How Much Energy Is Provided By Old Coal Power Plants Electricity Innovations

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Electricity Innovations

Although the modern electric utility industry didn’t begin until the late 1800s, we’ve been fascinated by electricity since our ancestors first witnessed lightning. The ancient Greeks discovered that rubbing amber produced an electrical charge. Electricity is a basic part of nature and is one of our most used forms of energy. It is a secondary source of energy that we get from the conversion of primary sources such as natural gas, oil, coal and nuclear power. Many cities and towns were built next to waterfalls that turned water wheels to do work. Before the start of electricity generation, houses were lit by kerosene lamps, refrigerators were used to keep food cold, and rooms were heated by stoves. Today’s “necessities” such as light bulbs, fans, air conditioners, and refrigerators stem from the ideas of inventors who lived more than 100 years ago. Many of us are familiar with Benjamin Franklin’s famous kite experiment and Thomas Edison’s light bulb, but there were many other inventors who contributed greatly to our modern uses of electricity. Some of these inventors simply tried to improve on old ideas and others saw the need and let their curiosity run wild with each experiment until they discovered something new. Each invention paved the way for the next.

In the mid-1600s, Otto von Guericke, a German physicist, began experimenting with the generation of electricity. In 1670 he invented the first machine to produce electricity in large quantities using a ball of sulfur which he spun and held his hand against the ball, charging it with electricity. Others, such as Isaac Newton, later used this machine by using a glass ball instead of sulfur, and then a cylinder, and then a glass plate.

In 1747 Benjamin Franklin began experimenting with electricity and proposed the notion of positive and negative charge. He performed his famous kite experiment to prove that lightning was a form of electrical discharge in 1752. During a storm he flew a kite with a stiff upward-pointing cable attached to the top of the kite and a key tied to the other end of the rope. , and let it hang near a jar. The rope got wet from the rain and caused sparks to fly from the key to the jar until the jar could not take any more loads. This experiment proved that electricity and lightning are one and the same, and that spiked rods conduct electricity better than balls, leading to Franklin’s invention of the lightning rod. From this experiment, the principles of electricity were gradually understood.

In 1800 an Italian professor, Alessandro Volta, invented the voltaic cell which is now called an electric battery. He made a stack of zinc discs, acid or paper wet with salt and copper, and when he touched both ends he got a shock. The vault is named Volta. Another, who in the first half of the 1800s contributed greatly to our modern uses of electricity, was Michael Faraday. He conducted experiments on electricity and magnetism that led to modern inventions such as the motor, the generator, the telegraph, and the telephone. In 1831 he experimented with induction and discovered a way to generate a lot of electricity at once. We use his principle of electromagnetic induction to generate electricity today in electric utility plants.

In the mid-1800s, the invention of the electric light bulb changed everyone’s lives. This invention used electricity to bring indoor lighting to our homes. Thomas Edison, an American inventor, did not invent the light bulb, but instead improved on a 50-year-old idea and invented an incandescent light bulb. Many people before him had developed forms of electric lighting, but none of them were practical for domestic use. In 1879, after experimenting for a year and a half, he used lower current electricity, a filament of carbonized sewing thread, and an improved vacuum inside the globe to produce a practical, electric light bulb. Edison demonstrated his incandescent lighting system to the public while electrically lighting the Menlo Park laboratory complex. He realized the need for an electrical distribution system to provide power for lighting and in 1882 the first commercial incandescent electric generating station provided light and electrical power to customers in an area of ​​one square mile in New York City. This was the beginning of the electric age, as the industry was evolving from carbon arc and gas and electric commercial and public lighting systems. By the late 1880s, the demand for electric motors brought industry into 24-hour service, and the demand for electricity for transportation and industrial needs increased dramatically. Many American cities now had small central stations, but each was limited to an area of ​​only a few blocks due to direct current (DC) transmission inefficiencies. As electricity spread around the world, Edison’s various electric companies continued to expand until they merged to form Edison General Electric in 1889. Three years later Edison General Electric merged with his main competitor Thompson-Houston and the company became simply General Electric.

One of Thomas Edison’s main rivals was George Westinghouse Jr., a pioneer in the electrical industry. In 1886 he founded the Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company to devote himself to alternating current (AC) technology. An AC power system allowed voltages to be “stepped up” through a transformer for distribution, which reduced power losses, and then “stepped down” through a transformer for consumer use. He thought that Edison’s power grid based on low-voltage direct current was too inefficient to be scaled to a large size. In 1885 Westinghouse purchased power transformers developed by Lucien Gaulard and John Dixon Gibbs. Transformers were not a new invention, but this design was one of the first that could handle large amounts of power while still being easily manufactured. Using these transformers and a Siemens alternating current generator, he began experimenting with alternating current networks. Westinghouse worked to perfect the transformer design and build a practical alternating current power grid with the help of William Stanley and Franklin Leonard Pope. In 1886 Westinghouse and Stanley installed the first multiple voltage alternating current electrical system. The network was driven by a hydroelectric generator that produced 500 volts. The voltage was increased to 3,000 volts for distribution and then reduced to 100 volts to power electric lights. This device made it possible to extend electric service over a wide area and allowed the availability of alternating current at different voltages, forming the basis of modern electric power distribution. Over the next year, 30 more AC lighting systems were installed, but the method was limited because they lacked an efficient metering system and an AC electric motor. In 1888, Westinghouse and his engineer Oliver Shallenberger created a power meter that would be more effective, and the same basic meter technology remains in use today.

Nikola Tesla was one of the most important contributors to the birth of commercial electricity. He was originally an employee of Thomas Edison and invented a system that transmitted alternating current, as opposed to Edison’s direct current system. Edison objected to Tesla’s idea, so Tesla established his own laboratory and announced his invention of the first practical alternating current induction motor and polyphase power transmission system in 1888. The polyphase system would allow the transmission of alternating current electricity over long distances. Westinghouse asked Nikola Tesla to join his electric company where Tesla continued his work on the alternating current induction motor and Westinghouse acquired the exclusive rights to Tesla’s polyphase system patent. All of our electric motors currently operate on the principles established by Tesla, such as the motor that produces the high frequency signals used in radios and televisions. It also set the standard for the transmission current frequency, 60 hertz, that we still operate today.

Westinghouse and Edison clashed over the distribution of alternating current and direct current power. Edison only used direct current because he thought alternating current was dangerous, but Westinghouse thought the risks could be controlled and the advantages outweighed them. Even General Electric switched to alternating current. In 1893, the Westinghouse Company won the contract to establish an alternating current grid to light the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and later to establish the first long-range electric grid using three giant alternating current generators to harness the energy of Niagara Falls into electricity. power for distribution 25 miles away.

Now, more than 100 years later, think about how much we use and depend on electricity every day to meet what we consider to be our “basic needs” such as alarm clocks, traffic lights, computers and televisions. When we enter a dark room and turn on the light switch, we expect instant light. It’s interesting to think that this was just a daydream and that it took many inventors to make it a reality.

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