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Brief History of Transformers (Not Robot Kind)

I have always been did not like the exaggerated claims of scientific and technological advances, such as low-cost integration, extremely low mobility, and the advancement of other planets. But I like simple tools that play a very important role in modern development, especially those that do it modestly — or invisibly.

There is no tool that has undermined this definition more than the converter. Non-engineers may know that such tools are available, but they do not know how they work and that they are very important in everyday life. (A switch is a device that transfers electricity between two circuits and converts electricity, then the “forcing” of electrical power.)

The original foundation was laid in the early 1830s, when Michael Faraday and Joseph Henry acquired the power of electric motors. He showed that magnetic changes can cause electrical energy (called “rise”) or low (“low”). But it took another 50 years for Lucien Gaulard, John Dixon Gibbs, Charles Brush, and Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti to make the first revolutionary demonstrations. Later, three Hungarian architects – Ottó Bláthy, Miksa Déri, ​​and Károly Zipernowsky – developed the design to build a toroidal transformer (made of donations), which he exhibited in 1885.

The following year, the refinement was initiated by three American scholars William Stanley, Albert Schmid, and Oliver B. Shallenberger, who worked for George Westinghouse. The device soon became a staple Stanley’s high-performance switch that has been stored since then: a central stain made of thin metal laminations, one component shaped like an “E” and the other an “I” component to make it easier to replace the bruises.

In a statement to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1912, Stanley wondered how the device provides a “complete and simple solution to problems.” , strong, and resilient. ”In this copper-based metallurgy, the supernatural is so powerful and unpredictable.”

The vast majority of these durable forms have enabled them to transmit electricity far and wide. In 2018, Nokia unveiled the first 1,100-kilovolt converter that can supply electricity to several Chinese locations connected by a nearly 3,300-mile DC line.

The amount of transformers is far greater than anything Stanley could have imagined, due to the explosion of electronic devices that had to be paid for. In 2016 the global production of mobile phones alone exceeded 1.8 billion units, each powered by a charger with a small switch. You do not need to turn off your phone camera to see the heart of that small device; The complete teardown of the iPhone is posted online, while the switch is one of the biggest.

But most chargers are even smaller converters. These are not Stanley tools (that is, not wire wires) that use piezoelectric force — the ability of a distorted crystal to generate electricity, and in the meantime to disrupt or degrade crystals. The sound waves on the crystal can make a noise, and strong vibrations through the crystal can make a noise. The same machines can be used to make some very different electricity.

And the latest innovation is the electronic revolution. They are significantly reduced in size compared to traditional groups, and will be more important to integrate indoor wind-wind and solar-grid and support DC microgrids. Without transformers we would not have the age of electricity available everywhere, living in the era of oil lamps and telegraph.

From False Numbers written by Vaclav Smil, published by Penguin Books, edited by Penguin Publishing Group, part of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2020 author Vaclav Smil.

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