An electric generator is a machine that converts mechanical energy into electrical energy. An electric generator is based on the principle that whenever flux is cut by a conductor, an e.m.f. is induced which will cause a current to flow if the conductor circuit is closed. The direction of induced e.m.f. (and hence current) is given by Fleming’s right hand rule. Therefore, the essential components of a generator are:
(a) a magnetic field
(b) conductor or a group of conductors
(c) motion of conductor w.r.t. magnetic field.
Simple Loop Generator
Consider a single turn loop ABCD rotating clockwise in a uniform magnetic field with a constant speed as shown in Fig.(1.1). As the loop rotates, the flux linking the coil sides AB and CD changes continuously. Hence the e.m.f. induced in these coil sides also changes but the e.m.f. induced in one coil side adds to that induced in the other.
(i) When the loop is in position no. 1 [See Fig. 1.1], the generated e.m.f. is zero because the coil sides (AB and CD) are cutting no flux but are moving parallel to it
(ii) When the loop is in position no. 2, the coil sides are moving at an angle to the flux and, therefore, a low e.m.f. is generated as indicated by point 2 in Fig. (1.2).
(iii) When the loop is in position no. 3, the coil sides (AB and CD) are at right angle to the flux and are, therefore, cutting the flux at a maximum rate. Hence at this instant, the generated e.m.f. is maximum as indicated by point 3 in Fig. (1.2).
(iv) At position 4, the generated e.m.f. is less because the coil sides are cutting the flux at an angle.
(v) At position 5, no magnetic lines are cut and hence induced e.m.f. is zero as indicated by point 5 in Fig. (1.2).
(vi) At position 6, the coil sides move under a pole of opposite polarity and hence the direction of generated e.m.f. is reversed. The maximum e.m.f. in this direction (i.e., reverse direction, See Fig. 1.2) will be when the loop is at position 7 and zero when at position 1. This cycle repeats with each revolution of the coil.
Note that e.m.f. generated in the loop is alternating one. It is because any coil side, say AB has e.m.f. in one direction when under the influence of N-pole and in the other direction when under the influence of S-pole. If a load is connected across the ends of the loop, then alternating current will flow through the load. The alternating voltage generated in the loop can be converted into direct voltage by a device called commutator. We then have the d.c. generator. In fact, a commutator is a mechanical rectifier.