About battery and power grid circuits

In summary, Will is trying to deepen his understanding of electrical systems and has some basic questions that have not been answered by typical explanations. He is specifically seeking clarification on the flow of electrons in a battery and how it is different from the flow of electrons in a power grid. He also asks about the role of the neutral conductor in a power grid and the differences between AC and DC currents. Additionally, he inquires about how a battery is recharged and the role of chemical reactions in batteries.
  • #1
Will1987
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Hi
I'm trying to deepen my conceptual knowledge about electrical systems. I'm definitely a lay level, tradesman level user here. I'm lucky if I can do some simple algebra, so I don't want a lot of math (though I might get into that later if I want to get deeper into engineering).

I have some basic questions that never seems to get answered by your average "plumbing analogy" descriptions about basic electricity. Literature like that always seems to start you off with a battery, tells you one side has an excess of electrons (charges) that want to move through a conductor to the other side where its electron poor, or overall positively charged, and that creates voltage (electrical pressure) and amperage and so on. However they always seems to say that the charges flow "from one point, through a load (some appliance) and back to the source" and things.

I need to clarify: it seems to me the electrons flowing from one cell of a battery to the other are not coming back to their source but rather moving to the other "pole" (right terminology?) which is by definition separate from the source because it needs to be electron poor. then it comes into electrical balance after a while and the battery is dead. but its still got 2 cells and the whole point is that its NOT flowing back to the voltage source, but going somewhere else to enrich it with its charges, i.e. the other cell in the battery.

If I could just clarify that then it might be easier for me to understand the power grid. I understand that ac voltage/current is generated by steam turbines whirling great magnets in induction coils and so on, leaves as 3 phase ac current (by the way, is there current in the power lines or only voltage?) and gets stepped down by transformers and things finally to end up in your house as 120 volts ac. it electrifies the hot bus bars, and then moves on out through breakers or fuses as usually 15 or 20 amp branch circuits. Then it retruns to neutral bus bars which are basically grounds.

So my basic question which I can never seems to get answered, is - what is the other "pole" or side of this circuit? You've got current being generated on one end and going through houses (loads) but where does it end up? back at the power plant? in the ground? Or am I oversimplifying this somehow? Does the fact that its ac complicate the question and if so how exactly?

and a related question is - does ac current just basically flow through power lines (or any wire) in a sine wave pattern but propogating forward just like dc would? i.e. basically a wavy line versus a straight one or is there more to it than that?

Thanks a lot,
Will

p.s. if you're not already tired of this can you explain how a "reverse current" recharges a battery (i.e. in the case of a car battery)?
 
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  • #2
A simple "battery" like a AA, AAA, C or D cell consists of a single cell. A cell consists of 2 electrodes and a electrolyte material. There is a chemical reaction going on inside a cell which is transporting ions through the electrolyte and providing electrons to the cathode.
You can make a simple battery by sticking pencil lead (graphite) and zinc into a lemon.

A rechargeable battery is composed of chemicals whose reaction can run either way depending on the terminal voltage. When the battery is providing voltage the reaction will run until the starting chemicals have all reacted. If the terminals are then held at a high enough voltage the reaction will run "backwards" essentially reassembling the initial chemical composition. There is lots of information about this online try searching on "galvanic series". You also may want to read the Wiki article on AA cells.
 
  • #3
And for AC...
In the power grid, there are no chemical reactions, so no ions or electron sources. The grid uses only the electrons already present in the wires. The induction by the generator just gives them a push.

Regarding their motion, I'm not sure of the actual drift velocity, but the same electrons will basically just oscillate back and forth in a piece of wire if it is long enough.
 
  • #4
In your home, the AC mains use the neutral as a return path in an unbalanced load. There is current flowing through the neutral wire, but it is very slow. An equation factoring in the current, charge of electrons per CC, and wire gauge can calculate the current flowing in a 100watt lightbulb to be about 3 inches per hour. It is slow like molasses.

