MadSci Network: Chemistry

Re: hi can a electrostatic charge be used as a reducing agent in a chemical reaction?

Date: Thu Nov 12 09:02:32 2009
Posted By: Leslie Allen, Staff, Laboratory Chemist, Valero Refining Company
Area of science: Chemistry
ID: 1257417199.Ch

Hello Gene,
My experience in this area is limited to analytical chemistry. We perform 
a few redox analysis using coulometry. There are two basic categories, 
potentiostatic coulometry (holding the electric potential constant during 
the reaction)and amperostatic coulometry (holding the current constant).
Of the tests performed, Karl Fischer titration and Bromine number are our 
primary tests. Coulometry is the name given to a group of techniques in 
analytical chemistry that determine the amount of matter transformed 
during an electrolysis reaction by measuring the amount of electricity 
(in coulombs) consumed or produced.

In researching your question, Wikipedia provides some definitions:
Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is the sudden and momentary electric 
current that flows between two objects at different electrical potentials 
caused by direct contact or induced by an electrostatic field. The term 
is usually used in the electronics and other industries to describe 
momentary unwanted currents that may cause damage to electronic equipment.

Static electricity refers to the buildup of electric charge on the 
surface of objects. The static charges remain on an object until they 
either bleed off to ground or are quickly neutralized by a discharge. 
Although charge exchange can happen whenever any two surfaces come into 
contact and separate, a static charge will only remain when at least one 
of the surfaces has a high resistance to electrical flow (an electrical 

Lightning has been documented to cause chemical reactions. Lightning is 
an electrostatic charge of debated origin. Many researchers are 
investigating the nitrogen cycle of the atmosphere with relation to 
electrical storms.

Electrostatic charge possibly could be used as a donor of electrons and 
thus a reducing agent.


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