The historical development of AC electricity and the scientific debate between Thomas Edison’s DC power system and Nikola Tesla’s AC power system
By: Avi Sharma (999817587)
The development of distributed power generations has an intriguing history, starting from the dispute between choosing between DC and AC for power distribution to the current applications of the two types of current. The first instance of an Alternating Current motor appeared in 1882, where Sabastian Ferranti, in conjunction with Lord Kelvin designed electronic devices that could be used to implement an AC power system, including electrical generators and transformers. Five years later, Ferranti designed the Deptford power station, which is today regarded as one of the first power plants to implement a high-voltage generation system.
Meanwhile, Michael Faraday’s discoveries in the field of electromagnetic induction inspired scientists to pursue the development of AC-powered applications. Nikola Tesla’s design of the AC induction motor was instrumental in kicking off the movement to adopt AC power to most electrical applications. This design was licensed by George Westinghouse, an enthusiastic entrepreneur who believed in the future of AC electricity, and he set out to prove that AC electricity was superior to DC for power distribution. At the time, he had a more powerful competitor in the power distribution market by the name of Thomas Alva Edison.
Edison was a brilliant inventor and businessman, who was credited with numerous inventions including the incandescent light bulb, electric power distribution, and the movie camera. He also notable founded General Electric, which is to this day one of the largest corporations in the world and remains heavily involved in the power industry. Towards the end of the 19th century, Edison was involved in a direct competition with Westinghouse in a competition that would come to define the applications of DC and AC electricity, known as the “War of currents”. Edison and his company had invested in DC powered technology for many years, and he often refused to investigate AC as a superior alternative for power distribution. Edison had even hired Tesla to work for his company in 1882, but Tesla found no opportunities to develop his ideas on AC technology while working for Edison. Instead, he was assigned to work on improving previous designs of DC motors, at which he excelled.
At this point, it would be useful to learn further details about alternating current (AC) and its differences from direct current (DC). The technologies presented in this report are connected to a number of concepts from the ECE221 course. A major point of this report is the differences between AC and DC generators. The basis for an AC generator is formed from Faraday’s law of electromagnetic induction, and DC generators are mentioned for comparison. The fundamental relationships between voltage, current, resistance and power must also be taken into consideration...