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Chapter 1 Basic Electrical System

MEV 390

ACTIONS OF ELECTRIC CURRENT


A current flow in a circuit or electrolyte can bring about the following actions:
1. Heat generation.
2. Magnetic action.
3. Chemical action.

1. HEAT GENERATING ACTION OF ELECTRIC CURRENT


HEAT GENERATION
When current is applied to the cigarette lighter in an automobile, the nichrome wire in
the cigarette lighter hets up and become red. This is because the electric energy is
consumed by the nichrome wires resistance and converted into heat energy. The action
which generates heat when current flows in a resistance is called the heat generating
action of current.

A unit called joule is commonly used to indicate the amount of energy expended. This
unit is represented by the symbol J.
1 joule is equal to 1 Ws; in other words, 1 joule is as the amount of electric energy
generated by 1A of current flowing through 1Q of resistance for 1 second. Therefore, we
may say 1W represents the capacity of electrical power to do 1J of work in 1 second.

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The amount of energy generated by 12V creating 6A of current for 20seconds can be
determined as follows:
W

=VxIxt
= 12x6x20
= 1440 Ws
= 1440 J

Heat energy is measured by a unit called calorie (cal), and is represented by the symbol
H.
The following relationship exists between the calorie and electric energy:
1J 0.24 cal
In other words, when 1 J of electric energy is converted entirely into heat, it will yield
approximately 0.24cal of heat. Therefore, electrical energy, expressed in Ws (W = P x t)
is converted into heat which is represented by the following expressions:
H

= 0.24 W
= 0.24 P x t
= 0.24 V x I x t
= 0.24 R x I x t

This is called joules law and heat which is generated when current flow through
resistance is called Joule heat.
The 1440 J of electrical energy generated by 12 V at 6A in the example is equal to the
following amount of heat.
H

= 0.24W
= 0.24 x 1440
= 345.6 cal

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The quantity of heat created when a 55 W headlight, powered by a 12 V battery is lit for
30 minutes can be determined as follows:
H = 0.24W
= 0.24 x 55 x 30 x 60
= 23 760 cal

2. MAGNETIC ACTION OF ELECTRIC CURRENT


One important function of electricity is creating magnetism. This section discusses the
nature of magnetism and the relationship between electricity and magnetism.
Magnet
From experience, we all know there is magnetism around magnet. A magnet attracts
metals because it has the quality called magnetism. Something that has magnetism is
called magnet.
When the magnet is place in a jar of iron filings, the fillings stick to the end of the
magnet, but almost none stick to the central portion of magnet.The part of magnet
where magnetism is the stronger are called magnetic poles or simply poles.

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When a bar magnet is held by a string, the magnet will point to the south and north
poles of the earth.The pole of the magnet that points to the earths north poles is called
the N (north) pole.The pole that point to the south is called the S (south) pole.

When two magnetized needles are placed close to each other, the like poles (the S
poles, for example) will repel each other while the unlike poles (the N pole and the S
pole) will attract each other. These attracting and repelling forces are collectively called
magnetic field.

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Magnetic field and magnetic flux.


When iron filings are sprinkled over a piece of glass and a horseshoe magnetic is
put under the glass, the filing will arrange themselves in a special formation as
illustrated below.
This proves that the iron filings are affected by the N and S poles of the magnet.

The iron filings seem to be scattered along invisible lines.


These invisible lines are individually called magnetic lines of force and collectively
magnetic flux.
Even if there are no fillings to manifest these magnetic lines of force, they are
regarded as exixting around the magnet.
When the N pole of one magnet and the S pole of another are place near one
another under a piece of glass, with iron fillings sprinkled on it, we can easily tell that
they attact each other , as shown in the illustration to the left at the picture below.
The magnetic flux can be illustrated by a drawing show as that shown to the right.

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When poles of the same polarity (N and N, or S and S poles) are placed near each
other, as at the left below, we can see that they repel each other. The repelling
magnetic flux can be illustrated by a drawing, as shown to the right below.

Magnetic flux has several characteristics.

