An electric generator is a piece of equipment that is designed to covert mechanical energy into electrical energy. Mechanical energy is the motion or movement of an object or machine. An electric generator does not create the electricity but simply forces the mechanical energy to flow through an external electrical circuit. Power stations use fuels such as gas, coal, oil or water and wind to drive large turbines to create mechanical energy. The steam created by burning fossil fuels is channeled to turn the turbines. Both water and wind are used directly to spin the turbines. These turbines are connected to electric generators which convert the mechanical energy into electrical energy by forcing it into a power grid. How do electric generators do this? Read on to find out.
How does an electric generator work?
An electric generator works to create energy because of the generator effect. This means that when motion is forced into a magnetic field it creates electricity. A generator has a number of parts. It contains a permanent magnet at each end with opposite poles. Between these magnets there is a coil of copper wire. This copper wire is spun using the mechanical energy from the turbine. As the coil spins it changes the magnetic field inside the generator creating an alternating current. When this generator is connected to an electrical circuit, and creates a closed circuit, the alternating current can be used to power electrical appliances.