In North America, your house panel is fed by two 120volt conductors and 1 neutral conductor. To get 120 volts, one of the hot phases is connected through a load back to the neutral conductor. The neutral conductor comes from a center-tapped winding on the secondary side of the distribution transformer. The neutral is earthed at your panel and at the transformer to prevent any situation where the neutral could carry a voltage higher than ground potential. For a 220volt potential, the load is connected between the two 120volt phases which create a 220 volt potential. You can think of the neutral as being half-way between the two phases, thus creating half the voltage. So in a 120 volt circuit, the current flows from one of the hot conductors, through the load, and back to the transformer via the neutral wire.
 

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  • #5
Will1987 said:
If I could just clarify that then it might be easier for me to understand the power grid. I understand that ac voltage/current is generated by steam turbines whirling great magnets in induction coils and so on, leaves as 3 phase ac current (by the way, is there current in the power lines or only voltage?)
Both,you can't have current without a voltage difference and you can't have a voltage difference without a current.
Since power = voltage * current, you can decide what voltage you want to use to give a certain power at a certain current. Because current flowing through a wire creates heat the power grid uses a very high voltage and a low current to reduce this waste heat.

So my basic question which I can never seems to get answered, is - what is the other "pole" or side of this circuit? You've got current being generated on one end and going through houses (loads) but where does it end up? back at the power plant? in the ground? Or am I oversimplifying this somehow? Does the fact that its ac complicate the question and if so how exactly?
Literally the ground! At the house end of the circuit the other side of your load is connected to a big copper rod into the ground ( actually ussually at the last substation/transformer) similairly at the power station another rod is in the ground.
Although the Earth isn't very conductive it does have a pretty large cross-section area - so overall makes a very low resistance path back to the power station.
AC makes this a little easier - the voltage is constantly changing and so there isn't a constant strong field in the ground. On high power DC systems like subway trains you can't use the ground as a return because the constant electric field and high current would cause chemical reactions - like corrosion of any nearby metal pipes and steelwork.
 
  • #6
mgb_phys said:
Both,you can't have current without a voltage difference and you can't have a voltage difference without a current.
Since power = voltage * current, you can decide what voltage you want to use to give a certain power at a certain current. Because current flowing through a wire creates heat the power grid uses a very high voltage and a low current to reduce this waste heat.


Literally the ground! At the house end of the circuit the other side of your load is connected to a big copper rod into the ground ( actually ussually at the last substation/transformer) similairly at the power station another rod is in the ground.
Although the Earth isn't very conductive it does have a pretty large cross-section area - so overall makes a very low resistance path back to the power station.
AC makes this a little easier - the voltage is constantly changing and so there isn't a constant strong field in the ground. On high power DC systems like subway trains you can't use the ground as a return because the constant electric field and high current would cause chemical reactions - like corrosion of any nearby metal pipes and steelwork.

The ground or Earth if you prefer, is NOT the return conductor for the power grid. The grounding stakes are there to keep the power lines at a known potential wrt ground. Also, a grounded wire, usually smaller gauge than the power lines, is often placed above the 3 phase power lines. The idea here is that the ground wire protects the 3 phase wires by absorbing a lightning stroke.

The load current path is always wires, and not the earth. For a residence, the hot and neutral wires carry the load current for 120V ac (USA), and the 2 hot wires carry load current for 240V ac. The Earth does not carry load current.

Your 1st paragraph is precisely correct. Cheers.

Claude
 
  • #7
cabraham said:
The ground or Earth if you prefer, is NOT the return conductor for the power grid. The grounding stakes are there to keep the power lines at a known potential wrt ground. Also, a grounded wire, usually smaller gauge than the power lines, is often placed above the 3 phase power lines. The idea here is that the ground wire protects the 3 phase wires by absorbing a lightning stroke.

The load current path is always wires, and not the earth. For a residence, the hot and neutral wires carry the load current for 120V ac (USA), and the 2 hot wires carry load current for 240V ac. The Earth does not carry load current.

Your 1st paragraph is precisely correct. Cheers.

Claude

really? i thought the only reason the Earth wasn't really a return path is because in a balanced multi-phase AC system the return current is zero.
 
  • #8
Proton Soup said:
really? i thought the only reason the Earth wasn't really a return path is because in a balanced multi-phase AC system the return current is zero.

You're right, in a balanced system, there is no return current. In an unbalanced system, the return current is sent down the neutral conductor back to the distribution transformer in your neighbourhood...not to the power plant. The only reason that the neutral conductor is grounded is to prevent it from going above earth-ground potential (voltage) - for safety and equipment reliablilty reasons.
 
