Turns out Water and Electricity Really Do Mix

Niagara Falls feeds massive power plants for both America and Canada. All that power harnessed into, well, power.

Niagara Falls Power Plant

Canadian (left) and American (right) power plants on either side of the Niagara River

Safety First

My burning question: if we can’t use the hairdryer in the tub, how can water be used to generate electricity?

The answer: the water never touches the electricity. It provides the energy to move the generator, which in turn makes energy.

How Does it Work?

Water turns the turbine, which looks like fins to a layperson like me. Water is basically like the gas in a car–the engine and transmission are useless without gasoline. The turbine spins, which spins the generator, which sparks contact between copper and magnets: the essential ingredients for electricity.

You can’t see the electricity as it’s generated. There’s no Tesla’s arc on a daily basis. I’m both disappointed and relieved.

Tesla_Coil

Tesla’s Coils. Photo Courtesy of Bing.com

The electricity is harnessed through transformers, which look like massive blocks. Then to substations which route the electricity: the further (farther?) away it has to travel, the more amped up it is. And then it gets tiered down before entering towers, poles, and ultimately our homes.

Fun fact: this power plant sends electricity all the way to Georgia! And provides enough power for 2.5 million households in the U.S.

Energy saving tidbit: unplug your phone chargers when not charging – they still consume energy.

Niagara Falls Power Towers

Fields of Towers. Photos courtesy of Flickr

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What easy energy-saving tip can you share?

2 Responses

08.22.12

Since you asked (?). “Farther” when referring to distance. “Further” otherwise (e.g., he will get further in life).

Thanks, friend!

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