Tue. Oct 19th, 2021


I always have Exaggerated claims of upcoming science fi C and technological breakthroughs are disliked, such as cheap spending, successful supersonic travel and the disintegration of other planets. But I like general devices that do a lot in the basic functions of modern civilization, especially those that work modestly or invisibly.

No device does this description better than a transformer. Non-engineers may be vaguely aware of the presence of such devices but have no idea how they work and how they are absolutely essential to everyday life. (A transformer is a device that transfers electricity between two circuits during a voltage change, it is the “pressure” of the power of the electric current.)

The theoretical basis was laid by Michael Faraday and Joseph Henry in the early 1830s, with the independent discovery of electromagnetic induction. They showed that a variable magnetic-higher could induce a higher voltage current (known as “stepping up”) or a lower (“resignation”). But it took another half-century before Lucian Gallard, John Dixon Gibbs, Charles Brush and Sebastian Gianni de Ferranti were able to design the first effective transformer prototypes. Subsequently, a trio of Hungarian engineers – Atti Blathi, Miksa Dari, and Caroli Zipornoski – developed the torroidal (donut-shaped) transformer, which they demonstrated in 1885.

The following year, a better design was introduced by a trio of American engineers – William Stanley, Albert Schmidt, and Oliver B. Schlenberger, who worked on behalf of George Westinghouse. The device soon took on the form of the classic Stanley transformer that has been retained ever since: a thin silicon steel layer with an iron core, one part shaped like an “E” and the other shaped like an “I” so that it is easy to slide the copper coil into place. To do.

In a speech to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1912, Stanley was amazed at how the device “provided such a complete and simple solution to a complex problem. It embarrassed all mechanical efforts to control it. It provided such ease, reliability and enormous power to the economy.” It is instantly given or taken. It is so reliable, strong and specific. In this alloy of steel and copper, the extraordinary forces are so unbalanced that it can be almost incomplete. “

The largest modern incarnations of this permanent design have made it possible to supply electricity over great distances. In 2018, Siemens delivered the first of seven record-breaking 1,100 kilovolt transformers that would enable power supply to several Chinese provinces connected to a nearly 3,300-kilometer-long, high-voltage DC line.

The number of transformers on top of something Stanley could have imagined has increased, thanks to the explosion of portable electronic devices that have to be charged. In 2016, the global output of smartphones alone was 1.6 billion units, each supported by a small transformer powered by a charger. You don’t have to disconnect your phone charger to see the heart of that little device; A complete iPhone charger teardown is posted on the internet, with the transformer being one of its biggest components.

However, many chargers even have a tiny transformer. These are Stanley (not wire-wound) devices that take advantage of the piezoelectric effect a ability to produce a stream of flowing crystals and the ability of a current to strain or distort a crystal. Sound waves referring to such crystals can create a current and a current through the crystal can create sound. A current can thus be used to create another current of very different voltage.

And the latest invention is the electronic transformer. These are much lower in volume and mass compared to conventional units and will be especially important for integrating power-wind and solar power sources into the grid from time to time and to enable DC microgrids. Without transformers we would not have an ubiquitous age of electricity, and would be stuck in the age of oil lamps and telegraphs.


From Don’t lie to numbers An impression of Penguin Publishing Group, by Vaclav Smile, published by Penguin Random House, LLC Division, Penguin Books. Copyright © 2020 Vaclav Smile.


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