  • #9
There shouldn't be a significant return current for a properly balanced 3phase, but if you are using the ground as a reference then some current must flow back through the ground. You can't have two points at the same potential without a current flow.

Does the unbalanced return current flow in the top wire? I thought is was just lightning protection and signaling.
 
  • #10
mgb_phys said:
There shouldn't be a significant return current for a properly balanced 3phase, but if you are using the ground as a reference then some current must flow back through the ground. You can't have two points at the same potential without a current flow.

Does the unbalanced return current flow in the top wire? I thought is was just lightning protection and signaling.

Do you mean "You can have two points at the same potential without a current flow" ? Two wires connected both at 0 volts are at the same potential - and no current flows.
 
  • #11
Sorry that was badly phrased, what I meant was you can't say two points are connected so that they are at the same potential and then claim that no current flows between them.
Yes - once they are at the same potential there is no longer current flow, but for them to be compared there must be a current path. You can't take two isolated points and say anything about the voltage difference.
 
  • #12
cabraham said:
The ground or Earth if you prefer, is NOT the return conductor for the power grid. The grounding stakes are there to keep the power lines at a known potential wrt ground. Also, a grounded wire, usually smaller gauge than the power lines, is often placed above the 3 phase power lines. The idea here is that the ground wire protects the 3 phase wires by absorbing a lightning stroke.

The load current path is always wires, and not the earth. For a residence, the hot and neutral wires carry the load current for 120V ac (USA), and the 2 hot wires carry load current for 240V ac. The Earth does not carry load current.

Your 1st paragraph is precisely correct. Cheers.

Claude

Some systems actually *do* use the Earth as a return path (though it's only in places with lots of remote users):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single-wire_earth_return
 
  • #13
wow thanks everybody, a lot of cool stuff to mull over there. If I understand things right, a circuit is not really circular except in the conceptually spatial sense. It could just be a line (like a wire) between two points of differing potential.
But it is a circuit in the sense that its always EXCHANGE of charges. The flow of positive ions IS the flow of electrons in the other direction. Therefore if I understand it right, the turbine powered induction at the power station is the cathode and the the ground is the anode in the circuit as a whole, alowing for ac in the form of a sine wave pattern of charge motion (in 3 phases) to go on in an ongoing pattern. Do I have this basically right?

Will
 
  • #14
The water in pipes analogy only goes so far. There isn't really much exchange of charges - the drift velocity of electrons in household wiring is about 0.1mm/s.
What really happens is the field pushes the first electron, which pushes the second and so on down the wire - it is the field that travels from the power station to you.
A better model is probably to think of pressure in a pipe, like in a hydraulic system. The oil doesn't flow from the peddle to the brake cylinder - only the pressure moves through the fluid.

The same is also true in a battery powered circuit - it's only inside the battery that electrons really move from cathode to anode.
 
  • #15
Will1987 said:
If I understand things right, a circuit is not really circular except in the conceptually spatial sense. It could just be a line (like a wire) between two points of differing potential.
But it is a circuit in the sense that its always EXCHANGE of charges. The flow of positive ions IS the flow of electrons in the other direction. Therefore if I understand it right, the turbine powered induction at the power station is the cathode and the the ground is the anode in the circuit as a whole, alowing for ac in the form of a sine wave pattern of charge motion (in 3 phases) to go on in an ongoing pattern. Do I have this basically right?

Will

No, circuits must be complete for current to flow.

Current only has a tendency to flow back to the source from which it came and not into the earth. If it flows through the earth, it is a fault current.

CS
 
  • #16
Regarding unbalanced 3 phase circuits, there is still no Earth current, even with unbalanced loads.

There are many combinations of 3 phase xfmr connections, but the most common are Y-Y, Y-delta, delta-Y, & delta-delta. The most problematic of the 4 is the Y-Y. If a Y-Y connection is used with either a 3-phase shell type core, or with 3 individual 1-phase xfmrs, then a neutral connection is needed to maintain balanced phases when the load is unbalanced. The neutral would carry current when the 3 phase currents are not balanced.

