Questions on Electricity Generation

In summary: This is because the generator is using an electromotive force (emf) to push the electrons about, rather than storing up an excess.
  • #1
JasonSCarter
3
0
Hello all, This is my first post here, and I've got something that is stumping me. no this is not for homework, My question is this, When electricity is generated, where do the electrons come from? I mean if they we're coming from the copper wires, or magnets inside the dynamo wouldn't we see some sort of erosion, an isotope change, and radioactivity?

Jason
 
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  • #2
JasonSCarter said:
Hello all, This is my first post here, and I've got something that is stumping me. no this is not for homework, My question is this, When electricity is generated, where do the electrons come from? I mean if they we're coming from the copper wires, or magnets inside the dynamo wouldn't we see some sort of erosion, an isotope change, and radioactivity?

Jason

Welcome to the PF.

The electrons are being pushed from atom to atom in the conductive circuit (like around a wire) by the "electromotive force". There is not an excess of electrons, they are just being pushed along by some power source like a battery or power supply.

The only time you get an excess of electrons (more electrons than atoms) is when you collect them as part of an electrostatic charge (like the ESD shocks you get from rubbing things together).
 
  • #3
Thank you for the response! I really appreciate it. However I'm curious, since there being pushed along, that means some atoms somewhere are having to lose an electron. which would denote some sort of erosion, an isotope change, and radioactivity?

Jason
 
  • #4
JasonSCarter said:
Thank you for the response! I really appreciate it. However I'm curious, since there being pushed along, that means some atoms somewhere are having to lose an electron. which would denote some sort of erosion, an isotope change, and radioactivity?

Jason

In conductors like metals, there is a band of electrons that is "shared" between the atoms. So the electrons in this conduction band are moving from atom to atom randomly anyway. when you apply a field down the wire with a battery or whatever, they still move mostly randomly, but tend to drift in the direction of the postive terminal of the battery or power supply.

You can look up the Band Theory of Solids for more info. Here is a brief wikipedia page on Conduction Band, with links to more info.
 
  • #5
Just for your information, Jason

Since you have heard of electrons I assume you have some idea of the the make up of atoms?

Erosion refers to whole atoms (usually lots of them)

Loss of electrons makes ions not isotopes.
Isotopes are determined by the neutrons in the atomic nucleus.
Loss of (or gain) of neutrons would definitely make new isotopes
Loss/gain of protons makes new elements

finally most radioactivity comes from the nucleus. not form the action of electrons (luckily for mankind) so we can safely use elctic gadgets without generation of radioactivity.
 
  • #6
berkeman said:
In conductors like metals, there is a band of electrons that is "shared" between the atoms. So the electrons in this conduction band are moving from atom to atom randomly anyway. when you apply a field down the wire with a battery or whatever, they still move mostly randomly, but tend to drift in the direction of the postive terminal of the battery or power supply.

You can look up the Band Theory of Solids for more info. Here is a brief wikipedia page on Conduction Band, with links to more info.

Thank you again that's what I was looking for. I appreciate your patience :biggrin:
 
  • #7
Jason
You have been told that you need a complete circuit for a current to flow. This is because you very soon run out of electrons to move along a piece of wire if there aren't fresh ones to enter and make up for the ones that have left. Actually adding or taking away electrons involves 'charging up' an object and this requires enormous voltages for even a small charge imbalance - much more than your average battery supplies.
If you have ever seen a Van der Graaff generator working you will have seen huge sparks but the actual amount of charge stored (and hence the average current flow as it discharges through your finger etc.) is very small.
 

Related to Questions on Electricity Generation

1. How is electricity generated?

Electricity is typically generated through the process of electromagnetic induction, where a magnet is rotated inside a coil of wire. This creates a flow of electrons, also known as an electrical current, which can then be harnessed and converted into usable electricity.

2. What are the different methods of electricity generation?

There are several methods of electricity generation, including fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas), nuclear power, hydroelectric power, wind power, solar power, and geothermal power. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages in terms of cost, efficiency, and environmental impact.

3. What is the role of electricity generation in climate change?

Electricity generation is a major contributor to climate change, as the burning of fossil fuels releases large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. This contributes to the warming of the planet and has significant impacts on the environment and human health.

4. How can we make electricity generation more sustainable?

One way to make electricity generation more sustainable is to shift towards renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydro power. Another approach is to improve the efficiency of electricity generation and reduce energy waste through technological advancements and energy conservation measures.

5. What are the future developments in electricity generation?

Some potential future developments in electricity generation include the increased use of renewable energy sources, advancements in energy storage technology, and the development of new, more efficient methods of electricity generation. There is also ongoing research and development in fusion energy, which has the potential to provide a virtually limitless source of clean energy.

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