A brief history of Transformers (not robots)

I all the time Don’t like exaggerated claims about upcoming scientific and technological breakthroughs, akin to low cost nuclear fusion, low cost supersonic flight, and the formation of different planets. But I like easy units very a lot, they’ll full many primary duties of trendy civilization, particularly those who work modestly and even invisibly.

Nothing explains this higher than a transformer. Non-engineers could also be vaguely conscious of the existence of such units, however they have no idea how they work and the way indispensable they’re in every day life. (A transformer is a tool that transfers present between two circuits whereas altering the voltage (that’s, the “pressure” of the present energy).)

The principle is predicated on the impartial discovery of electromagnetic induction by Michael Faraday and Joseph Henry within the early 1830s. They confirmed {that a} altering magnetic area induces a better voltage (known as “boost”) or a decrease voltage (“buck”) present. But it took one other half a century for Lucien Gaulard, John Dixon Gibbs, Charles Brush and Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti to design the primary helpful transformer prototype. Next, the Hungarian engineers Ottó Bláthy, Miksa Déri and Károly Zipernowsky improved the design by making a toroidal (doughnut-shaped) transformer, which they exhibited in 1885.

In the second yr, a greater design was launched by three American engineers. They have been William Stanley who labored at George Westinghouse, Albert Schmid and Oliver. ·B·Shallenberger (Oliver B. Shallenberger). The tools quickly adopted the shape of the basic Stanley transformer, which has been retained since then: a central iron core made of skinny silicon metal sheets, one half of which is formed like an “E”, and the opposite half is formed like an “I”, To make it simple to make use of. Slide the wound copper coil into place.

When Stanley addressed the American Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1912, he marveled at how the machine offered “such a complete and simple solution” to tough issues. Therefore, this casts a shadow over all mechanical adjustment makes an attempt. In this simple, deterministic and economical manner, it handles the massive quantity of vitality instantly offered to or derived from it. It is so dependable, highly effective and sure. In this case the place metal and copper are blended collectively, the extraordinary energy is nicely balanced, in order that it will probably hardly be suspected. “

This durable design is the largest modern body, making it possible to transport electricity across distances. In 2018, Siemens delivered the first of seven record-breaking 1,100 kV transformers, which will enable several Chinese provinces connected to nearly 3,300 kilometers of high-voltage DC lines to supply electricity.

Due to the explosive growth of portable electronic devices that must be charged, the number of transformers has exceeded Stanley’s imagination. In 2016, the global production of smartphones alone exceeded 1.8 billion, and each smartphone was supported by a charger equipped with a micro-transformer. You can see the heart of small devices without disassembling the mobile phone charger. The complete disassembly of the iPhone charger has been posted on the Internet, and the transformer is one of its largest components.

But many chargers even contain smaller transformers. These are non-Stanley (non-wire-wound) devices that utilize the piezoelectric effect (the ability of strained crystals to generate current and the ability to strain or deform the crystal). The sound waves hitting this crystal will produce electric current, and the electric current flowing through this crystal will produce sound. In this way, one current can be used to generate another current with a very different voltage.

The latest innovation is the electronic transformer. Compared with traditional devices, their size and quality are greatly reduced, and they will become particularly important for integrating intermittent power sources (wind and solar) into the grid and enabling DC microgrids. Without transformers, we will not have the era of ubiquitous electricity, but will fall into the era of oil lamps and telegraphs.


From Numbers don’t lie Written by Vaclav Smil and printed by Penguin Books, the e book is the model of Penguin Publishing Group (a subsidiary of Penguin Random Books Co., Ltd.). Vaclav Smil Copyright © 2020.


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