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Which Technology converts the electrical current

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Which Technology converts the electrical current

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Which Technology converts the electrical current
Which Technology converts the electrical current

A brief history of the science and technology of electrical power

The widespread incorporation of electricity into our society has meant not only a technological advance of the first magnitude but a true social revolution, with implications of all kinds in daily life: lighting, electrical appliances (washing machines, refrigerators, and television, the most decisive of this change, without forgetting others such as kitchens, microwaves, dryers, stereos, etc.), the communications revolution (mobile phone, computers, Internet,…). 

Likewise, it has drastically modified the production and manufacturing processes of industrial and consumer goods. It is impossible to conceive of the transport industry without the electrification and automation of vehicle factories of all kinds: cars, trains, planes,… in fact,

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The widespread use of electrical energy arose in the most advanced countries in the world during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries from a combination of feedback between the science that conceived the laws that govern electromagnetism, the science on which it is based, and the technology that put its principles into practice. 

In this article, I will review the scientific and technological origins of electrical energy. Which technology converts the electrical current?

Which Technology converts the electrical current

See Are technology improvements contractionary?

1. The scientific pioneers

Although the origins of knowledge about electricity date back to several centuries before Christ, I will focus my review on the 19th century, when the scientific foundations for the operation of today’s power plants were laid. I recommend this article to the reader interested in a broader review of this issue.

After the decisive advances in the understanding of electrical and magnetic phenomena carried out during the second half of the eighteenth century and the first third of the nineteenth, due to Volta, Coulomb, Oersted, Ampere, Ohm, and other scientists, the true and decisive discovery for obtaining electrical energy occurred in 1831, when Michael Faraday (1791-1867) invented a device that generated electricity from a mechanical movement, applying a concept known since then as electromagnetic induction.

The figure below shows Faraday’s original experiment and illustrates the idea: A battery (right of schematic image) supplies electric current, which flows through a small loop  A, creating a magnetic field. 

The loop can be inserted into another with a larger diameter B. When turns A and B do not move, no current is induced in B, and the measuring device G, located on the left of the diagram, does not detect current flow.

 But when loop A moves into or out of loop B, the magnetic flux through the larger loop changes, inducing a current that is detected by the measurement device G

As I explained in this article, this is the basis of the operation of a power plant, where the mechanical energy that moves the loop is transformed into electrical energy.

All scientific knowledge about electromagnetism crystallized in 1873, when James C. Maxwell (1831-1879) formulated four equations with which all electromagnetic phenomena are explained and which, in his honor, are known as Maxwell’s equations.

 Regarding the object of this article, the role of Maxwell was not decisive, but it is not possible to write a historical review of this branch of knowledge without mentioning him. Which technology converts the electrical current?

Which Technology converts the electrical current

2. First industrial developments

The first to use Faraday’s idea in a practical way was Thomas A. Edison (1847-1931), who in 1878 developed and marketed a direct current electric power generator to power a lighting system. 

The use of direct current forced its generation to be carried out in the same place where it was going to be consumed since Edison did not know how to transform the voltages, a key issue since the voltage used for any electrical system is essential.

 Increasing the voltage reduces the current so the resistive losses of the wires that carry the current are reduced, known as the Joule effect, as I described in the article mentioned.

Shortly thereafter, Edison played a decisive role in the use and generalization of electrical energy, thanks to his most famous invention, the filament lamp. 

On October 21, 1879, he managed to make a light bulb shine for 48 hours uninterrupted. Immediately after, in 1880, Edison made the first commercial installation of it for the ship Columbia. 

This installation with 115 bulbs, was operated without problems for 15 years.

However, the use of direct current was displaced by the alternating current system developed by Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) and George Westinghouse(1846-1914). Indeed, practically simultaneously, Nikola Tesla, a scientist of unparalleled talent and inventiveness, devised a system for generating electricity different from Edison’s, using alternating current instead of direct current. 

Tesla realized that by doubling the voltage, the current was divided by two, reducing the resistive losses of the cables, which I have also detailed in the article mentioned above. 

