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Development History of Hydroelectric Generator Ⅱ

May 6, 2020

Everyone knows that generators can be divided into direct current generators and alternating current generators. Alternators are currently widely used, as are hydro-generators. But in the early days, direct current generators occupied the entire market, so how did alternating current generators occupy the market? What is the connection of the hydroelectric generator here? This is about the battle between alternating current and direct current and the 5000 hp turbine generator at the Adams Power Station in Niagara Falls, USA.

Before introducing the Niagara Falls hydroelectric generator, we must start with a very important battle in the history of electrician development.


Edison is a well-known American inventor. He came from a poor family and has no formal school education. However, he earned nearly 1,300 invention patents in his life through his extraordinary intelligence and personal struggle. On October 21, 1879, he applied for a patent for the invention of a carbon filament incandescent lamp (No. 22898); in 1882, he established the Edison Electric Lamp Company to produce incandescent lamps and their powered direct current generators. A large thermal power plant sold more than 200,000 bulbs within 3 years, monopolizing the entire market. The direct current generators produced by Edison also sell well in the American continent.

In 1885, when Edison was in full swing, American Steinhouse was keenly aware of the alternating current power supply system that was just born. In 1885, Westinghouse purchased Gaulard and Gibbs patents for the alternating current lighting system and transformers filed in the United States on February 6, 1884 (US Patent No. N0.297924) . In 1886, Westinghouse and Stanley (W. Stanley, 1856-1927) used the transformer to boost the single-phase alternating current to 3000V in the Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and delivered it to 4000ft, and then stepped down to 500V. . Soon, Westinghouse manufactured and sold several alternating current lighting systems. In 1888, Westinghouse purchased the "electrician genius" Tesla's patent on the delivery of alternating current motors, and hired Tesla to work at Westinghouse, committed to developing alternating current motors and promoting the application of alternating current motors, and achieved success. The success of Westinghouse's development of alternating current has attracted the envy of Edison and other people who have been invincible. Edison, HP Brown (HPBrown) and other people have published articles in newspapers and publications, using the Afraid to publicize the danger of alternating current, claiming that "no living creature could survive in the vicinity of conductors carrying alternates current" Edison also issued a red book entitled "Beware" The leather booklet lists the so-called dangers of alternating current. He also published an article entitled "The Dangers of Electric Lights" in the North American Weekly, attacking the use of alternating current and attempting to suffocate the alternating current in his baby. Facing the attack from Edison and others, Westinghouse and others also wrote articles to defend the alternating current. As a result of the debate, the alternating current side gradually won. The direct current side was unwilling to fail, and HP Brown (who was an Edison laboratory assistant) encouraged and supported the State Assembly to pass a decree to execute the death penalty by electric shock, and purchased three alternating current generators produced by Westinghouse in May 1889. It was resold to the prison and used as a power source for the electrocution chair, causing many people to think that alternating current is synonymous with death. At the same time, the people ’s congress on Edison ’s side created public opinion: “The electric chair is a testament to the fact that alternating current makes people easy to die. In this regard, Westinghouse held a press conference against each other. Tesla personally tied the wire all over his body and then connected it with a string of light bulbs. After the alternating current was turned on, the light was bright, but Tesla was safe. The direct current side tried to legally put the alternating current to death under the adverse circumstances of public opinion failure.


In the spring of 890, some members of the State of Virginia in the United States filed a motion on "for the prevention of danger from electric currents", requiring the state-wide non-pulsating direct current voltage not to exceed 800vV and the pulsating direct current voltage 550V, alternating current voltage must not exceed 200V, its intention to prevent the use of alternating current power is well-known to everyone. In early April, the parliament set up a jury to hold a hearing, Edison and the company's general manager Morton (Morton), as well as Westinghouse engineer Stirwell (LB Stillwell (1863--1941) and defense lawyer Levis (H .Levis) and so on, all attended the hearing. The arrival of the famous Edison made the parliament hall impenetrable. Edison sensationally said at the hearing: "direct current power is like" a river flowing peacefully to the sea ", and alternating current power is like" a torrent rushing violently over a precipice " Morton also tried his best to attack the alternating current, but their testimony was unimportant and unconvincing, making the listeners and reviewers in the mist. Witnesses from Westinghouse and many electric light companies have refuted the very dangerous argument of alternating current by using concise and clear technical language and the practice of electric lamps up to 3000V that they have widely used. After a debate, the jury passed a resolution and denied the motion. After Virginia, Ohio and other states soon denied similar motions. Since then, alternating current has gradually been accepted by the public, and Westinghouse has gained a reputation in the exchange war (for example, in 1893, it accepted an order contract for 250,000 light bulbs at the Chicago Expo), and gradually developed and expanded. The Edison Electric Company, which lost in the battle of alternating current and direct current, lost its reputation and was unsustainable.It had to merge with Thomson-Houston in 1892 to form the United States General Electric Company (GE) .As soon as the company was established, it abandoned Edison. The idea of ​​developing alternating current equipment, inheriting the original Thomson-Houston company's work in manufacturing alternating current equipment, vigorously promote the development of alternating current equipment.


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These are an important AC-DC battle in the history of motor development. The controversy that finally caused the harm of alternating current to win was not as dangerous as the proponents of direct current said. After this resolution, the alternator began to greet the spring of development, and its characteristics and advantages began to be understood and gradually accepted by people. This was also a factor in the success of the alternator in the hydroelectric generator at Niagara Falls Hydropower Station.