Electrical energy can be produced in one of two ways, using either heat or mechanical energy. At a thermal power plant, the combustion of oil, gas, coal or nuclear fission emits heat, causing a generator to rotate and produce electricity. Mechanical energy requires the force of the wind or the power of water to make the generator rotate.

The production of electricity using wind is relatively simple. A wind turbine is really a huge wheel equipped with blades. The force of the wind causes the generator to rotate and produce electrical energy.
 
In a nuclear power plant, uranium atoms are split to produce nuclear fission that emits a great deal of heat. The heat is used to transform water into steam that in turn causes a turbine coupled with a generator to rotate. Other thermal power plants use fossil fuels such as petroleum, gasoline, fuel-oil and even coal to boil water and generate steam. This energy is used to rotate a turbine connected to a generator. There are also gas turbine power plants where hot gas causes the turbine to rotate and activate the generator. 
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Electrical energy can be produced in one of two ways, using either heat or mechanical energy. At a thermal power plant, the combustion of oil, gas, coal or nuclear fission emits heat, causing a generator to rotate and produce electricity. Mechanical energy requires the force of the wind or the power of water to make the generator rotate.

The production of electricity using wind is relatively simple. A wind turbine is really a huge wheel equipped with blades. The force of the wind causes the generator to rotate and produce electrical energy.
 
In a nuclear power plant, uranium atoms are split to produce nuclear fission that emits a great deal of heat. The heat is used to transform water into steam that in turn causes a turbine coupled with a generator to rotate. Other thermal power plants use fossil fuels such as petroleum, gasoline, fuel-oil and even coal to boil water and generate steam. This energy is used to rotate a turbine connected to a generator. There are also gas turbine power plants where hot gas causes the turbine to rotate and activate the generator. 

Measurement Units

There are several units of measurement of electricity. These units often bear the name associated with a scientist who contributed to the study of electrical phenomena. Following are the main units used:

  • Volt: unit measuring the electromotive force required to produced an electric current, named in honour of Italian Alessandro Volta (1745-1827), the inventor of the electric cell, in 1800
  • Ampere: unit of electric current flow moving through a conductor for a precise amount of time, named in honour of André-Marie Ampère (1775-1836), who built a coil to create a magnetic field
  • Watt: unit measuring the power of an electric current, named in honour of James Watt (1736-1819), who made improvements to the first steam engine
  • Ohm: measurement of the electric resistance between two points in a conductor, named in honour of Georg Simon Ohm (1789-1854), the author of a law on electric current
  • Joule: unit that quantifies energy (electric, heat or other) named in honour of James Prescott Joule (1818-1889), who developed a theory on the conservation of energy
  • Hertz: unit that measures the frequency of alternating current, or the number of cycles per second, named in honour of Heinrich Hertz (1857-1894), who detected electromagnetic waves

© 2010, Cité de l'Énergie. All Rights Reserved.

Illustration symbolically representing volts.

volt (V) The volt measures the electromotive force or voltage of current in a conductor. Voltage, therefore, is the pressure exercised by electrons between two points of an electric circuit.

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Illustration symbolically representing watts.

watt (W) The watt measures the power of an electric current. This power is the result of pressure and available output (volts + amperes). In other words, the greater the pressure and quantity of electrons, the higher the wattage. The megawatt (Mw) is a derivative of the watt; it corresponds to one million watts.

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Illustration symbolically representing ohms.

ohm (Ω) The ohm measures the resistance of a conductor to electric current. In other words, the more electrons rub the sides of a conductor, the greater the number of ohms.

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Cité de l'énergie

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Illustration symbolically representing amperes.

ampere (A) The ampere measures the quantity of electric current in the conductor, meaning the flow rate of electrons. The more electrons, the greater the flow and the higher the number of amperes.

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Cité de l'énergie

© 2010, Cité de l'Énergie. All Rights Reserved.


Illustration symbolically watthours.

watthour (Wh) The watthour measures the quantity of electrical energy consumed in one hour. Household consumption of electricity is generally measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh), or 1000 watts per hour.

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© 2010, Cité de l'Énergie. All Rights Reserved.


Learning Objectives

In all six modules, the objectives are related to skill levels of science, technology and history adapted to Cycle One in the public school system.

Skill levels include:

Finding answers and solutions to scientific and technological problems;
Building on personal scientific and technological knowledge;
Communicating in language used in science and technology.

Questioning social realities from a historical perspective;
Interpreting social realities using the historical method;
Building citizenship awareness through history.

Learning about the world of technology heightens student awareness of technology as an integral part of the world around us. The study of engineering concepts serves to provide the student with tools to design and create a technical prototype. By studying mechanisms from the standpoint of forces, movement and the transformation of energy, the student will understand how certain technology systems work. 

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