The key is that only with alternating current is it possible to transform the voltage of a given transmission line up or down at any point along the route. 

This allowed the use of high voltages for efficient distribution with low losses and lower voltages (less dangerous, therefore),

Tesla developed all the theoretical parts of his system and patented his ideas in 1887, by means of 30 different patents and demonstrated the potentialities of his invention at the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893.

The following figure shows one of those patents for a complete system production and distribution of electrical energy using alternating current:

In 1880, George Westinghouse noticed Tesla’s work. Westinghouse had a patent for a voltage transformer that could work with high voltage values ​​and was simple to build and therefore easy to use in a generation and transmission system like the one devised by Tesla. 

Westinghouse’s system could be used to power lights and heaters, but it lacked the heart of the system: an AC generator. 

Thanks to Tesla and his patents, Westinghouse founded Westinghouse Electric and built the famous Adams hydroelectric plant in 1895.in Niagara Falls, with 3 Tesla generators of 3.7 MW, which supplied energy to the city of Buffalo, located about 35 kilometers away. This plant was the first in the world in its category.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the use of electrical energy has become widespread in public lighting; In later years, with the advent of household appliances, communications, etc., daily life has been substantially modified, so that, together with oil, they can be considered the true fuels of the contemporary world. Which technology converts the electrical current?

Which Technology converts the electrical current

3. Conclusions

The history of the transition from the scientific ideas of Oersted, Ampere, Faraday, etc., to their practical application by the hand of Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse and others demonstrate, once again, that scientific findings have no repercussions. immediate in society. 

Throughout this article we have seen that Faraday demonstrated the principles of the law that bears his name in 1831 and the first power plant that used it commercially did so in 1878; that is, it took nearly 50 years for this technology to reach a viable commercial status.

Regarding the skepticism that the practical application of scientific principles tends to generate, the following anecdote is told: in the spring of 1855, Faraday, who had great recognition and social prestige, dedicated himself to giving lectures explaining his discoveries about electricity and magnetism. 

In one of those talks, William Gladstone, the future Prime Minister of Queen Victoria I’s government, was in the audience. At the end of the talk, Gladstone told him:  “This is all very nice, but will we ever find a practical application for it?” ?”, to which Faraday replied,  “Don’t worry, one day the government will tax this idea.”

If no one had valued Faraday’s work and no one had begun to develop his ideas, as Edison or Tesla did later, today we would continue to light our nights with candles.

Which Technology converts the electrical current

See When Technology was Invented: Untold Evolutions and History

Which Technology converts the electrical current

Electric power generation: Forms of energy

Energy is the ability of matter to produce work in the form of movement, light, heat, etc. In other words, it is a property of bodies that allows them to make changes or work in the environment. 

There are many forms of energy

  • Electrical energy is produced in electrical circuits (batteries, batteries, dynamos,…)
  • Thermal energy comes from heat (gas, coal, gasoline, …)
  • Chemical energy is produced in chemical reactions
  • Nuclear energy is produced by the disintegration or fusion of the nucleus of atoms.
  • Solar energy comes from the sun (solar radiation that is converted into light and heat)
  • Kinetic energy is present in bodies that are in motion.
  • Potential energy is the energy that a body stores and transforms into another
  • Mechanical energy is the sum of kinetic energy and potential energy.
  • Wind energy is the kinetic energy associated with the wind.
  • Hydraulic energy is the kinetic energy associated with water currents
  • Luminous energy, the energy associated with light
  • Photovoltaic energy, electrical energy from light energy
  • Geothermal energy, thermal energy from the heat of the Earth
  • Tidal power, energy coming from the tides
  • Hydroelectric power, the electrical energy produced by waterfalls
  • Biomass energy is the use of organic matter to produce heat by direct combustion or by transforming that matter into other fuels, such as alcohol, methanol, or oil.
  • …….

Different forms of energy can be transformed into each other:

For example the energy from wind turbines.

