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Electricity Production

Do you know how electricity is made? Surprise! Surprise! It comes from magnets!

Michael Faraday in the early nineteenth century discovered “electromagnetic induction” - if he moved a magnet through a loop of wire, the wire would become electrified.

In 1882, Thomas Edison opened the first full-scale power plant in New York City. Edison’s electric generator was a bigger version of Faraday’s basic experiment – a big magnet rotates around a wire to produce an electric current.

Today’s power plants are bigger and controlled by computers, but the basic process is still the same as it was nearly 120 years ago.

Here’s how power plants make electricity:

Coal is mined and sent on trains and boats. The trains and boats deliver the coal to the power plant. The coal is burned to heat water to make steam. Inside the generator, the steam rotates a big fan called a turbine.

The spinning turbine rotates a big magnet around a length of wire, creating a magnetic field that electrifies the wire. The electric current flows through the wire and is pushed out through high-voltage transformers.

Alternate ways of making electricity are:

Some power plants burn natural gas instead of coal to make steam. A nuclear power plant splits apart uranium to release heat energy. A wind farm uses the wind to spin the blades of the turbine. A hydro power plant uses running or falling water to spin the turbine.

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