Magnetic flux start from N pole and ends at the S pole of a magnet or magnets.
The direction of magnetic flux coincides with the direction in which the N pole of a
magnetic needle points if the needle is put in the box.
Like rubber bands, the magnetic lines of force in a flux attempt to keep
themselves as short as possible, so they tend to stay as parallel with and as
close to the N-S axis of the magnetic field as possible. At the same time,
however they also attempt to repel other magnetic lines of force that are going in
the same direction, so they also tend to arch outward as much as necessary from
the N-S axis of magnetic field.

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ELECTRIC CURRENT AND MAGNETISM


Lets assume we orient a wire in the north-south direction, and apply current to it, as
illustrated. When a magnetic needle is placed directly under the wire, the N pole of the
magnetic needle will turn until it is pointing to the west, perpendicular to the wire. This is
because the magnetic field, similar to that which exists around the wire and the needle
is influenced by the magnetic force.

Now, if a piece of paper and a wire are set up all shown in the next page, and iron
fillings sprinkled over the paper, the iron fillings will line up along concentric circles
around the wire when current is applied to the wire. Furthermore, the density of the iron
fillings will be greater nearer the wire, indicating that there is a stronger magnetic field
there.

Now, lets put several small magnetic needles on the paper. The needles will point in
the direction shown below. We can tell the direction of the magnetic flux from the

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direction in which the needles point: The direction of current and the direction of the
magnetic flux can be expressed by Amperes rule of the right-hand screw.

When current flows in the direction of the travel of a right-hand screw as it is being
screwed in, a magnetic flux is generated in the direction of the force that turns the screw

The relationship between the direction of current and the direction of the magnetic flux
is as shown below:

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NOTE
The x in the circle representing a cross-section of a wire indicates that the
current is flowing away from the reader; the dot indicates that it is in flowing
towards the reader.
Now lets see what happens to the magnetic flux when we have a circular conductor
rather than a straight wire.\When the straight conductor is gradually bent, as shown by
A through D below, it becomes a circular coil, as in D, and since the fluxes around each
individual point are going in the same direction inside the loop (in this case, clockwise,
when seen from below), they combine to create much larger, more powerful flux.

In other words, when current flows in a coil, the direction of the magnetic flux is such
that N and S poles are created in the coil as shown below ;

When a conductor is wound in a tubular-shaped coil, it is called a solenoid.

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When current flows in a solenoid, the direction of the magnetic flux is such that the S
pole is created under the solenoid and the N pole above it. The number of magnetic
lines of force also increases in proportion to the number of turns of the coil.

When the current flows in a solenoid, the number of magnetic lines of force increases in
proportion to the strength of the current. The principle of the solenoid described above
can be used to perform work relays are often based on this principle. If we place a
movable, easily-magnetized piece of metal below the solenoid, the metal piece should
move toward the solenoid. This is because the magnetic field produced by the solenoid
should magnetize the metal piece and therefore attract it. In fact, however, if we actually
try to construct such a device, we will find that it will not work because the strength of
the magnetic field is not large enough to magnetize the metal.
But if we put an iron core inside the solenoid, many more magnetic lines of force are
created. As a result, the solenoid attracts the metal piece very strongly. This is because
in addition to the flux created by the coil itself, the iron core also becomes magnetized
and it creates many more lines of force

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ELECTROMAGNETIC FORCE
An electromagnetic force is a force that acts on a conductor when current flows in the
conductor within a magnetic field. It is utilized to operate starter and wiper motors and
the pointers of ammeters, voltmeters, etc.
Direction of electromagnetic force
Lets assume the N and S poles of a magnet are placed near each other and a
conductor is put between them. Then current is applied to the conductor.

The following can be said about the magnetic flux created in this case. There are a
smaller number of magnetic lines of force above the conductor since the direction of the
magnetic fluxes created by the magnet and the direction of those created by the current
oppose each other. In contrast, there are a larger number of magnetic lines of force
under the conductor as their directions coincide.
This tendency is stronger under the conductor than above it. Therefore, a force is
generated that tends to push the conductor upward. This force (F) is called and
electromagnetic force. The direction of an electromagnetic force can be determined
from another rule called Flemings left-hand rule. To understand this rule, open your left
hand with thumb pointing perpendicular to the index finger and the index finger
perpendicular to the middle finger. Then, point the index finger in the direction of the
magnetic flux and the middle finger in the direction of the current. The direction of the
thumb points will be the direction in which the conductor moves.

