generator, in electricity, machine used to change mechanical energy into electrical energy. It operates on the principle of electromagnetic induction, discovered (1831) by Michael Faraday. When a conductor passes through a magnetic field, a voltage is induced across the ends of the conductor. The generator is simply a mechanical arrangement for moving the conductor and leading the current produced by the voltage to an external circuit, where it actuates devices that require electricity. In the simplest form of generator the conductor is an open coil of wire rotating between the poles of a permanent magnet. During a single rotation, one side of the coil passes through the magnetic field first in one direction and then in the other, so that the induced current is alternating current (AC), moving first in one direction, then in the other. Each end of the coil is attached to a separate metal slip ring that rotates with the coil. Brushes that rest on the slip rings are attached to the external circuit. Thus the current flows from the coil to the slip rings, then through the brushes to the external circuit. In order to obtain direct current (DC), i.e., current that flows in only one direction, a commutator is used in place of slip rings. The commutator is a single slip ring split into left and right halves that are insulated from each other and are attached to opposite ends of the coil. It allows current to leave the generator through the brushes in only one direction. This current pulsates, going from no flow to maximum flow and back again to no flow. A practical DC generator, with many coils and with many segments in the commutator, gives a steadier current. There are also several magnets in a practical generator. In any generator, the whole assembly carrying the coils is called the armature, or rotor, while the stationary parts constitute the stator. Except in the case of the magneto, which uses permanent magnets, AC and DC generators use electromagnets. Field current for the electromagnets is most often DC from an external source. The term dynamo is often used for the DC generator; the generator in automotive applications is usually a dynamo. An AC generator is called an alternator. To ease various construction problems, alternators have a stationary armature and rotating electromagnets. Most alternators produce a polyphase AC, a complex type of current that provides a smoother power flow than does simple AC. By far the greatest amount of electricity for industrial and civilian use comes from large AC generators driven by steam turbines.

Apparatus for converting a liquid to vapour. A boiler consists of a furnace in which fuel is burned, surfaces to transmit heat from the combustion products to the water (or other liquid), and a space where steam (or vapour) can form and collect. A conventional boiler burns a fossil fuel or waste fuel; a nuclear reactor may instead supply the heat. There are two types of conventional steam boiler. In a fire-tube boiler, the water surrounds the steel tubes through which hot gases from the furnace flow; easy to install and operate, fire-tube boilers are widely used to heat buildings and to provide power for factory processes, as well as in steam locomotives. In a water-tube boiler, the water is inside tubes, with the hot furnace gases circulating outside the tubes; water-tube boilers, which produce more and hotter steam, are used in ships and factories. The largest are found in the central-station power plants of public utilities; other large units are used in steel mills, paper mills, oil refineries, and chemical plants. Seealso steam engine.

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Alternating-current (AC) and direct-current (DC) generators (top and bottom, respectively). The elipsis

Machine that converts mechanical energy to electricity for transmission and distribution over power lines to domestic, commercial, and industrial customers. Generators also produce the electric power required for automobiles, aircraft, ships, and trains. The mechanical power for an electric generator is usually obtained from a rotating shaft and is equal to the shaft torque multiplied by the rotational, or angular, velocity (speed). The mechanical power may come from various sources: turbines powered by water, wind, steam, or gas; gasoline engines; or diesel engines.

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Generator may refer to:


In computing:

In popular culture:

  • A Generator in the anime Generator Gawl is a metal-organic hybrid organism with far greater powers than that of a human.

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