Q:

What generates electricity

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Quick Answer

While there are many different methods of generating electricity, most electricity that powers homes and businesses comes from electric turbines. These devices spin a magnetic core through copper wiring, creating a charge through magnetic induction. In many cases, the energy to turn the turbine comes from steam generated by coal, natural gas or nuclear fission. In more sustainable cases, moving water or wind turns the turbine and generates electricity.

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What generates electricity
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Full Answer

Michael Faraday discovered the principle of magnetic induction that makes electricity generation possible. As a magnetic field acts on copper wiring, it induces electrons to move through the wires. This generates an electric current. The vast majority of electricity generation methods use very similar turbines to actually generate the electricity, but the source of the energy that activates the turbine may be very different.

The one notable exception to this type of generation is photovoltaic generation. Solar panels use a specially treated layer of silicon that reacts to the ultraviolet rays in sunlight. When the sun's energy strikes the silicon, it causes electrons to flow from the top layer to the bottom layer, creating the beginnings of an electric current. These devices create electricity with no moving parts, which is one reason they have become popular among homeowners who want to reduce their energy costs.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why is electricity important?

    A:

    Electricity is important because it is versatile, controlled easily and is used in everyone's daily life. Without electricity, humans would have to use other forms of energy that are less efficient.

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  • Q:

    How was electricity discovered?

    A:

    Although knowledge about the existence of electricity existed as early as 600 B.C., it was not until 1600 that William Gilbert published "De magnete, Magneticisique Corporibus," or "On the Magnet" and coined the term "electrica." Before Gilbert, knowledge was limited to that of the magnetic charges of a loadstone and that rubbing an amber or a jet rod with wool caused particles to stick to the rod.

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  • Q:

    How does electricity work?

    A:

    Electricity is the flow of electrons through a conductor. Electricity is based on the principle that all matter has negatively and positively charged particles within its atoms.

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  • Q:

    How do you compare and contrast electricity and magnetism?

    A:

    Electricity and magnetism are intimately related and somewhat similar in that both are capable of attraction or repulsion at a distance, and electricity is the cause of magnetism. Specifically, magnetic fields always and only arise in response to an electric current, which is really just electrons in motion. According to Georgia State University, this can be a large current or tiny, such as electrons moving in their atomic orbitals.

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