6 Things You Didn't Know About Electrical Engineering
One of the most important discoveries in electricity was made by Benjamin Franklin.
18:33 17 December 2021
In 1752, he noticed that a metal key would lose its charge as it touched a silk cloth. He then rubbed his knuckles on the same cloth and found that they also became electrically charged. This discovery led to his invention of electricity's first battery—a glass tube with metal foil at both ends.
Electrical engineering is a vast field and a very interesting one at that. It should be noted that many people do not actually know a lot about it and there are many things they might miss out on because they consider it too difficult. Out of the many things one could talk about in electrical engineering, here are six things you probably did not know about the subject.
Power electronics is the application of solid-state electronics to the control and conversion of electric power. It covers a wide range of technologies from simple switching circuits to microcontrollers and digital signal processors. Some Power Electronics services can be as small as a DIY project for kids, while others are as big as national projects like hydroelectric powerplants. From pumps to mobile phone chargers - this is a very large field.
Most engineers will come across this field as early as their freshman year. Power Electronics is used everywhere in our daily lives, and has revolutionized energy storage systems.
Generation of electricity is a process where electricity is produced from other forms of energy. This can be done through renewable or non-renewable resources. The most common way to generate electricity is through the use of a turbine, which is turned by steam, water, wind, or gas.
Rewewable sources are becoming more and more popular and account for almost one third of electricity generation in the United States. Some examples of renewable resources are solar, wind, and hydro power.
A microgrid is a small electricity grid that can operate independently of the larger grid. This means that a micro can generate its own electricity using local resources, store electricity in batteries, and distribute electricity in its area. A microgrid can operate when the larger grid is down for emergencies, in war times to avoid blackout, or simply because the electricity prices are too high.
Microgrids are becoming popular in rural areas because they will be able to generate electricity using renewable resources at a cheaper rate than what the main grid provides. They are also sometimes used for large factories, or very remote ones, that need to be sure they have all the needed electricity at their disposal - so they make it and supply it themselves. These small grids are sometimes connected to the main power line too, in which case it is possible to negotiate to sell an excess of the cheap electricity back into the national grid - and earn some money for it!
The First Lightbulb
The first electricity generating lightbulb was designed by Humphrey Davy in 1800. He used a simple circuit to power the bulb, but it did not provide much electricity so it would only last for around 2 minutes. It was not until Joseph Swan in 1860 that the modern electric lightbulb came into existence. His design lasted longer and distributed electricity more efficiently, thus allowing us to have electricity at home today.
Before lightbulbs people relied exclusively on candles, torches and oil lamps to light up dark places, and this created a huge difference in the quality of people's lives. The first electricifed street light was introduced in 1882 in London. In the mean time it has been proven that street lights have a great influence on the crime rate, especially in places like New York where it has reduced the crime rate by 30%!
Electric cars are cars that run on electricity instead of gasoline. They come in all shapes and sizes, from small city cars to large SUVs. Some of the first electric cars were built in the 1800s, but they did not become popular until the late 1900s when gas prices started to rise.
The main advantage of electric cars is that they do not produce any emissions, which is great for the environment. They also have a longer range than gas cars and can be plugged into the wall to recharge. The disadvantage of electric cars is that they can be expensive to buy and maintain, as well as concern about the pollution caused by the production of their batteries. The batteries themselves are made out of lithium and also have a limited lifetime, and after that the cars become unusable.
Units of Measurment
Electricity follows the Metric system, which has units of electricity that are based on factors of 10. For example, electricity is measured in Joules(J) and electricity flows at a rate of 1 ampere (A), or one coulomb per second (C/s).
In some cases electricity is given as Watts (W) but this only applies to a certain amount of electricity flowing over a certain period of time, whereas electricity can also be given as VoltAmps (VA) which is the same thing as watts but measures an equivalent value over a longer period of time. Electric resistance is measured in Ohms (Ω) which is the resistance to electricity flow.
The order of the units might seem confusing at first, but after a while it becomes second nature. Just remember that larger numbers are bigger and smaller numbers are smaller and you will be fine!
The field of electricity engineering is broad and can span many topics, but in this article you have read 6 things you might not have known about it. Whether you are interested in the history of electricity or how electricity has transformed people's lives for the better, these are some interesting facts to think about when considering a career in electrical engineering, or plain being interested in the topic itself.
From electrons to electric cars, the application of this subdivision of engineering is astounding and is rightfully considered one of the most interesting, but also one of the hardest to master.