Electricity Generator

By R. W. Hurst, President, The Electricity Forum

Electricity Generator

Electricity Generator

An Electricity Generator can create electricity by converting mechanical energy into electrical current that can be used in electrical systems. Wind turbines house such generators to convert the kinetic energy of wind into power that can feed power grids. involve the production of electrons that are a part of every atom,. Electricity is what results when electrons are flowing through a conductor. Ultimately, all that is needed to generate electricity is a metal wire for a conductor and a catalyst to start the electrically charged electrons flowing. You see, unlike natural gas and other fossil fuels that are mined from the Earth, electricity is a manufactured product. Most generators operated by electric utilties are alternating current (ac) generators but there are still some direct current (dc) generators in existence.

Alternating current is easily generated by means of a rotating magnet windings in a coil of wire, or by a rotating coil of wire inside a powerful magnet. In either case, the ac appears between the ends of the length of wire. This takes place in an electricity generator, which was invented by Michael Faraday. A portable generator can be used as backup power during a power outage.

The ac voltage that a generator (motor) can develop depends on the strength of the magnets field, the number of turns in the wire coil, and the speed at which the magnet or coil rotates. The ac frequency depends only on the speed of rotation. Normally, for utility ac, this speed is 3,600 revolutions per minute (rpm), or 60 complete revolutions per second (rps), so that the frequency is 60 Hz.

When a load, such as a light bulb or heater, is connected to an ac generator, it becomes more difficult to turn the generator. The more power needed from a generator, the greater the amount of power required to drive it. This is why it is not possible to connect a generator to, for instance, your stationary bicycle, and pedal an entire city into electrification. There's no way to get something for nothing. The electrical power that comes out of a generator can never be more than the mechanical power driving it. In fact, there is always some energy lost, mainly as heat in the generator. Your legs might generate 50 W of power to run a small radio, but nowhere near enough to provide electricity for a household.

The efficiency of a generator is the ratio of the magnet generate power output to the driving power, both measured in the same units (such as watts or kilowatts), multiplied by 100 to get a percentage. No generator is 100 percent efficient. But a good one can come fairly close to this ideal.

At power plants, the power generators can be huge. Each one can be as big as a house. In a power plant, each electricity generator is driven by a massive turbine. Often, steam drives the turbine, and the steam is obtained via heat derived from natural energy source, like falling water.

There are many different sources of electricity and many different ways electricity can be produced and consumed.


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