Science Questions

Can electricity be conducted through moving water?

Sun, 2nd Nov 2008

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Ripu Daman-Singh asked:

Can you conduct electricity up a continuous flow of moving water? Weíve all heard the idea of someone peeing on the underground and getting electrocuted.


Dave - You certainly can conduct electricity in a liquid. Whether itís going to move fast enough to overwhelm the flow is basically you need a voltage. If youíre trying to make current flow opposite to the liquid you need more voltage to get the same current because thereís going to be more resistance. Itís effectively moving a lot faster. You certainly can get an electric current moving in a moving liquid.

Chris - How fast does an electric current flow through a liquid?

Dave - Normally in a metal itís very slowly because youíve got an awful lot of carriers. On average itís moving a few millimetres a second.

Chris - The effect is instantaneous because itís like Newtonís cradle: you put charge in at one end and it knocks everything along and charge comes out the other end.

Dave -  The actual signal is moving at near the speed of light. In a liquid you should certainly get a Newtonís cradle push-along. You might need a little more voltage to get the same current though.


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