With the other 3 configurations, NO neutral is needed, and the 3 phases remain balanced (line to line and line to neutral voltages) even when the load is unbalanced. Thus with Y-D, D-Y, & D-D systems, only 3 wires are needed under all circumstances. Having 1 delta assures balance since the delta winding can establish currents circulating inside the closed delta path. Also, if a 3 phase core type xfmr is used, it can sustain a balanced Y-Y connection WITHOUT A NEUTRAL. The 3 magnetic fluxes are coupled via the "E" core, hence only 3 wires are needed for all conditions, bal or unbal.

Thus, the power grid always uses an xfmr configuration that has at least 1 delta connected winding to maintain balance without a 4th wire, or if the primary & secondary must both be Y-connected, then a tertiary delta winding is used, or a 3-legged E core.

Regardless of how unbalanced the load is, the power company never relies on the earth/soil to conduct load current. A small amount does conduct by virtue of current division, but too small to be concerned about. The power grid relies on 3 wires to carry load current. For unbalanced loads, the 3 currents are unequal, but the voltages remain balanced by virtue of the delta windings or the 3 legged E core.

Make sense?

Claude
 
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  • #17
No Claude, that makes very little sense. It's a bunch of shop talk that doesn't help me much at my current level of engineering background.

and since Stewartcs made the oft repeated remark that "the circuit must be complete" then perhaps he can, in simple terms, just describe the "circuit" of a power grid which was my orginial question actually.

PLEASE JUST DESCRIBE IN A SERIAL WAY THE PATH THAT CHARGE TAKES IN THE POWER GRID, FROM ITS POINT OF ORIGIN AT THE POWER STATION, THROUGH THE LOADS, BACK TO THE "SOURCE."

It's my understanding that for charge to flow from point a to point b there must be a difference in electrical potential, and that's basically the "polarity" that makes the whole process occur. So as charge is flowing from point a to point b, opposite charge is also flowing from point b back to point a. Cations in one direction are anions going in the other direction.thats a circuit, no?

So what are the two points of differing potential in the power grid, that's all I want to know. Is the turbine/inductuion coil both the beginning and end of that circuit, just with a bunch of transformers and loads in between?
 
  • #18
Will1987 said:
No Claude, that makes very little sense. It's a bunch of shop talk that doesn't help me much at my current level of engineering background.

and since Stewartcs made the oft repeated remark that "the circuit must be complete" then perhaps he can, in simple terms, just describe the "circuit" of a power grid which was my orginial question actually.

PLEASE JUST DESCRIBE IN A SERIAL WAY THE PATH THAT CHARGE TAKES IN THE POWER GRID, FROM ITS POINT OF ORIGIN AT THE POWER STATION, THROUGH THE LOADS, BACK TO THE "SOURCE."

It's my understanding that for charge to flow from point a to point b there must be a difference in electrical potential, and that's basically the "polarity" that makes the whole process occur. So as charge is flowing from point a to point b, opposite charge is also flowing from point b back to point a. Cations in one direction are anions going in the other direction.thats a circuit, no?

So what are the two points of differing potential in the power grid, that's all I want to know. Is the turbine/inductuion coil both the beginning and end of that circuit, just with a bunch of transformers and loads in between?

The turbine is the active device driving the entire grid. Of course, other turbines are interconnected into that same grid and they also are actively driving said grid.

To understand conceptually, it is best to start with just 1 generator. Fuel is burned, and that energy is translated into mechanical power, which then gets translated into electric power. The work done moving charges around the circuit ultimately begins with burning of fuel. Energy conversion is what it is called in the engineering world.

Is that easier to understand? BR.

Claude
 
  • #19
ac power became a standard largely because it could be transmitted long distances economically. Thomas Edison liked dc better, but lost.

By stepping up voltages to very high levels, power (IE) can be transmitted long distances: line losses of i^2(R) where R is the transmission line resistance, can be reduced by keeping current small...that means we want voltage high...say 300,000 volts or more for distance transmissions even though customers may want 120 or 220 volts. That means it musty be stepped up and down, very expensive if dc, much more efficient with transformers and ac.

You should get a basic book on electricity as learning a variety of basics all at once is difficult to do in forums like this where responses, explanations are necessarily limited...
and you are more likely to get accurate explanations as well...
 
