RIP Philo

Why can't you store electrons in a well?

Electrons don't go through insulators. That means they must pile up in front of an insulator over time. Why can't you just take these and store them in a well of some kind for later use? Where do they go?
Permalink son of parnas 
March 14th, 2007 3:05pm
Isn't that what a battery does?
Permalink Practical Economist 
March 14th, 2007 3:07pm
Yes, and once it hooks up to a load, or if you just short the terminals together, the electrons go from the positive side to the negative side (or negative to positive, whatever).
Permalink Send private email LinuxOrBust 
March 14th, 2007 3:18pm
Actually, I believe electrons collect on insulators -- that's where you get static charge from, no?

And a battery is a chemical process, which, when you connect the plus to the minus terminals outside the battery, drives charges out of the battery and into the other side, which allowes the chemical action to continue.

The actual voltage the battery sits at depends on the chemical process being used -- a Lead-Acid-Nickel rechargeable battery, or an alkaline battery (1.5 volts per cell) or a Nicked-Cadmium (Ni-Cad) battery (1.2 volts/cell) etc.

I believe also that electrons at room-temperature are energetic little critters.  Usually they're bonded into atoms.  I guess the 'electron gun' of a TV picture tube is shooting the little suckers at the front of the screen, aimed with the magnetic coils on the picture tube.

Also, 'native' electrons tend to repel each other quite strongly, considering how small and light they are.  So storing them in a well wouldn't be very simple.  I suppose you could work out some magnetic confinement approach, if you wanted to.
Permalink SaveTheHubble 
March 14th, 2007 3:32pm
Permalink JOSer 
March 14th, 2007 3:45pm
Exactly as JOSer points out, an electron well is called a capacitor. Unfortunately, the more electrons you pile into a capacitor the higher the voltage gets. This causes two problems: firstly, the higher the voltage gets the harder it becomes to push more electrons in against the pressure; secondly, most electrical devices like a constant voltage supply--and since the voltage is always going down on a capacitor when you draw power out of it, it is not a very convenient power source.

There's an absolute limit to how many electrons you can try to push in too. If you push too many in, the voltage will exceed working limits and either the capacitor's insulation will break down or the electrons will find some other way to short circuit and release the tension.

All that being said, capacitors are enormously useful in low power electronic circuits and nothing, including every computer in the world, would work without them.
Permalink Send private email bon vivant 
March 14th, 2007 5:15pm
What's up with you today parnas? Look's like you've gone subatomicparticlecrazy? Visit to the science museum today?
Permalink Send private email a2800276 
March 14th, 2007 5:16pm
> Visit to the science museum today?

What's with you that you have not?

Anyway, the question is more aren't their wild electrons spewing throughout the world and can't they be collected? Like rain in a dam?
Permalink son of parnas 
March 14th, 2007 5:41pm
To collect electrons, you must provide "potential" to shake them loose.
March 14th, 2007 6:34pm
Electrons are charged with electricity so they are always stuck to things, just like static makes bits of fluff stick to things; they never float loose without a lot of energy to give them a big kick.

It's like having lots of strong magnets stuck to the door of the refrigerator, it takes effort (work) to pry them loose or move them around.

Electrons themselves are not useful for energy, just like water in a cup is not useful for power. You need pumps or waves or river currents moving the water around before it does you any good as an energy source.
Permalink Send private email bon vivant 
March 14th, 2007 6:51pm
Um, yeah.  Potential.  Like I said.
March 14th, 2007 7:09pm
To a person without a thorough grounding in science, "potential" is a meaningless word. You may have the potential to excel in law, but what has that got to do with electrons?
Permalink Send private email bon vivant 
March 14th, 2007 7:32pm
> Electrons are charged with electricity

How are electrons charged with electricity?
Permalink son of parnas 
March 14th, 2007 7:42pm
You could almost say electrons are themselves electricity.

All matter has a balance of negative and positive charges, which normally cancel each other out leaving a neutral state. Electrons carry the negative charge, and the nucleus (core) of each atom carries the postive charge. Therefore if you remove electrons from something neutral it becomes positively charged, and if you add electrons to something neutral it becomes negatively charged.

Electrons themselves have a fixed negative charge as an intrinsic property. The charge on an electron can neither be changed nor removed. It is the same for all electrons and is a physical constant.
Permalink Send private email bon vivant 
March 14th, 2007 8:06pm
Don't let these people confuse you. There is but a single electron in the entire universe. Everything else we call 'electron' is merely a probabilistically parametrized pointer to this singleton.

The "original" and "sole" electron is located off Route 9 in Framingham, Mass, by the Home Depot.
Permalink Send private email strawberry snowflake 
March 14th, 2007 8:17pm
"To a person without a thorough grounding in science, "potential" is a meaningless word."

So why not just say you were explaining my explanation rather than waxing on like some teacher who won't let the student interrupt because he's afraid to look like a dumbass?

March 14th, 2007 8:52pm
look. it's a sensitive anonymous poster. how odd..
Permalink selected 
March 14th, 2007 9:24pm
Why do I have to explain anything to some random anonymous poster dropping off-hand comments out of the void?