The electrical energy produced by wind turbines comes from the wind ( kinetic energy ), the wind is produced by the heat of the Sun ( radiant energy ) and the energy of the Sun comes from the nuclear energy of the fusion reactions that take place inside it when converting hydrogen into helium.

Which Technology converts the electrical current

Production and transportation of electrical energy

The electricity that reaches our homes originates in power plants,  in the case of the Canary Islands they come from two main types of sources:

  • Thermal power plants, where diesel, natural gas, and fuel oil are burned, therefore they use non-renewable energies, which pollute the environment.

In Gran Canaria, there are two thermal power plants, one in the Tirajana ravine (power 461 MW) and another in Jinámar (power 415 MW)

  • Wind power plants, made up of multiple wind turbines, use the wind as a renewable energy source and do not produce any pollutants.
  • There are also small photovoltaic installations, of low production, they are used in buildings, schools, and companies,…

Once the electrical energy is produced, the voltage is raised with transformers to values ​​above 100,000 volts to be distributed by the high-voltage lines throughout the territory.

Upon reaching the towns, the voltage is lowered again to values ​​of 330 and 220 volts to be used in houses, shops, and offices,…

Which Technology converts the electrical current

see Benefits of Technology In Life

Risks of electrical current
Which Technology converts the electrical current

Risks of electrical current

Misuse of electrical current can cause

  • Electrocution, the human body supports very little current, we must be very careful with the electric current
    • unplug appliances before handling them
    • lower the lever to change light bulbs or repair any installation
    • wear rubber-soled gloves and boots to handle electrical cables and appliances
    • prevent water or humidity from coming into contact with any device (dry devices and hands well)
    • do not use water to put out fires where electrical voltage may be present.
  • Fires due to electrical overload, when many devices are plugged into the same point we can exceed the maximum power allowed, in this case, the cables heat up and can catch fire
  • Fires due to short circuits occur if there are poorly insulated cables that come into contact, at that moment the lever jumps, but a spark is also produced that can cause a fire

Which Technology converts the electrical current

Electric energy and the environment

  • Thermal power plants: due to the burning of fossil fuels, such as coal or oil, CO2 emissions are generated that cause global warming due to the greenhouse effect, sulfur and nitrogen are also emitted that cause acid rain, destroying vegetation.
  • Nuclear energy: nuclear power plants have the problem that they produce radioactive waste that remains active for thousands of years, in addition to being highly polluting and difficult and expensive to treat.

Which technology converts the electrical current?

Less polluting alternatives

  • Solar energy, coming from the Sun, is used in solar thermal power plants and photovoltaic installations.
  • Wind energy, coming from the wind, is used in wind farms
  • Hydraulic or hydroelectric energy is derived from water currents or natural waterfalls. It is also used in large installations from artificial dams.
  • Geothermal energy arises from the use of the internal and natural heat of the Earth.
  • Tidal energy results from the movement of water in the rise and fall of the tides.

Which Technology converts the electrical current

These are the 8 main technologies that make an electric car work.
Which Technology converts the electrical current

These are the 8 main technologies that make an electric car work.

Electric cars are simpler in terms of mechanics than combustion cars: there are eight key technological components for their operation. This is what each one is for

Just as in a combustion engine, all its parts must work at the same time so that everything runs smoothly, in an electric vehicle there are a series of technologies that must complement each other. 

Although both propulsion systems work the same once the power reaches the wheels, the mechanical elements are completely different to make that happen. 

When looking to purchase an electric car, it is essential to know the names of the mechanical components and the language in which their characteristics are described.

Below is a simple analysis of each of the eight technologies that make an electric car work. All of them are essential since they are the basis of what will later appear in the characteristics and benefits sheet of the dealer.

Which Technology converts the electrical current

Battery

For now, most electric cars on the market use lithium-ion batteries. There are several different configurations depending on the shape of each cell: cylindrical, bag-type, prismatic.

 And there are also different chemistries particularly when it comes to cathode materials. In this case, most are rich in nickel, known as NCM by the acronym of its components: nickel, cobalt, and manganese. 

