ESD related fire accidents are fairly common in industries that handle or use flammable liquids or gases. ESD related damage is seen in large rotating equipment and some of the coal mine explosions are attributed to ESD. Training of people and compliance with safety procedures are important to prevent ESD accidents.
Static electricity is the build up of electric charge on the surface of an object due to friction or contact with other objects. This charge gets released when the object comes in contact with an object that is grounded or has charge of the opposite polarity. The release of stored charge is termed electrostatic discharge (ESD). A common experience of ESD is the mild electric shock experienced when touching a metal doorknob after walking across a synthetic carpet or from the car body after sliding across a car seat. Lightning is an example of ESD caused by the build-up for electrostatic charge in thunder clouds and a lighting strike is an illustration of the enormous energy that could be released from an electrostatic discharge.
Static electricity is considered the oldest known form of electrical energy. The Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus, Greece observed in 600 BC that amber rods rubbed with fur had the ability to attract dry leaves and dust. The Thales observation can be reproduced at home by running a comb through dry hair and seeing that it can attract pieces of thread or paper. In the 1400s, several military forts in Europe and the Caribbean experienced inadvertent explosions in gunpowder stores due to static electricity. In the 1860s, paper mills in the US found that grounding and ionization of air helped dissipate static electricity build up on the paper web as it travelled through drying conveyors. Several other industries now regularly install electrostatic discharge control measures including petrochemicals, pharmaceutical,