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3. CHEMICAL ACTION OF ELECTRIC CURRENT


When two metal plates are placed in an aqueous solution of salt or sulfuric acid and a
lamp and battery are connected by wires to the plates, the lamp will light up. This
proves that an electrical circuit has been formed and current is flowing through the liquid
solution. When electricity flows in such a solution, chemical action takes place on the
surfaces of the metal places.

Batteries are charged by chemical reaction such as this. This type of chemical is also
used in electrolysis to manufacture hydrogen and oxygen, perform electroplating, etc.

ELECTROMAGNETIC INDUCTION
Magnetic flux lines generate a voltage in a conductor if either the field or the conductor
is moving. This is called ad induced voltages, and the process is called electromagnetic
induction. Voltage is induced by relative motion between the conductor and field. This
can happen in three ways :
1. The conductor can move through a stationary field, figure 7.29
2. The field can move past or around a stationary conductor, figure 7.30
3. The flux lines of a magnetic field expend or collapse as current flow increase or
decreases through a conductor, figure 7.31

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Figure 7.29. An ac voltage is induced as a rotating conductor cuts though the flux lines of a stationary
magnetic field. (Prestolite)

Figure 7.30 An ac voltage is induced as the flux lines of a rotating magnet cut though a stationary
conductor. (Delco-Remy)

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Figure 7.31 as a magnetic field expands and contracts, the relative motion of the changing flux density
induces voltage in a conductor.

All the three method are used to induce voltage in automobile electrical system. The
first two ways depend on mechanical movement of the conductor or a magnet and are
easy to visualize. The third way depends on the motion of increasing or decreasing
magnetic energy and is not as easy to visualize.
If you put a loop conductor in the field between two stationary magnets and rotate the
conductor, you will induce a voltage in the conductor, figure 7.29. Polarity of the voltage
changes every half revolution because the rotating conductor cuts the flux lines in
opposite directions. Therefore, current that results from the induced voltage is
alternating current. This is the method used in older generators for automobiles.
If you put a magnet inside a stationary conductor loop and rotate the magnet, you also
create relative motion between the field and the second conductor, figure 7.30. Again,
the induced voltage changes polarity with every half revolution because the direction of
the flux lines passing through the conductor changes. Current flow from this voltage
also is alternating current. This method is used in the alternator of your car, and you will
learn more about this when you study charging system.
As current flow increases and decreases through the conductor, the resulting magnetic
field expands and contracts, that is, it becomes more and less dense. If you put another
conductor in this field, voltage will be induced in this conductor as you create relative
motion between the magnetic field and the second conductor. This is the kind of relative
motion that exist in ignition coils and transformer.

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Self induction as current flow through a coil; the magnetic field expands and induces a
voltage in the coil that opposes the direction of current that created the field in the first
place. This counter voltage is called counter electromotive force (CEMF). As original
current increase, CEMF opposes its increase. As original current decrease, CEMF
opposes the decrease. If the current is steady, there is no relative motion between the
coil and the field, and there is no induced voltage. Induction occurs only when the field
expands or collapse.
Mutual induction. If you place two coils close together, you can transfer through the
first coil, its increase or decrease causes the field around the first coil to increase or
decrease. This changing field will induce a voltage in a second coil. In practice, the two
coils are wound around each other and around an iron core to increase the field
strength. One coil is connected to a current and voltage source and is called the primary
winding. This is the coil winding that induced the voltage. The second coil is connected
to another circuit. This is the coil winding in which the voltage is induced and is called
the secondary winding.
Changing current in the primary winding induce a counter voltage in both the primary
and secondary windings. There is a direct relationship between the number of turn in
the coil and the voltage that can be induced. Therefore, induction coils are made with
secondary winding that have many more turns than the primary windings. In this way,
low voltage in the primary can induce much higher voltage in the secondary. An ignition
coil is an excellent example.
Induce voltage strength. Four factor affect the strength of the voltage induce in any of
the three ways explain here:

