Method 1: Static Electricity 3
Method 2: Electromagnetic Induction 3
Method 3: Nuclear Transformation 7
Section 2: Steam Turbines 8
Section 3: How does it work? 9
Fossil Fuel Power: 9
Section 4: Transformers 10
Section 5: Compare and Contrast 11
Environmental Impacts: 12
Economic Discussion: Cost 12
Conclusion and Recommendations: 13
Section 1: Methods in Electric Power Generation
There are many methods for creating electrical energy, but there are seven commonly used fundamental methods. Three of the most common are static electricity, electromagnetic induction, and nuclear transformation.
Method 1: Static Electricity
The first method, static electricity, is simply the physical separation and transport of charge. A static charge can be created in many ways. The most common way is through the triboelectric effect. The Triboelectric effect is the result of electrons being exchanged between materials on contact. Materials with weakly bound electrons lose them, while other materials without the charge gain them.
In the picture above, a static discharge is taking place. This happens when positively or negatively charged materials come in contact with an uncharged or oppositely charged material. In this case, the positively charged hand releases or discharges electrons to the uncharged door knob. The spark is created from the jump of electricity in this process. Another example of static electricity is a common lightning storm. Clouds in the sky brushing against each other build up a static charge and when the charge is big enough, the charge leaps toward the ground, creating the bolt of lightning you see during a thunderstorm.
Method 2: Electromagnetic Induction
The second method of creating electrical energy is electromagnetic induction. Electromagnetic induction is the process of transforming mechanical energy into electricity. The idea of electromagnetic induction is based off of the discovery by Michael Faraday in 1831, saying that if you move a wire through an electric field it produces a current. A magnet plays a very big role in this process. Magnetism is one of the phenomena by which materials exert attractive or repulsive forces on other materials. Magnets are made of nickel, iron, and cobalt. All materials are influenced by a magnetic field.
As a wire moves in a magnetic field, a force acts on the charges in the wire. The charges potential energy is increased in the wire, resulting in an increased potential difference increase. This is called EMF or electromotive force. EMF is the rate at which energy is drawn from a source that produces a flow of electricity in a circuit, and can be measured in volts. If current induces a magnetic field and motion in a field induces current, then as long as a wire is moving through a magnetic field, it will have current. This current creates a field. The force on the moving wire is in the opposite direction of the motion of the wire. The more you move the wire the greater the force in the opposite direction. This is called Lenz’s law, and it applies to all motors. When a motor starts, it begins to produce its own magnetic field, creating a current which opposes the current to the motor. Luckily, the opposing current is never strong enough to counteract the main current. This current counteracting is called Back EMF.
Above is the basic layout of a motor. As a current runs through the loop, it creates an interaction with a magnetic field, causing the loop to spin. The red squares to the far right of the picture show where a commutator would reverse to direction of the current every ½ turn to keep the loop turning.
Electromagnetic induction is used in generators. A generator is based on the same concept as an electric motor, just backwards. Instead of using electricity to produce mechanical energy, they use mechanical energy to produce electricity.