Ionization of Air – The Causes
Natural Causes of Ionization
Basically, lightning is caused by the electric field around a cloud breaking down; separating of the surrounding air into positive ions and electrons, thus ionizing the air.
Wind can produce ionized air through the movement of weather masses against each other or against the earth.
Falling water such as in a waterfall; causes the water droplets to become negatively charged, ionizing the surrounding air.
Causes of Ionization in the Domestic and Industrial Sectors
- Static Electricity
Most of us will have experienced this phenomenon when changing bed linen; a static charge being set up and earthed by our body. However this is only one example of production of static electricity. (See reference section for further details)
People with bronchial problems such as asthma and other allergies or illness, can benefit from the use of an air ionizing appliance. It should be noted that only negative ions are beneficial to health; positive ions are detrimental. (See reference section for further details)
The largest causes of ionization in industry are through an electrical discharge known as arcing; the production of a spark in high/low voltage equipment.
This has the same effect as lightning, where some of the surrounding air is separated into positive ions and electrons.
The electrical discharge can occur in switchgear, electric motors, electrical power stations, and sub-stations.
Switchgear and substations that regulate the voltage to our houses from the national grid will produce electrical discharges. Motors used in industry, power generators, as well as the motors in our domestic appliances will also produce a discharge of electricity through the contact of the brushes and the motor rotor.
As part of the production of nuclear energy, an ionization chamber is used; the ions being produced using an anode and cathode in an enclosed gas filled chamber.