The amount of current in a coil and thus the strength of the magnetic field. High
current flow and strong field induce a high voltage.
The number of conductors cutting the flux lines. Many turns in a coil secondary
winding or many conductors in an alternator will cause a higher induce voltage.
The speed of relative motion between the conductor and the flux line. A rapidly
expanding or collapsing field or fast moving conductor will cause a higher induce
voltage.
The angle at which the conductor and flux line are parallel, the conductor and the
flux line are at 90 degrees to each other, the conductor cuts the most possible
lines, and the greatest voltage is induce.

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CAPACITANCE
Capacitance is the ability or capacity of two conducting surfaces to store an electric
charge, or voltage, when they are separated by an insulator. A device that has this
ability is a capacitor. A capacitor also is called a condenser because electric charge
collects, or condenses, on the plates as water vapor condense on a cold glass.
Capacitance is an electrical feature that operates in many areas of automobile. The
principle that opposite + and charges attract each other leads to the idea that there is
field of electrical energy or potential voltage, between any two oppositely charged
points. This is called an electrostatic field because the charged do not move. They are
stored at the two points of static electricity. If you can cause the opposite charges to
collect on two surfaces, you can build a simple capacitor to store voltage.
A simpler capacitor consists of two conductive plates, usually metal such as aluminum,
zinc, steel, or copper. A conductor is attached to each plate, and an insulator is placed
between them. The insulator might be nothing more than the air in the space between
the plates, or it might be some none conductive material such as ceramic, glass, paper,
or plastic. This insulator is called a dielectric.
If you install this capacitor in a circuit and start current flow by closing the switch,
electron begin to flow from the battery around the circuit toward one plate of the
capacitor. Because the electron cant flow through the dielectric, they collect on one
plate which become negatively charged. Simultaneously, electrons also flow from the

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opposite plate of the capacitor toward the positive terminal of the battery. This plate
then becomes positively charged.
Current flows only as long as it takes for the positive and the negative voltage different
across the capacitor plate to equal the positive and negative difference of the battery
and the negative plate of the capacitor are at the same negative potential. The positive
plate and the positive battery terminal are at equal positive potential. The voltage
charges across the capacitor and across the battery are equal, and no more current will
flow because the dielectric of the capacitor creates an open circuit. The charges on the
capacitor will not change as long as the plates are not connected to each other or to
some other point with a different potential.
Capacitors are rated in farads (F). One farad is a very large, so the capacitors in
automobiles and other electronic system have capacitance of microfarad, which is onemillionth (0.000001) of a farad. Three factors affect capacitance:
1. The large plate area, the larger the charge the capacitor can hold because there
is a larger area on which the charges can collect.
2. The closer the plates, the larger the charge because a strong electrostatic field
exist between opposite charges that are close together.
3. The better the insulating qualities of the dielectric, the higher the capacitance.

Unlike a resistor, a capacitor does not consume any power or change any energy in a
circuit. All of the voltage stored on a capacitor is returned to a circuit when it is
discharged. The capacitance of a capacitor can be fixed or variable.
Because capacitors will store voltage, they will slow down any voltage change in a
circuit. They are often used to absorb voltage changes in a circuit and thus shock
absorbers. A capacitor has low resistance to current flow until it is charged. Then its
resistance is infinite.
If you connect a capacitor in parallel across a 12 volt circuit, initial current flow charges
the capacitor and then flows through other device in the circuit.

The circuit, a high voltage pulse hits the circuit (as can happen in an automobile), the
capacitor absorbs the extra voltage as an additional charge before the current can
damage any other part of the circuit. Capacitor also are used as short circuit shunts to
cause current to stop quickly when a circuit is open. Also, a capacitor can store a high
voltage charge and then discharge it quickly when connected across a circuit that needs
the voltage. These are a few of the general uses for capacitor in automobile systems
that you will discover in this text.

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