Waiting for superior technology, such as solid electrolyte batteries, lithium ferrophosphate batteries have recently proliferated in cheaper electric cars. (LFP). These are cheaper batteries, without cobalt in their composition, but they offer lower energy density.

Individual cells are combined to create battery modules, and groups of modules are packaged together to form a complete battery. I

n total, there could be hundreds or thousands of individual cells in each of them, depending on the voltage that each one contributes.

Typical full voltage is in the 300 to the 400-volt range. Lithium-ion batteries require careful monitoring of the temperature and voltage of each cell and must be continually balanced to prevent performance degradation and shortened lifespan. 

The size of a package is given by the amount of energy, measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh), that it can contain. Currently, the capacity of typical battery packs is in the range of 50 to 150 kWh. 

The higher this figure, in general, the more autonomy it will offer, although the rest of the components of the electric vehicle also influence the efficiency with which this energy is used.

To manage its temperature, there are manufacturers that include a cooling system that uses the air that circulates around it (forced or not forced) and there are others that implement a more complex liquid cooling system.

Battery packs are extremely heavy depending on their size. They can easily reach weights of 400 and 500 kilograms. 

The most common is that they are placed under the floor of the vehicle, to reduce the height of the vehicle’s center of gravity, which makes electric cars offer good behavior on the road.

Which Technology converts the electrical current

Battery Management System (BMS)

A battery pack requires close monitoring of the temperature and voltage of each cell. The BMS ( Battery Management System or Battery Management System) is responsible for this. It is a fundamental system for the safety of electric cars.

 Its work is not only essential but also very complex, since it must follow the evolution of several parameters in each and every one of the cells that the battery contains.

During charging, the BMS makes sure that the cells have the same voltage level (usually within 0.01 volts). Without the BMS, the cells could be overloaded to a level where there could be a danger of fire or explosion. 

Without it, some of the cells could reduce their performance, forcing the rest of the cells in the module to drain too quickly.

Which Technology converts the electrical current

Which Technology converts the electrical current
Which Technology converts the electrical current

Direct current converter (DC to DC)

The high-voltage battery does the heavy lifting in an electric vehicle, which is to power it for propulsion. However, most of an electric vehicle’s electrical system is powered by a 12-volt lead-acid battery, similar to the battery you start a combustion vehicle with.

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This 12-volt system powers the lights, horn, HVAC fans, and most of the computer systems that control the electrical drive. 

DC to DC converter takes some of the power from the traction battery and converts it to 12 volts to keep it charged and run all those systems. 

In some electric vehicles, the traction battery also powers the climate control system, harnessing available power to quickly make the cabin more comfortable.

Which Technology converts the electrical current

The controller

The controller of an electric vehicle is a microprocessor that receives the driver’s commands, which are generated by the accelerator or brake pedal, and converts them into signals that are transmitted (usually along a CAN/BUS communications line) to the power electronics located in the inverter to provide power to the motor. 

In many ways, the controller acts like an electronic brain, accepting requests from the driver and determining how the motor responds. 

For this reason, its programming is essential because it depends on how the vehicle responds to each driving situation.

Which Technology converts the electrical current

Inverter and power electronics

Currently, in many cases,  brushless electric motors or brushless motors are used, which are actually synchronous alternating current motors with permanent magnets that imitate the operation of these direct current motors of the first electric vehicles. 

Before the development of power electronics, these DC motors were used with brushes that received energy from the battery once adequate by the controller and were widely used for applications that required speed changes.

The alternating current that feeds them is produced by the inverter, which is responsible for taking the direct current from the battery and converting it into alternating current and providing it to the motor. 

The frequency of the alternating current determines the speed at which the motor rotates. 

The inverter has a position sensor on the motor that allows it to synchronize its current pulses to keep the motor turning and producing the torque needed to move the vehicle. 

The drive takes the commands from the controller and converts them into signals for the motor. 

This device uses high-level power electronics, capable of providing the voltage and amperage required by the motor at all times. The more robust the inverter, the more efficient and reliable your electric vehicle will be.

