# Please explain the working of an electric generator

shashank Saxena
13 Points
15 years ago

An electric generator

A electric motor is a device for transforming electrical energy into mechanical energy; an electric generator does the reverse, using mechanical energy to generate electricity. At the heart of both motors and generators is a wire coil in a magnetic field. In fact, the same device can be used as a motor or a generator.

When the device is used as a motor, a current is passed through the coil. The interaction of the magnetic field with the current causes the coil to spin. To use the device as a generator, the coil can be spun, inducing a current in the coil.
An AC (alternating current) generator utilizes Faraday's law of induction, spinning a coil at a constant rate in a magnetic field to induce an oscillating emf. The coil area and the magnetic field are kept constant, so, by Faraday's law, the induced emf is given by:

If the loop spins at a constant rate,  . Using calculus, and taking the derivative of the cosine to get a sine (as well as bringing out a factor of  ), it's easy to show that the emf can be expressed as:

The combination  represents the maximum value of the generated voltage (i.e., emf) and can be shortened to   . This reduces the expression for the emf to:

In other words, a coil of wire spun in a magnetic field at a constant rate will produce AC electricity. In North America, AC electricity from a wall socket has a frequency of 60 Hz.

A coil turning in a magnetic field can also be used to generate DC power. A DC generator uses the same kind of split-ring commutator used in a DC motor. Unlike the AC generator, the polarity of the voltage generated by a DC generator is always the same. In a very simple DC generator with a single rotating loop, the voltage level would constantly fluctuate. The voltage from many loops (out of synch with each other) is usually added together to obtain a relatively steady voltage.

Rather than using a spinning coil in a constant magnetic field, another way to utilize electromagnetic induction is to keep the coil stationary and to spin permanent magnets (providing the magnetic field and flux) around the coil. A good example of this is the way power is generated, such as at a hydro-electric power plant. The energy of falling water is used to spin permanent magnets around a fixed loop, producing AC power.