

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    I've been in a blasting area years ago and they had signs saying turn off all transmitters and I think radios due to possible signals coming from the oscillator circuit in the old tube radios, this was for electrically fired caps. When I was in the Air Force and got TDY at Elmendorf AFB, Anchorage, Alaska I was issued a cotton parka because my nylon parka would have caused static in the dry air. We were all told to ground our fuel filler nozzles before putting them in the fuel filler. All the aircraft that were stationary on the flight line were all grounded. I have been around open gun powder and primers for better than 30 years and have never had a problem, however I will say being around black powder could present an issue as a static spark could set that stuff off. Thing is one generally doesn't have a large amount of black powder exposed at any given time unless you have a black powder canon.
     
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2013
  15. Vikingdad

    Vikingdad New Member

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    Aren't those old timey dynamite detonators with the plunger on top of a wood box just a Van Der Graaf generator with a two conductor wire going out to the charge?

    (Edit: Now I want one of those things!)
     
  16. scottmac

    scottmac New Member

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    No, they're just a hand-powered DC generator.

    A Van Der Graf generator makes static electricity, usually by running a motorized rubber belt against a frayed screen that collects the charge on the surface of the metal globe.
     
  17. qwiksdraw

    qwiksdraw New Member

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    Maybe we should ask the guys at Myth Busters to find out.

    They do like exploding things, you know.
     
  18. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    The rack-and-bar blasting machine is a magneto- shoving down the handle spins a generator that charges a condenser- at the bottom of the stroke the contacts close, and stored current zaps the electric blasting caps. Several hundred volt output on those, BTW.

    Back to the OP- no, static is not an issue with LOADED ammo for the reasons given- the loaded cartridge is a mini-Faraday cage. Otherwise we would all have blown up years ago! :p

    When LOADING ammo- in a factory- static IS a HUGE deal. Hence humidity control, bonding systems, etc. For us hobby reloaders- just watch it when pouring powder- especially black- from some types of plastic containers. Factory containers are fine. But the plastic measuring cup you swiped from the kitchen when she was not looking may NOT be OK.

    Re: Explosives- C4, detonating cord, etc etc etc pretty much ignore static. ELECTRIC blasting caps (which are headed the same was as 8 track tapes) CAN be fired by static. The signs you see that say "Turn off radios"- with a high output transmitter, IF the length of your leg wires matches the frequency of the transmitter- you can get an "induced" current in the leg wires. 0.25 amps will make a cap shoot.

    This also explains why the new caps are either non-electric shock tube caps, or ELECTRONIC caps- each cap has a computer chip- will not shoot until it gets a computer command.

    To my brother in arms who hung out at Elmendorf- I was North of you- A LOT North. If you want to see static, sling load a hovering helicopter in Feb. More like a bolt of lightning!
     
  19. hiwall

    hiwall Well-Known Member

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  20. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    IIRC, the Etron rifles actually needed a specific pulse, not just current. But back in the 60s there WAS a shotgun known as (I think) the Electro-Prime that had contacts on the back of the shell, and a filament inside the shell.

    And many military aircraft have cannon that use an electrical ignition system on their guns.