Extended experimental investigation – generating electricity Essay

Background Information:

The history of electrisity leads right back to more than two thousand years ago. Ancient Greeks discovered that rubbing fur on amber caused an attraction between the two. Many electricity-related discoveries had been made by the 17th century, including the differentiation between negative and positive currents, the classification of matireals as conductors or insulators , and the invention of the of a basic electrostatic generator. Continuing on to 1600’s, William Gilbert, an English Physician, connected the term electic with the force that certain substances create when rubbed against another. In 1800 Alessandro Volta invented an early electric battery he called a Voltaic pile. This produced a steady electric current, and this lead to the discovery that particular chemical reactions created electricity.

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Only once Michael Faraday created the ‘Faraday disk’ (the first power generator) along with the theory of Electromagnetic induction [1](“Faraday’s Law, discovered in 1831 by Michael Faraday, states that the induced electromotive force in a closed circuit is equal to the time rate of change of the magnetic flux through the circuit. Under Faraday’s Law, electric current is induced only if either the magnetic field is changing or the conductor is moving. Generators, for example, spin a coil of wire around a magnet to produce a steady current” [3]) did electricity become viable for use in technology. Since this electricity and the inventions that came with it has exploded as the worlds knowledge of electromagnitism has broadends and advances. Through the expansion of electromagnatism, various types of generators have been schemed and tested against others for efficiency. Almost all of these generators involved permanent magnets to create the necessary magnetic fields. One of the most recognised versions of the generator was the first hand-cranked generator built by Hippolyte Pixii based on Michael Faraday’s principle of electromagnetic induction. This device was a spinning magnet, spun by a hand crank, where the south and north poles passed over a coil with an iron core. Each time the pole passed over a coin a Current Pulse was excerted. This hand-cranked generator was the first of its kind and now the basis of many self-powered devices such as torches. By 1895, electricity was widley avaliable in large cities. Although today’s life would be almost impossible for most without electricity, it is also the causes various enviromental issues. This environmental impact of electricity generation is significantly due to modern society’s use of large amounts of eletrical power requirments. All forms of electricity generation have some level of environmental impact.

This comes as a problem as currently the most efficient forms of electricity generation are the most hazardous to the environment. Fossil fuel power plants produce carbon dioxid into the air causeing polution, require large amounts of water for cooling and can destroy large tracts of land during the mining of these fossil fuels. Nuclear power plants produce large quantites of radioactive waste that currently cannot be disposed off without damaging the environment around. All this hazardous waste produced by energy facilities affect the environment and the fauna and flora that excist in the affected areas. Since the original concept of the electric generator there have been many improvements and modifications in an attempt to improve efficiency.

Throughout this development the electric generator has been experimented and modified to uses a various range of different techniques including chemical, friction, heat, light and pressure. As energy can never be created nor lost, electric energy can only be produced through the convertion of a different form of energy, which include: chemical energy, friction energy, heat energy, light energy, pressure energy and nuclear energy. Almost all of these forms invole magnetism. Magnetism is a force produced by a magnetic object, this force attracts or repells, however acting from distance. This force is caused by the magnetic field produced from the magnetised object. A magnetic field consists of lines that trace from the north pole of a magnetic object to the south pole. The denser the field lines the stronger the magnetic field. Due to the direction of these lines, like-magnetic poles repel while opposites attract.


Electricity is almost vital to everyday lives, and electricity can be created through magnets. Within this report the corolations between magnetic fields and electricity will be investigated though the arrangement of numourous variables to see how these variables effect efficency of a self-made electric generator.


To determine how to achieve the maximum amount of volts from a self-made generator.


The larger the magnet, the greater the EMF.

The larger the coil diameter, the greater the voltage produced.

The higher the velocity, the greater the change in field lines, resulting in a higher voltage.

The larger quantity of magnets, the greater the EMF.

The greater quantity of wraps in the coil, the greater voltage produced.

The greater the EMF, the greater the voltage produced.


Copper Wire
10mm x 3mm (x2)
9.5mm x 3mm (x8)
Blue tack
Electrical tape/ masking tape
Sand paper
Pliewood board
15mm dowel
4mm bolt
Bunsen Burner
Iron filings

Risk Assessment

Keep clear of open flames
Wear safety glasses
Cool under running water
An Ice pack
Call 000
Make sure you keep electrical equipment away from any liquid substances Call 000
Be safe with any sharp equipment
Wear safety glasses
First Aid
Always be cautious of all magnets
First Aid


Building final generator
6 stacked coiled shaped from copper wire into a circle with a diameter of 4cm with 10 wraps each, leaving 2 cm between each coil. On both ends of the coil, hold wire above blue flame of the Bunson Burner as to eliminate the enamlle coating to allow proper connection. Once the wire has cooled, use electrical tape to hold each coil firmly together Tape stacked coils in a circular shape being sure to keep wire traveling in one direction (do not flip or twist wire between each coil) Using Pliewood board, drill a 15.5mm hole in the center.

Tape coil to the pliewood with the drilled hole in the center of the stacked coils. Drill a 4mm hole at the end of the 15mm dowel
Thread 4mm bolt through the drilled hole.
Insert dowel into the hole in the Pliewood, being sure the bolt is on the same side as the coils. Place 1 x (10mm x 3mm) magnet and 4 x (9.5mm x 3mm) at each end of the bolt. (opposite poles facing the coil) For extra security place blue tack between magnets and bolt. Using the magnets as a spacer, mark a line on the dowel where the dowel meets the pliewood, being sure the magnets have at least 3mm of space between magnets and coil. Wrap electrical tape around dowel several times with the bottom edge of the tape being on the marked line. (this will stop the magnets from coming in contact with the coils.) Connect the oscilloscope using clips. Adjust oscilloscope to disired settings. Tests were taken to measure the amount of voltage produced by the generator.