Which Technology converts the electrical current

The traction engine

Permanent magnet synchronous motors are currently the most used by the industry. This is a highly efficient motor that operates at a higher speed than the brushed DC motor used in the original electric vehicles. 

A typical motor of this type is made up of a stator and a rotor. This contains four to eight permanent magnets and it rotates in the center section of the motor. 

The outer stator is surrounded by a series of electrical coils that form the commutator. 

The inverter provides energy to the coils in such a way that they become electromagnets that oppose the magnetism of the permanent magnets, producing the movement that, when correctly synchronized, turns the motor. 

The permanent magnets that are used are often made from rare earth chemical elements such as niobium or neodymium.

Because electric motors produce their maximum torque from 0 rpm, a gearbox is not normally required, instead, either a direct drive or a gear reduction system is used. 

The engine configuration is very varied. Some electric vehicles use a single motor, which powers either the front or rear wheels.

 Others use a pair of motors, one at the front and one at the rear to create all-wheel drive and provide torque vectoring so that each wheel turns at a different speed as required by the road layout.

Occasionally three motors are employed, two driving the rear wheels and one driving both front wheels. It is also possible to implement motors in the wheels, up to a total of four, which increases their efficiency and the torque that is transmitted.

Engine cooling is achieved by using air that is collected from outside or by a liquid cooling system. The more power the engine produces, measured in kW, the more performance it will provide, as long as the cooling system is capable of keeping the engine temperature under control.

Which Technology converts the electrical current

Regenerative braking

To increase the efficiency of electric vehicles, it is possible to recover the energy from braking and deceleration, which would normally be lost as heat. When a vehicle slows down, the engine can work as a generator, producing electricity while slowing the vehicle down. This energy is redirected to the battery, helping to slightly recharge it.

The regenerative braking power can be adjusted thanks to the controller that is able to achieve a significant reduction in speed without using the vehicle’s normal hydraulic brakes, even bringing it to a standstill. 

This electric braking is so aggressive that it allows driving with a single pedal, which does not require the use of the brake. In urban traffic, with constant speed changes and many braking phases, it is possible to add more than 20% to the autonomy of the vehicle. 

Which Technology converts the electrical current

On-board charger and recharge

Most electric vehicles have an onboard charger that connects to the mains to recover battery power at home, work, or public non-DC stations.

On-board chargers are limited in the amount of current they can provide. They can accept recharges of 2 kW of power, offered by a domestic installation, or 3.6 kW or 7.3 kW, if a special wall box is used for recharging. In these cases, we are dealing with single-phase alternating current installations. 

In the case of having a three-phase alternating current (normally in public installations), it is possible to reach 11 kW, 22 kW, and even 44 kW of charging power. The usual thing in electric vehicles is that they do not exceed 11 kW of maximum power.

When charging is carried out in the direct current, the onboard charger is bypassed, with the recharging post supplying the cable and connector and all the control electronics, since the charge is made directly to the battery. In these cases, charging powers ranging from 50 kW to 350 kW can be achieved.

Which Technology converts the electrical current

5 revolutionary inventions that can help produce energy in cities
Which Technology converts the electrical current

5 revolutionary inventions that can help produce energy in cities

Some scientists estimate that by the year 2050 two-thirds of the world’s population will be living in cities, so they are looking, together with some technology firms, for a way to generate renewable energy that emanates from the urban furniture that surrounds us. Is it something real?

If we take into account the new materials, inventions, and devices that are being developed, no one can say that this is an unattainable goal.

Whether they are economically feasible and whether they really are an alternative to existing power generators is quite another matter.
These are five revolutionary inventions that have already proven their effectiveness.

Which Technology converts the electrical current

Energy cement

Cement mixes made from power plant waste could be used to build, for example, battery-powered buildings.

This polymetric potassium composite concrete (KGP) is cheaper than common cement and can store electricity.

According to the researchers, a six-meter-high lamp post made of KGP and equipped with a small solar panel could contain enough energy to power itself overnight.

