What is electricity?
Electrical energy is produced through a variety of processes which include solar power, wind energy, geothermal energy, nuclear power, fossil fuel burning, and hydroelectricity. Electricity is the energy type that has been standardized by humanity to provide power to our electronics and machines.
History of Electricity
The first discoveries of electricity were through animals, namely fish in the regions around Egypt in ancient times. The force was not yet known as electricity but it was believed that thunder provided protection for these fish by ancient inhabitants of the area. Static electricity was researched in the early 600 BC era by Greek philosophers and the discovery of what is called the Baghdad Battery emerged around the same time era by archaeologist in Mesopotamia. This leads critics to believe that some form of knowledge was possessed about electrical plating around that time.
Electricity would be left much undiscovered until the 1600s when a scientist by the name of William Gilbert conducted research into loadstones discovering electromagnetic properties. Benjamin Franklin, often mistakenly thought of as the founder of electricity, was the one who discovered that lightning was in fact made up of electricity which sparked an insight by the scientific community into investigating the benefits of this energy further. In 1752 Franklin’s famous kite flying experience came about when he had a key attached to the kite line during a thunderstorm and was shocked by lightning.
Bioelectricity was discovered in 1791 from a scientist by the name of Luigi Galvani. His researched proved that electrical currents pass through the human body and are used by nerve cells to influence the muscles of the body. Between the early 1800s and early 1900s the exploration in electric potential energy provided much of the insight into the electrical systems we use today to power our societies and civilizations.
Electricity generation takes place through a variety of ingenious methods today and is the backbone for the power infrastructure of our modern society. Without the use of electricity much of what we know today would not be possible from food storage, transportation, and entertainment. So how is electricity produced?
There are a variety of methods employed today which are used to generate electricity for our power grid. Currently turbine engines are the most commonly used method to produce electricity which is employed in a host of different types of power plants. Turbine engines are used in generating energy from nuclear, thermal, geothermal, hydroelectric, fossil fuel and wind power plants around the globe.
Reciprocating engines are also known as diesel engines and are used primarily as a backup power supply. These can be used in the event of an emergency where power grid connectivity is severed and a region is unable to connect to the main source of electricity.
Photovoltaic panels or PV panels are the technology used to capture solar power from radiant light emitted from the sun. Currently solar energy is captured through panels, cells or modules which contain silicon or a silicon like substance that lets off electrons when struck by the light photons transmitted by the sun. These systems collect an electric current to store a charge for consumption.
Electrical energy, also electric potential energy, is a form of stored energy or potential energy. Potential energy is measured in joules by the international system of units. Electric energy must be converted into an electrical current in order to be used in the power grid that supplies us with our energy needs. In this process electrical potential energy is acquired from a source of generation and is converted into an alternating current (AC) for distribution or direct current (DC) for storage.
An electrical current is the flow of electricity through a conducting system. Based on the system type an electric charge can be transmitted in two varying ways, an alternating current or direct current, which are used for different types of energy needs.
Alternating Current (AC)
In an alternating current system an electrical charge has the capability to flow in both directions with the charge reversing periodically. This system allows electricity to be distributed over a much larger range more efficiently. Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison were in a feud so to speak during the birth of electricity to determine which current type would take over the infrastructure backbone of the world. Inevitably Tesla’s support of the alternating current beat out the Edison support of direct current due to a number of different advantages for AC electricity.
Direct Current (DC)
In a direct current flow, an electric charge flows only in a single direction. This was the originally utilized by Thomas Edison however it was also speculated as being one of his downfalls for supporting this current type passionately. The primary reason why AC currents took favor over DC was because of the relative short distribution capability of the direct current system.
Electrical power is used today to supply the energy needs of our ever advancing technological society. Energy is one of the most essential sectors of work and government and is receiving increasing pressure to discover more efficient ways to cultivate energy for electrical power in a renewable and eco-friendly manner. Examples of electrical energy are all around us in the daily life of almost all humans. Everything from the food we eat, which is refrigerated and/or cooked using electricity, to the lighting in our shelters, is powered by electricity generated from varying sources of power plants.