The easiest way to convert kinetic energy into electricity is through electromagnetic induction. It was a humble bookbinder with a Dickensian life story who first discovered electromagnetic induction. Michael Faraday was born into a religious working-class family in central London and apprenticed to a bookbinder at age 13. Rising through a combination of luck, ambition, skill and fortitude in the face of social class snobbery, Faraday became one of the greatest experimentalists in the history of science.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- 12-inch-by-12-inch pegboard (non-metallic)
- Copper wire, uninsulated
- Cardboard Toilet paper roll, paper removed
- Velcro cable tie, long enough to go through the toilet paper roll.
- Two eye bolts; they must fit your pegboard
- Two nuts
- Bar magnet, small enough to fit inside the toilet paper roll
- Electrical multimeter
Wrap the copper wire evenly around the empty toilet paper roll until the entire roll is covered in one layer of wire. Be sure to leave a 6-inch length of wire at the start and finish of the coil.
Secure the coil to the particle board with a Velcro cable tie. Thread an eye bolt at either end of the secured toilet paper roll and secure each with a nut. Wrap the extra lengths of wire from the beginning and end of your coil to the closest eye bolt.
Pass the bar magnet in and out of the coil. You are now converting the kinetic energy of the moving magnet to electricity. Verify this by setting your multimeter to DC volts and touching the red lead to one of the eye bolts and the black lead to the other eye bolt while passing the bar magnet in and out of the coil. You will see the meter move with each thrust of the magnet.
Tips and warnings
- Be like Faraday and experiment with your simple induction generator by using more wire in the coil, using a bigger magnet, or moving the magnet with more or less vigour. You can also reverse the process by holding the magnet still and moving the coil. Always record the measurements of the multimeter to see the differences these changes make.
- Always test your induction coil with a multimeter. This small set-up does not produce dangerous voltages, but safety demands sensible behaviour.
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