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  • #20
Will1987 said:
No Claude, that makes very little sense. It's a bunch of shop talk that doesn't help me much at my current level of engineering background.

You're asking for deeper understanding, but now it feels like you're trying to drink from the firehose? Well, it depends on how much deeper you actually want to go.

Will1987 said:
It's my understanding that for charge to flow from point a to point b there must be a difference in electrical potential, and that's basically the "polarity" that makes the whole process occur. So as charge is flowing from point a to point b, opposite charge is also flowing from point b back to point a. Cations in one direction are anions going in the other direction.thats a circuit, no?

This was addressed in one of the earlier posts in this thread by russ_watters. No single electron will go all the way around the circuit, but at any given point, there is a net movement of electrons that flow from higher potential to lower potential. But there is a net flow of electrons at any given point due to the potential difference (and not polarity) from point a to point b. That's a somewhat DC view of things, but we still say that various points in an AC circuit are at higher (or lower) potential than others (which is true if you're looking at the RMS voltage--don't worry about that for now, if ever).

russ_watters said:
And for AC...
In the power grid, there are no chemical reactions, so no ions or electron sources. The grid uses only the electrons already present in the wires. The induction by the generator just gives them a push.

Regarding their motion, I'm not sure of the actual drift velocity, but the same electrons will basically just oscillate back and forth in a piece of wire if it is long enough.

Will1987 said:
PLEASE JUST DESCRIBE IN A SERIAL WAY THE PATH THAT CHARGE TAKES IN THE POWER GRID, FROM ITS POINT OF ORIGIN AT THE POWER STATION, THROUGH THE LOADS, BACK TO THE "SOURCE."

So what are the two points of differing potential in the power grid, that's all I want to know. Is the turbine/inductuion coil both the beginning and end of that circuit, just with a bunch of transformers and loads in between?

It's much easier if you think in terms of potential (and current--conventionally, we use the net 'flow' of positive charge rather than negative--blame Ben Franklin for this) rather than the actual charges. And perhaps it's best to just think of the potential rather than current because in AC systems, even the net flow just oscillates back and forth. I think that would help to simplify the picture.

The most simplistic picture has one side (the hot side) of the generator at the high potential. This potential is transmitted along the transmission line to your house (along perfect zero resistance cables) where your appliance (the load) drops all the potential. A return path (the neutral transmission line) back to the other side of the generator completes the circuit, and allows the current to flow.

Got that? Good. That's not a bad picture. In reality, transmission lines have some resistance, and the higher the transmission voltage, the lower the losses in the line, which is still up to 40% (or somewhere around this ballpark) of the power, depending on the distance between the plant and end user. So the power plant (which has many generators) feeds a high amount of power into a transformer station which steps up the potential. Some of the power (and not just potential) is lost along the lines, but the majority makes it to the substation, which transforms this very high potential to high potential (actually, this is usually only an intermediary as there's a transformer at your house or in your block which does the final conversion to whatever mains voltage you use in your country). You use most of the remaining power, and the rest of the power is used up in the return leg (through the various transformers again) back to the power plant.

If that didn't make any sense (but the previous paragraph did), well, take heart in the fact that you've got a high level picture of how things work. That and visit the Wikipedia page on power transmission:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_power_transmission
 
  • #21
Will1987 said:
No Claude, that makes very little sense. It's a bunch of shop talk that doesn't help me much at my current level of engineering background.

and since Stewartcs made the oft repeated remark that "the circuit must be complete" then perhaps he can, in simple terms, just describe the "circuit" of a power grid which was my orginial question actually.

PLEASE JUST DESCRIBE IN A SERIAL WAY THE PATH THAT CHARGE TAKES IN THE POWER GRID, FROM ITS POINT OF ORIGIN AT THE POWER STATION, THROUGH THE LOADS, BACK TO THE "SOURCE."

It's my understanding that for charge to flow from point a to point b there must be a difference in electrical potential, and that's basically the "polarity" that makes the whole process occur. So as charge is flowing from point a to point b, opposite charge is also flowing from point b back to point a. Cations in one direction are anions going in the other direction.thats a circuit, no?

