Dynamos are a power source that you may be able to use in your home to save on conventional electricity. But what is a dynamo and what can it be used for?
A dynamo is a device that converts the energy of motion into an electric current. In other words, it converts physical energy such as water turning a wheel into electrical energy. It is also known as a generator. A dynamo means a generator that produces direct current with the use of a commutator.
The dynamo uses rotating coils of wire and magnetic fields to convert mechanical rotation (physical movement and energy) into a pulsing direct electric current. It is made up of a stationary structure that provides a constant magnetic field and a set of rotating windings called the armature which turn within that field. Smaller dynamos use permanent magnets to create the magnetic field while larger machines use one or more electromagnets, usually called field coils.
The commutator is necessary to produce the direct current. In the early days of electricity, when the dynamo was first invented, there was little need for alternating current. In fact, dynamos were first invented as a replacement for batteries. When a loop of wire rotates in a magnetic field, the potential induced in it reduces with each half turn, generating an alternating current. The commutator is a set of contacts that is mounted on the shaft of the machine, reversing the connection of the windings to the external circuit when the potential reverses, creating a pulsing direct current instead of alternating current.
Dynamos, in modern usage, are used on a smaller scale, usually with the energy provided by a person in some way. For example, torches that use dynamos produce light by shaking or otherwise moving the torch on a regular basis. On a bicycle, a hub dynamo is a small electrical generator that has been built into the hub of a bicycle wheel in order to power the bicycle’s lights. Dynamos may be used to power all sorts of power hungry gadgets such as mobile phones and so forth. They are also used in wind up radios, and in self-winding watches.
One area that could benefit greatly from dynamos is the area of prosthetics. The new development in these means that new power sources have to be found in order to meet their increasing power requirements. Dynamos are perfect as they generate power just by movement, eliminating the need for costly batteries that need to be replaced or conventionally recharged.
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