Testing Magnetic field strenths of magnet sizes
Place iron filings jar upside down. Lid of the jar should be the base. Using the 12mm x 5mm magnet, place on the flat glass top.
Tape magnet firmly to the jar.
Rotating the jar a full 360 degrees as to allow files to come within the range of magnetic field of magnet. Place back on its base (lid)
Record results (width and length of filings
Repeat steps 1-6 with 10mm x 3mm, 9.5mm x 6.3mm

Testing magnets at angles
Warp a coil with a 4cm diameter 10 times
Secure the coil with tape
Burn the tips of the wire with blue flame from a bunsen burner Connect to a oscilloscope
Using a paddle pop, gluetack a single magnet (use same sized magnet for each test) to the end. Using one of the following positions: Magnet on flat side facing outwards
Magnet on the tip of paddle pop stick, facing front on
Using a steady, controlled motion:
Run the magnet through the centre of the coil, continuing this motion in and out until you receive a clear reading Rotate the magnet to the left of the coil
Rotate magnet to the right of the coil
Rotate magnet in front of coil
Record data from oscilloscope
Repeat steps 5-7 using one of each of the variables each time.until all variables have been tested

Testing coils of different diameters
Creat a coil with
10 wraps with a diameter of 4cm
10 wraps with a diameter of 6cm
10 warps with a diameter of 8cm
50 warps with a diameter of 8cm
50 warps with a diameter of 4cm
Gluetack a magnet to the end of a paddle pop stick
Using a steady, controlled motion, run the magnet through the centre of the coil, continuing this motion in and out until you receive a clear reading. Record data from oscilloscope
Repeat steps 3 & 4 for each coil size.


Independent variable
Effect on EMF
What have you found? (What is the rule for this variable)
List control variables, and methods of control
List evidence. (Justify your rule)
Size of magnet
The larger the magnet, the larger the field.
Same coil size and distance from coil

When the magnet is of a larger surface area, it has a greater magnetic field, producing more volts. Coil orientation
The EMF is greatest when the magnet is right angles to the coil. Same sized magnet

When the magnet is at right angles to the coil, it produces a greater voltage as more magnetic field lines are crossed Size of coil (diameter)
When the coil is small, the EMF is not very high.
Magnet size, distance from coil, same number of turns

When the coil has a larger diameter, more field lines can be crossed when a magnet is near Size of coil (turns)
The greater the turns in a coil, the greater the EMF.
Magnet size, distance from coil, same number of turns

When the coil is thicker, the EMF is stronger, therefore more voltage


Throuhgout the weeks of creating the Generator for this EEI, the generator itself changed in many aspects from the original concept. However the final resultant was still had minimal success. The final design of the electricity generator involved a ‘T’ piece hand crank using a 6mm bolt and 15mm dowel. Two sets of one 10mm x 3mm and four 6mm x 3mm where placed at each end of the bolt, directly above a 6-stack coil, where each coil was 4cm in diameter
and had 30 wraps in each coil. These magnets were places smallest to largest from the bolt. Opposite poles faced the coils (one set North, the other set South) This model used a method of spinning the dowel, causing the magnets to rotate over the coil in return generating electricity. the final model created 0.25V.

Before the final design was created, many ideas and concepts were taken into consideration and experiments where conducted to test efficiecny. The original design idea for this generator involved a fork like hand crank with magnets positioned at the tips of the fork and coil in the centre. Although this model was never tested, other similar experiments were preformed and in return this model did not seem as efficient as others. The second model was a reverse of the original design, involving the magnets rotating in the centre of the coil rather than the outside, however similar to the first design idea, according to the right angle rule; along with the dificulty of having the magnets spin on the inside resulted in more modifications and a re-draw of the generator. The final design was devised after multiple experiments showed that using certain variables, an efficient generator could be created. These variables included the position of magnets and coils, the size and consistency of coils, the size of magnets, the methods of rotating magnets and whether or not to stack coils. As the final design used sturdy materials, the generator was strong and consistent, however the added weight restricted the maximum velocity that could be created, partly effecting efficiency.

The final results of this generator and its effiency were unsatisfactory. This generator requires futher modifications and improvement to allow it to reach a higher voltage production. Modifications such as the material it is made of could assist in higher velocity of the magnets which would in return increase voltage production. A major obstruction of velocity was where the base and dowel touched. This created a lot of friction restricting the velocity of the spinning dowel. The use of a skateboard bearing would decrease friction marginally. Another modification would be to introduce a handle to the dowel, this would allow for greater control of velocity.


In conclusion the self-made generator needs further improvement and modification, as it did not reach the disired Voltage production. The velocity was not substancial enough to create large amounts of electricity and as stated in the hypotheses, ‘The higher the velocity, the greater the change in field lines, resulting in a higher voltage.’ The generator required a higher velocity to be more effcient.


[1]Coffey, Jerry. “Who Discovered Electricity.” Universe Today RSS. N.p., 12 Jan. 2010. Web. 02 Sept. 2013. [2]Henry, Tom. “The History of Electricity.” History of Electricity. Code Electrical Classes Inc., 2013. Web. 02 Sept. 2013 [3] BBC, National Academy of Sciences, Cassidy et. al.

[4]”Power Standards Lab – Early History of Electric Power.” Power Standards Lab – Early History of Electric Power. 2012 Power Standards Lab, 2012. Web. 02 Sept. 2013.


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