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Jump to navigation Jump to search This article is about electromagnetic power generation. The reverse conversion of electrical energy into mechanical energy is done by an electric motor, and motors and generators have many similarities. Many motors can be mechanically driven to generate electricity and frequently make acceptable manual generators. Electromagnetic generators fall into one of two broad categories, dynamos and alternators. The magnetic field producing component of an electrical machine. The magnetic field of the dynamo or alternator can be provided by either wire windings called field coils or permanent magnets. Armature: The power-producing component of an electrical machine.
In a generator, alternator, or dynamo the armature windings generate the electric current, which provides power to an external circuit. The armature can be on either the rotor or the stator, depending on the design, with the field coil or magnet on the other part. Before the connection between magnetism and electricity was discovered, electrostatic generators were invented. The Faraday disk was the first electric generator. When the disk was turned, this induced an electric current radially outward from the center toward the rim. The current flowed out through the sliding spring contact m, through the external circuit, and back into the center of the disk through the axle. It produced a small DC voltage.
This design was inefficient, due to self-cancelling counterflows of current in regions of the disk that were not under the influence of the magnetic field. While current was induced directly underneath the magnet, the current would circulate backwards in regions that were outside the influence of the magnetic field. This counterflow limited the power output to the pickup wires, and induced waste heating of the copper disc. Another disadvantage was that the output voltage was very low, due to the single current path through the magnetic flux.
Experimenters found that using multiple turns of wire in a coil could produce higher, more useful voltages. Since the output voltage is proportional to the number of turns, generators could be easily designed to produce any desired voltage by varying the number of turns. Independently of Faraday, the Hungarian Ányos Jedlik started experimenting in 1827 with the electromagnetic rotating devices which he called electromagnetic self-rotors. The commutator is located on the shaft below the spinning magnet.