So what are the two points of differing potential in the power grid, that's all I want to know. Is the turbine/inductuion coil both the beginning and end of that circuit, just with a bunch of transformers and loads in between?

It's best to just start with a simple AC circuit with a reactive load. You'll find one in your intro to electrical engineering book or even on the web with Google. Read the way they describe how the circuit works. The concept is the same for a large power grid except there will be multiple generators, resistive and reactive loads, transformers, substations, and distribution centers. Those items won't change the way an electrical circuit works though.

In a simple circuit the power source creates a potential difference between its terminals. Power (voltage and current) travels down one leg (the hot leg), to the load where the voltage is "dropped" (i.e. loses electrical potential energy) and returns back to the source on the other leg (the neutral leg). At the load the power is transformed into some other form of energy like mechanical for example as well as some being dissipated as heat due to natural irreversibilities in the system (some energy is also lost due to the resistance in the transmission wire itself known as I^2R loses). Since a potential difference exists between the two terminals (point a and point b) and they are connected in a complete circuit (via the wire or legs previously mentioned) an electrical current flows. This current and the voltage are equal to the power that the source is outputting. Note that the conservation of energy still applies.

All you need to do now is just put in your transformers, think of the source as the generator, and the transmission lines as the "legs" and it's essentially the same.

Does that help?

CS
 
  • #22
Will1987 said:
No Claude, that makes very little sense. It's a bunch of shop talk that doesn't help me much at my current level of engineering background.

and since Stewartcs made the oft repeated remark that "the circuit must be complete" then perhaps he can, in simple terms, just describe the "circuit" of a power grid which was my orginial question actually.

PLEASE JUST DESCRIBE IN A SERIAL WAY THE PATH THAT CHARGE TAKES IN THE POWER GRID, FROM ITS POINT OF ORIGIN AT THE POWER STATION, THROUGH THE LOADS, BACK TO THE "SOURCE."

It's my understanding that for charge to flow from point a to point b there must be a difference in electrical potential, and that's basically the "polarity" that makes the whole process occur. So as charge is flowing from point a to point b, opposite charge is also flowing from point b back to point a. Cations in one direction are anions going in the other direction.thats a circuit, no?

So what are the two points of differing potential in the power grid, that's all I want to know. Is the turbine/inductuion coil both the beginning and end of that circuit, just with a bunch of transformers and loads in between?

for starters, the power grid is a bad place to start. 3-phase power is not easy to visualize. in fact, engineers use a lot of math tricks that make dealing with it easier.

i'm not sure this will help much, but what the heck, another analogy. think of electrons as links on a bicycle chain. as you turn the crank (generator), you're pulling links in one direction and, if the links were in a rigid tube, you'd being pushing them in the other direction at the same time. these links are all at a certain tension. now suppose you need less tension where the energy is applied. one way you can do this is by adding another chain (not at the generator end, but the other sprocket). with a different sized sprocket on the same axle, you can gear down to drive another chain at a lower tension, and apply the load elsewhere (at another axle). this new chain on the other side of your "transformer" has its own links (electrons) traveling in their own closed loop. the links pushed by the generator are not the same as the ones applied at the load. this is more or less how power transmission works. generated power is transmitted at high tension, but fewer moving electrons because it loses less power to friction. and then at various steps along the way, it passes through gearboxes to bring the tension down. if you like water pipes analogies, you could just as well use that water to drive pumps that change the ratios of pressure and water flow, and still end up with several closed loops in your system.

this is probably not completely well-thought or written, but maybe it addresses part of your questions. i think you really should strive to understand DC well, first, even if that means taking a few things at faith, at first.
 
