Generating electric current

Generating electric currentElectric current is a flow of electric charges (electrons). in a power station relies on a discovery made by Michael Faraday in 1831.

He had the idea that if you move a magnet close to a wire, it will make an electric current flow in the wire.

To test his idea, Faraday made a coil of wire by wrapping it round a paper cylinder. He then connected the two ends of the wire to a galvanometer (a galvanometer is a really sensitive voltmeter).  Then, he moved a bar magnet back and forth inside the cylinder.

Faraday experiment

He found that when the magnet moved, it generated a current in the circuit. Then, when the magnet stopped moving, the currentElectric current is a flow of electric charges (electrons). stopped.

Scientists call this electromagnetic inductionWhen a wire passes close to a magnet (through a magnetic field), an electric current is generated in the wire..

GeneratorsA machine that causes an electric current to flow in wires by taking energy as movement and transferring it to energy as moving charge. in power stations across the world rely on electromagnetic induction to generate electric current. TransformersA transformer is a device that can change the voltage associated with an electric current. One type of transformer decreases the voltage and so is called a 'step-down' transformer. A 'step up' transformer increases the voltage. - like those in substationsSubstations are an important part of the national grid. They contain transformers which increase or decrease the voltage of an electric current. Substations are very dangerous if you try to tamper with them or vandalise them. Do not enter a substation for any reason - it is against the law and you could be electrocuted. also rely on electromagnetic induction.

Find out more about transformers.


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