How Is Electricity Generated?

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Electricity is generated by introducing conducting wire, usually copper or aluminum, to a magnetic field. Learn more about how electricity is generated from a math and science teacher in this free video on electricity.

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Video Transcript

Hello I'm Steve Jones and I'm going to look at how electricity is generated. Now in the past they knew for hundreds and even thousands of years what static electricity, electricity from lightening for example which as a result of static electricity. And magnetism was a feature of navigation for hundreds of years using permanent magnets. But by using these permanent magnets we can actually create what we call current electricity. A flow of electricity. It's a very simple thing. Between the north and south poles of a magnet there is a magnetic field and we draw it with arrows going north to south. This is a magnetic field. Now if I introduce across there a piece of conducting wire, say copper or aluminum usually in big machines it's aluminum but commonly also it's copper, and if I move this piece of wire through the magnetic field what I find is that I get an electric current generated in that piece of wire. And all I have to do is connect the ends of the piece of wire together through my machine and the machine will work. Now it's not quite as simple as that because obviously something has to move this piece of wire. And normally therefore when I'm out to generate electricity I have to have something which will make this wire move. Now if I have a big permanent magnet obviously this is not a very good thing if I want to have a big generator because these would have to be huge magnets. And in fact these magnets can also be magnets which are made themselves from a flow of electric current. So they are, can also be electro magnets and this type of machine, a generator, usually has electro magnets and this rotating clove which we call an armature. So all generators contain two elements. They contain electro magnets which we call field magnets and they contain an armature which is simply a set of coils of copper wire or aluminum wire which rotate through the magnetic field generating current.

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