  • #23
MatlaBdude, Stewartcs, Proton soup, all great answers. Very helpful. So the voltage/current (negligible current?) DOES end up back at the power station! Can you describe the two "terminals" at the power station itself in a little more detail?
I see that when introductory explanations talk about about "current returning to the source" by source they mean the power source which is the two terminals, but its always one source in the sense that its always cycling through, trading places, swapping charge. Confusion was getting created by my thinking that since ground has a net positive charge and electrons negative, that the ground must somhow be the other "terminal."
In a simple circuit the power source creates a potential difference between its terminals. Power (voltage and current) travels down one leg (the hot leg), to the load where the voltage is "dropped" (i.e. loses electrical potential energy) and returns back to the source on the other leg (the neutral leg). At the load the power is transformed into some other form of energy like mechanical for example as well as some being dissipated as heat due to natural irreversibilities in the system (some energy is also lost due to the resistance in the transmission wire itself known as I^2R loses). Since a potential difference exists between the two terminals (point a and point b) and they are connected in a complete circuit (via the wire or legs previously mentioned) an electrical current flows. This current and the voltage are equal to the power that the source is outputting. Note that the conservation of energy still applies.
I'm interested here in what you're saying about the voltage being "dropped." The hot leg is the volage/current source but what returns on the neutral leg if the voltage has been dropped or translated into mechanical energy and heat? The returning current is also negligible, right? I guess the voltage and the amperage do return, just with less power because its already been used by the load as mechanical work? can you elaborate a little on that?

The turbine is the active device driving the entire grid. Of course, other turbines are interconnected into that same grid and they also are actively driving said grid.

To understand conceptually, it is best to start with just 1 generator. Fuel is burned, and that energy is translated into mechanical power, which then gets translated into electric power. The work done moving charges around the circuit ultimately begins with burning of fuel. Energy conversion is what it is called in the engineering world.

Is that easier to understand? BR.

Thanks but now that's too simple Claude, hehehe. Try aiming somehwere between your first response and that one and it'll be about right. by the way what does "BR" mean?

Thanks everybody I'm beginning to UNDERSTAND! Call me a nerd but it feels so good.

Will
 
  • #24
Will1987 said:
I'm interested here in what you're saying about the voltage being "dropped." The hot leg is the volage/current source but what returns on the neutral leg if the voltage has been dropped or translated into mechanical energy and heat? The returning current is also negligible, right? I guess the voltage and the amperage do return, just with less power because its already been used by the load as mechanical work? can you elaborate a little on that?

The voltage is "dropped" since it has lost its electrical potential energy. Thus the electric charge has very little potential and returns to the source at about 0 volts (there actually is a very small voltage due to the resistance of the wires: V = IR). Again, referring to a single phase circuit for simplicity, there will be an equal and opposite current flowing in the return wire (or neutral leg) back to the source, and the potential in that leg is just very low (near 0 volts) since the electric charge has already "given up" its energy to whatever device/component is in the circuit (e.g. light bulb, motor, heat).

Make sense?

CS
 
  • #25
Yeah I guess that makes general sense. What do the white wires ultimately conenct to ack on the pole? Does the return leg return to the source back at the power station using the ground wire that's on the powerline poles?

Will
 
  • #26
Will1987 said:
What do the white wires ultimately conenct to [back] on the pole?

The white wire in a residential circuit is the return leg (i.e. neutral leg) and ultimately connects to the center tap of the pole/pad transformer.

Will1987 said:
Does the return leg return to the source back at the power station using the ground wire that's on the power line poles?

No. The ground wire is only used for safety and stabilization (e.g. ground faults, lightning strikes). No current is carried on the ground wire during normal conditions. Note that the "source" in a residential circuit is the pole/pad transformer even though the origin of the power is at the power station. Hence the return wire only goes to the transformer.

CS
 

Related to About battery and power grid circuits

1. What is a battery?

A battery is a device that stores electrical energy and converts it into usable power. It typically consists of one or more electrochemical cells connected together to provide a steady flow of electricity.

2. How does a battery work?

A battery works by converting chemical energy into electrical energy through a process called electrochemical reaction. This reaction occurs within the battery's cells and produces a flow of electrons, which can then be used to power devices.

3. What is the role of a power grid in a battery?

The power grid is responsible for distributing electricity from power plants to homes and businesses. Batteries can be connected to the power grid to store excess energy and provide backup power during times of high demand.

4. What is the difference between AC and DC power?

AC (alternating current) power flows in both directions, constantly changing direction. DC (direct current) power flows in one direction only. Batteries produce DC power, while the power grid delivers AC power.

5. Can batteries be used to power large-scale systems?

Yes, batteries can be used for large-scale systems such as power grids. However, the size and number of batteries needed for such systems can be expensive and may not be the most efficient solution. Other forms of energy storage, such as pumped hydro or compressed air, may be more suitable for large-scale applications.

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