“We have shown that KGP cement mixes can be used to store and release electrical energy without the need to add anything that is costly or dangerous,” said Lancaster University professor Mohamed Saafi, who is leading the research.

Buildings made with KGP could be used in cities to meet their electrical demands.

Which Technology converts the electrical current

Windows made of solar panels

New materials are also helping make solar panels cheaper and more profitable.

Solar power is the most common renewable energy source in cities because the cost has fallen from $4 per watt a decade ago to $0.50 now.

In the UK, for example, more than one in three businesses already produce some of their own electricity, mostly using rooftop solar panels.

But the manufacture of silicon-based solar panels involves a large energy expenditure because it requires temperatures above 1,400ºC or higher and the silicon must be 99.9999% pure.

Now materials like perovskite have emerged that can make panels much thinner, cheaper, and work at much lower temperatures, says Nitin Padture, an engineering professor at Brown University in the United States.

Being partially transparent, they could also be used for windows.

The drawback is that most of them contain lead, a highly toxic metal, but one option suggested by Professor Padture and his team is to replace lead with titanium.
“Titanium is pretty common, but no one had thought of using it to replace lead in perovskite solar panels, ” he says.

“We are not looking to replace the silicon technology that exists right now, but to improve it.”

Which Technology converts the electrical current

Urban wind turbines

When it comes to wind, the other most common renewable energy source, conventional turbines don’t work well in areas with many buildings because wind directions vary so much.

But researchers Nicolas Orellana and Yaseen Noorani have created a spherical wind turbine to put an end to the problem. His O-Wind turbine, which has won the 2018 James Dyson Award in the UK, is a spherical device that spins when the wind hits it from any direction.

Another solution is provided by the Turkish firm Devici Tech. It is about using vertical wind turbines along the roads that can use the energy generated by the cars when driving.

The company assures that its Enlil turbines, already in the testing phase in Istanbul, can meet the energy needs of up to two houses and that they can also incorporate solar panels and seismic sensors.

But there are some inventions that, despite working, have proven not to be profitable at all.

Which Technology converts the electrical current

Photovoltaic roads

In France, for example, the engineering firm Colas was a pioneer in building photovoltaic roads. He installed several throughout the country as well as in parts of Japan and the United States.

The first construction was on a 1-kilometer, single-lane road in Normandy, in the northeast of the

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There are doubts about whether, in the case of photovoltaic roads, solar panels are really useful because, being horizontal instead of tilted towards the sun, they may not receive as many solar rays. Also, heavy traffic, snow, or mud can block them.

In 2014, a small 70-meter cycle path was built in Amsterdam for US$3 million. It produced 3,000-kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity in its first year, but for that money, 65 million kWh of electricity could have been purchased on the open market.

Which Technology converts the electrical current

Energy to movement

Another technology seeking to justify itself commercially is piezoelectricity. It is a type of energy that, when certain materials, such as quartz, are squeezed, flows through them.

Therefore, cars and trucks traveling along special road surfaces equipped with piezoelectric devices could generate power. Pedestrians could do the same on special pavements.

In 2009, the Israeli firm Innowattech experimented with energy-capturing highways, and now an American firm, Pyro-E, wants to test a similar technology on a small stretch of highway in Fresno, California.

But although these projects are technically feasible, they are currently expensive .country.

Some estimate that in the United States, one kilometer of the two-way street would require 13,000 piezoelectric devices, adding $400,000 to construction costs.

Even without considering manufacturing or installation costs, it would take approximately 12 years to recover this amount.

UK firm Pavegen has developed electricity-generating pavements that can produce two to four joules of energy with each step taken on them.

His flooring, which costs about $2,700 per square meter, has been installed in 200 locations around the world.

The number may be quite high, but solar panels were also expensive when they first hit the market.

“We believe that people, not just technology, will improve our cities,” says Laurence Kemball-Cook, founder and CEO of Pavegen.

The idea, they hope, is that people can also help create sustainable cities, with renewable energy.

The technology is there, now it’s time to lower costs.

Which Technology converts the electrical current

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