Friday, August 31, 2007
No. 0031 - Grocery Cart Static Generator
Some of you that has been my friends for awhile, might know very well of my problem with static electricity shock. It doesn't kill me or anything but it hurts and it is very annoying. For some reason, I seem to get it worse than anyone I know. I can get shock at just about anywhere, anytime. For example, one time I got out of my car, walked inside a building, drank from the water fountain and I got shock at my tongue (clarification, I got shocked from the stream of water and not from the metal faucet. It is not like I licked water fountain. . .that's sick!). In another occasion, I was driving with my flip-flops and as I stepped out of my car, my pinky toe touched the asphalt and established an arc. I have attempted and tried many different ways to avoid being shocked. Some of you might remember that in my collection of keys, included this funny electrical looking key chain. Well, my friend, that key chain wasn't any ordinary key chain but a static discharger. Inside it consisted of a LED or a buzzer, used to dissipate the electrical charge. I was so charged up from time to time that I burnt out two of those things. I've tried discharging the static on metal doors with other parts of my body that is less sensitive such as my shoulders, legs, even my butt. (FYI, if you ever see my pant leg dirty, that's because I sometimes press my leg against the bottom part of my car door before I get out in order to establish electrical ground with the car, in avoiding the shock). As you can imagine how sometimes you might catch me brushing the metal door first with my shoulders. Now you know that I'm not so stupid that I'm trying to ram the door down but instead discharging the shock. My current method is to tap the metal door firmly holding my key. This way, I would still get a slight jolt, but at least the arc won't be on my skin.
Now not all of my methods mentioned above can entirely prevent me from getting shocked. On one particular instance, I was at Costco grocery shopping with a metal cart. I was holding the metal handle bar as I was maneuvering the cart around the store until I felt a slight but sharp poke at my palm. That occurred 2-3 more times afterwards so I thought I was grabbing a sharp corner of the metal weld. Then I started to push the cart with my hands gripping the side of the cart. Same thing! After feeling being pricked several times, I started to inspect the welds of the shopping cart and it looked smooth and fine. It was then I realized it was the cart that was shocking me repeatedly as the plastic wheel was generating the charge as it is rubbing with the floor. Out of this experience came an idea. What if each shopper that shops at a grocery store is asked to connect themselves to a store central battery of sort via a cable. As the shopper moves about the store with their cart, he or she will generate the charge and the cable will take that charge towards the storage (i.e. battery). Now I can assure you the charges and current from only one shopper might not be very significant, but imagine how many grocery stores are out there in this nation? Imagine how many people travel in and out of those stores everyday? With this type of masses, I would have to say that this stored up electricity might be able to add up to something. Now it would be pretty ridiculous to see millions of shopper all connected at the wrist to the building because eventually all will get tangled up pretty easily. But considering the energy crunch that we are all experiencing as a country today, should a few knots or trip and tumble really matter?