Electrostatic Hazard Analysis

Electrostatic chargeability refers to the property of materials that allows them to acquire an electric charge through friction, induction, or conduction without the flow of current. Objects become charged when electrons are transferred between them, leading to an excess or deficit of electrons, creating a net positive or negative charge.

This phenomenon arises from the behavior of charged particles, particularly electrons, within the atomic structure of materials. When two materials come into contact and then separate, electrons can be transferred, leaving one material positively charged (having lost electrons) and the other negatively charged (having gained electrons).

Electrostatic chargeability plays a crucial role in various fields, including industry, technology, and everyday life. It is the principle behind static electricity, which manifests in phenomena like lightning, the attraction of charged objects, and the function of devices such as photocopy machines and electrostatic precipitators.

Understanding electrostatic chargeability is fundamental in designing materials, developing technologies, and ensuring safety in environments where static electricity buildup can lead to hazards or disturbances in electronic equipment.


For solid materials, the material to be tested is subjected to various forms of triboelectrification or constant rubbing with any material in the triboelectric series for a few minutes. The accumulated charge on the material is measured using a static field meter.

The test is also designed to examine the relative ability of a powdered material to generate charge by means of contact charging (triboelectrification) against selected materials such as glass or plastic, under very specific test conditions. The bench-top test apparatus used for the chargeability measurements presented here consists of a vibratory feeder which feeds powder through a funnel connected to a test pipe. A vacuum is applied to the other end of the pipe to cause powder flow (and powder/ pipe wall contact). The powder that has travelled along the pipe is collected in a Faraday cup which is electrically connected to an electrometer set up to measure the total electrostatic charge on the collected powder. Chargeability is calculated by dividing the charge on the powder by the powder mass. The test is repeated using different pipe materials and on powder that has been conditioned under two different relative humidity conditions (ambinet %RH and low %RH).


The test is conducted in accordance with ASTM D4470-97, ‘’Standard Test Method for Static Electrification’’.

Data Interpretation

For materials exhibiting high electrostatic chargeability, implementing safety measures is crucial to mitigate potential hazards associated with static electricity buildup. For example establishing a proper grounding system for the material and equipment to prevent the accumulation of excess charges. This involves connecting conductive materials to the ground to allow the dissipation of static charges. Bonding also ensures that different conductive materials are at the same electrical potential, minimizing potential differences that can lead to static discharge. Employing materials that are specifically designed to minimize static electricity buildup can also be implemented when material are determined to have high propensity to electrostatic charge. Anti-static materials have properties that allow charges to dissipate more readily, reducing the risk of accumulation. Higher humidity can help dissipate static charges more effectively, reducing the likelihood of electrostatic buildup on materials. Installing devices like ionizers or static eliminators in areas where materials with high chargeability are present based on test results can be very beneficial. These devices emit ions that neutralize static charges and prevent their accumulation on surfaces.

When to perform Electrostatic chargeability testing

Electrostatic chargeability testing is recommended in various scenarios, particularly in industries or situations where static electricity buildup can pose risks or impact processes. For instance, during the assessment of the electrostatic chargeability of materials, especially in industries dealing with flammable substances, explosive atmospheres, electronic components, or sensitive equipment, electrostatic chargeability results helps in identifying potential risks and implementing appropriate mitigation strategies. Also, incorporating regular electrostatic chargeability testing as part of preventive maintenance protocols ensures continuous monitoring of potential static-related risks, allowing for proactive measures to prevent incidents. During the development of new materials or selection of materials for specific applications, testing for electrostatic chargeability helps to understand their propensity to accumulate static charges. This is crucial in choosing materials suitable for environments where static electricity can cause issues.

Why work with Prime Process Safety Center

  • Process Safety Center is a leader in process safety dust testing with very experienced laboratory personnel. At Prime Process Safety Center our ultimate goal is to provide accurate, reliable and defensible data that meets industry and regulatory standards. We understand the need for the quality of your data, and we work assiduously to achieve just that.
  • We are knowledgeable and experienced in performing electrostatic chargeability testing for both powders and solid materials, ensuring accurate and reliable results.
  • We have state-of-the-art electrostatic chargeability testing equipment, providing precise and sensitive measurements.
  • We follow strict testing protocols and quality control measures to ensure consistent and reliable test results.
  • Our team can interpret and analyze the data obtained from the tests, providing valuable insights and recommendations for your specific application or research.


What causes static electricity?

Static electricity is caused by the movement or transfer of electrons between materials. When two materials come into contact and then separate, electrons can be transferred, leaving one material positively charged (having lost electrons) and the other negatively charged (having gained electrons).

How does static electricity affect electronics?

Static electricity can damage electronic components. When a static discharge occurs, it can generate a high voltage that may exceed the tolerance of sensitive electronic parts, leading to their failure or malfunction.

Which materials are more prone to static charge buildup?

Materials that are poor conductors of electricity (insulators) are more prone to accumulating static charges. Examples include plastics, rubber, glass, and certain fabrics like synthetic fibers.

What are the dangers associated with static discharge?

Static discharge can lead to hazardous situations, such as fires or explosions in environments where flammable gases, vapors, or dust are present. It can also cause damage to electronic devices, disrupt manufacturing processes, or ignite combustible materials.

How can static electricity be controlled or minimized?

  • Static electricity can be controlled through various means:
  • Grounding and bonding systems to dissipate charges.
  • Using anti-static materials that allow charges to dissipate more readily.
  • Managing humidity levels to reduce static buildup.
  • Implementing static eliminators or ionizers in areas prone to static accumulation.
  • Educating personnel on proper handling techniques to minimize friction and charge buildup.