Explain the underlying principle and working of an electric generator by drawing a labelled diagram. What is the function of brushes?

An electric generator converts mechanical energy into electrical energy.

The principle of working of an electric generator is that when a loop is moved in a magnetic field, an electric current is induced in the coil. It generates electricity by rotating a coil in a magnetic field. The following figure shows a simple AC generator.

MNST → Rectangular coil

A and B → Brushes

C and D → Two slip rings

X → Axle, G → Galvanometer

If axle Xis rotated clockwise, then the length MN moves upwards while length ST moves downwards. Since the lengths MN and ST are moving in a magnetic field, a current will be induced in both of them due to electromagnetic induction. Length MN is moving upwards and the magnetic field acts from left to right. Hence, according to Fleming’s right hand rule, the direction of induced current will be from M to N. Similarly, the direction of induced current in the length ST will be from S to T.

The direction of current in the coil is MNST. Hence, the galvanometer shows a deflection in a particular direction. After half a rotation, length MN starts moving down whereas length ST starts moving upward. The direction of the induced current in the coil gets reversed as TSNM. As the direction of current gets reversed after each half rotation, the produced current is called an alternating current (AC).

To get a unidirectional current, instead of two slip rings, two split rings are used, as shown in the following figure.

In this arrangement, brush A always remains in contact with the length of the coil that is moving up whereas brush B always remains in contact with the length that is moving down. The split rings C and D act as a commutator.

The direction of current induced in the coil will be MNST for the first rotation and TSNM in the second half of the rotation. Hence, a unidirectional current is produced from the generator called DC generator. The current is called AC current.

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