Van De Graaff Generator

The use of electrostatics

History of the Van De Graaff Generator

The Van De Graaff Generator was invented by an American physicist, Robert J. Van De Graaf, in the years of 1929-1931. He created it to show static electricity. When the generator is started, it creates a huge amount of stable volts. The generator was made as a small machine but over the years, however, it was made bigger. There was one created to be 40 feet tall and could generate 5 million volts, which was made in 1933.

What is it made of?

A moving belt made of silk, or a similar flexible material that does not conduct electricity, runs over 2 metal pulleys, one which is surrounded by a hollow metal sphere. There are 2 comb-shaped poles made of metal, one at the top of the generator in the sphere and the other at the bottom of the conveyer belt. There is also a metal rod which will become negatively charged by the movement of the electrons flowing into it.


How does it work?

1. Start it up so that the conveyer belt is moving the electrons and protons inside the generator


2. The 2 metal comb-shaped rods will take either the protons or the electrons (depending on the placement of the rods) and transfer them to the next place they need to be. One rod is sitting at the top of the conveyer belt, inside the sphere, which collects the protons and sends them into the sphere and the other at the bottom of the conveyer belt moving the electrons into the soon to be negatively charged rod.


3. Once the sphere is positively charged and the rod is negatively charged you bring them close to each other (NOT TOUCHING) and there will be a shock (the discharging of the sphere), which shows the static electricity affect.

How do the ones that you touch work?

1. The conveyer belt starts up moving the protons up into the sphere and the electrons down into the ground.


2. A person stands on an insulator and touches the sphere making there hair stick up because they are becoming charged and neutralizing the sphere.


Mythbusters Van de Graaff generator
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