How Magnets Produce Electricity 1954 US Navy Electromagnetism Primer

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NEW VERSION with improved video & sound:

Public domain film from the National Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and equalization.

US Navy training film MN-8016b

…Before the connection between magnetism and electricity was discovered, electrostatic generators were invented that used electrostatic principles. These generated very high voltages and low currents. They operated by using moving electrically charged belts, plates and disks to carry charge to a high potential electrode…

In 1827, Hungarian Anyos Jedlik started experimenting with electromagnetic rotating devices which he called electromagnetic self-rotors. In the prototype of the single-pole electric starter (finished between 1852 and 1854) both the stationary and the revolving parts were electromagnetic. He formulated the concept of the dynamo at least 6 years before Siemens and Wheatstone but didn’t patent it as he thought he wasn’t the first to realize this. In essence the concept is that instead of permanent magnets, two electromagnets opposite to each other induce the magnetic field around the rotor. It was also the discovery of the principle of self-excitation…

In the years of 1831–1832, Michael Faraday discovered the operating principle of electromagnetic generators. The principle, later called Faraday’s law, is that an electromotive force is generated in an electrical conductor that encircles a varying magnetic flux. He also built the first electromagnetic generator, called the Faraday disk, a type of homopolar generator, using a copper disc rotating between the poles of a horseshoe magnet. It produced a small DC voltage.

This design was inefficient due to self-cancelling counterflows of current in regions not under the influence of the magnetic field…

The dynamo was the first electrical generator capable of delivering power for industry. The dynamo uses electromagnetic principles to convert mechanical rotation into pulsed DC through the use of a commutator. The first dynamo was built by Hippolyte Pixii in 1832.

Through a series of accidental discoveries, the dynamo became the source of many later inventions, including the DC electric motor, the AC alternator, the AC synchronous motor, and the rotary converter.

A dynamo machine consists of a stationary structure, which provides a constant magnetic field, and a set of rotating windings which turn within that field. On small machines the constant magnetic field may be provided by one or more permanent magnets; larger machines have the constant magnetic field provided by one or more electromagnets, which are usually called field coils.

Large power generation dynamos are now rarely seen due to the now nearly universal use of alternating current for power distribution and solid state electronic AC to DC power conversion. But before the principles of AC were discovered, very large direct-current dynamos were the only means of power generation and distribution. Now power generation dynamos are mostly a curiosity…

Without a commutator, a dynamo becomes an alternator, which is a synchronous singly fed generator. When used to feed an electric power grid, an alternator must always operate at a constant speed that is precisely synchronized to the electrical frequency of the power grid. A DC generator can operate at any speed within mechanical limits, but always outputs direct current…

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