CHAPEL HILL – Why do you get shocked most noticeably in the winter?
WCHL’s resident science expert Jeff Danner says, especially in the winter, you’ll experience the natural phenomenon of exchanging electrons from one surface to another.
“If one of the two surfaces is an insulator, as the surfaces are rubbing together, the insulating surface will accumulate those electrons,” Danner says. “As they accumulate, that’s the electric charge. The more and more of them there are, the higher the charge it.”
Danner says those electrons are waiting for the surface where they’ve built up to touch something grounded and will then jump over to that surface. That creates the spark that you see, often feel, and sometimes hear.
But why don’t you feel that spark as much in the summer?
“In the summertime it’s humid,” Danner says. “When the world is humid, everything around you—your skin, the surfaces, the rug—is coated with a think layer of water molecules. Water is a conductor. As I said before, in order for a static charge to build up, one of the two surfaces rubbing together needs to be an insulator. Well, when the world is covered with water, nothing is really insulating on the surface.”
The energy in the spark is very high—so high it could like a fire. It’s the same concept that makes spark plugs work.
Danner says that’s why it’s so important to make sure you touch something metal before filling up your car’s gas tank.
“A few times a year, someone who has just filled their gas tank, and then they go out to remove the nozzle, there’ll be a spark from themselves to the nozzle or to the car, and that’ll ignite the gasoline vapors that are there,” Danner says.
And, he says it happens to women more than 95 percent more than it does to men.
“It’s traced back to a difference in behavior,” Danner says. “Most men, they get out of the car, they stand on the ground, they fill the tank, they put the nozzle away, and they get back in the car. Many, if not all, women will start the gas flow, go back and sit in the front seat, take care of something, and then get back out. Well, while they’re sitting in the car, if the car has a charge accumulated from while it’s driving, they can get charged on their clothing or on their bodies. Then when they go do reach for that, that spark will light the gas.”
Danner says some cars now have a spot on the driver’s door where he or she can discharge any built up electrons before going to the gas tank.http://chapelboro.com/news/safety/dont-touch-gas-tank-without-discharging
CHARLOTTE – Get your gas now; AAA Carolinas says the prices are going back up.
Since last week, national gas price averages dropped from $3.67 per gallon to $3.62, and they’re down to $3.54 in the Triangle, three cents lower than a week ago. Although prices at the pump have decreased over the past few days, Public Relations Manager at AAA Carolinas, Angela Daley, says there was a huge increase a few weeks ago and it’s likely to happen again.
“We saw a huge increase a few weeks ago, or over the past few weeks, and we’ve just started to see a decrease over the past couple days. The increase was due to unrest in Egypt, which caused crude oil prices to spike well over a hundred dollars a barrel,” says Daley.
Daley says the rapid increase in crude oil prices per barrel was causing prices to spike two to three cents a night, and now what we’re seeing is a little bit of a pullback.
Despite the recent drop, Daley says prices tend to increase in the second half of the summer, during the peak summer driving season when demand is at its highest point of the year.
“I do expect gas prices to turn around and start heading back upwards towards the second half of the summer, but it’s really hard to say. If crude oil prices stabilize, or if they go back down, depending on what happens in the Middle East as well—all those factors will impact prices at the pump,” says Daley.
She says another factor that can play a huge role in affecting gas prices as we head into August and September is hurricane season.
“We know that even the threat of a hurricane in the Gulf can impact gas prices tremendously. That’s because we get ninety percent of our oil from the gulf,” Daley says.
Although hurricane season is most prominent in August and September, Daley advises us to keep an eye on what’s happening in the Middle East as well, because those conflicts are independent of seasonal trends that affect gas prices.http://chapelboro.com/news/traffic/gas-price-decrease-not-likely-to-last
RALEIGH – North Carolina lawmakers are honing rules that would govern underground natural gas drilling and encourage offshore oil drilling.
The Senate gave final approval Tuesday to legislation intended to spur the state’s energy. It now goes to Gov. Pat McCrory.
The measure removes an earlier idea to begin issuing permits in March 2015 for underground gas drilling using a method called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The existing law directs state agencies to craft rules for oil and gas exploration by October 2014 and requires the legislature to act before issuing any permits.
The legislation also directs McCrory to negotiate an offshore energy alliance with the governors of South Carolina and Virginia.
Republican Rep. Mike Stone of Sanford says lawmakers want to tell the energy industry that North Carolina welcomes drilling.http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/nc-lawmakers-hone-rules-for-gas-oil-drilling
Image courtesy of Clotee Pridgen Allochuku
CHARLOTTE – You may never see gas prices go below $3, according to a new report by the American Automobile Association.
Director of communications for AAA Carolinas, Angela Daley, says that, with a few exceptions like South Carolina, this looks like the future of gas prices in America.
“I think it’s reasonable for some parts of the country to drop below $3 a gallon, but for the most part, what we’re seeing is that range between $3 and $4 a gallon, with $3.50 being about normal,” Daley says.
Oil prices are only expected to go up, as Daley says prices typically rise in the second half of the summer.
“It’s due to demand, but it’s also due to the fact that unrest in Egypt is causing concerns over the distribution of oil through the Suez Canal,” Daley says.
Daley says that conflict in other countries affects our oil prices because the oil market is global and interconnected.
“I think the more that we can produce domestically, we’ll be able to keep the volatility from being as dramatic as we have seen over the past few years,” Daley says. “But it’s really all about supply and demand and remembering that we’re working in a global market, so as much as we’re producing here, much of that oil is still being exported elsewhere.”
Daley says rising gas prices are also a result of both oil production and oil demand from growing economies.
“For the most part, we’re seeing that countries, like China, India, Brazil, are all increasing their demand,” Daley says. “So as we increase our supply here and globally, the demand is also going up.”
Daley says oil prices in North Carolina especially are expected to rise throughout the summer, as the Carolinas get 90 percent of their oil from the Gulf and hurricane season is just getting started.http://chapelboro.com/news/business/aaa-report-no-more-gas-below-3
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) – The North Carolina gas tax is increasing from 37.5 cents per gallon to 37.6 cents per gallon.
The Department of Revenue says the new rate for the motor fuels tax on gasoline, diesel and alternative fuels starts July 1 and lasts through 2013. The tax is computed using a flat rate of 17.5 cents per gallon and a variable of the average wholesale price of motor fuel during the last six months.
The average wholesale price is a weighted average of the wholesale prices of gasoline and No. 2 diesel fuel. The average price for the last period was $2.8743 cents per gallon.
A new rate will go into effect in January 2014.
Consumers at retail locations pay the tax. The money then goes to the department.http://chapelboro.com/news/traffic/nc-gas-tax-to-remain-mostly-flat-for-next-6-months