The Mazda Light Bulb 1909 General Electric Company
One of the largest technological advancments happened in the early 1900s. Alternating current and the physics and technology to produce this new form of energy had advance enough that light and eletricity moved from a novelty to a technology that the rest of our advanment hearafter would not be possable.
AC Power was developed by George Westinghouse and Nikola Tesla in the early 1900's through Westinghouse Electric Company.
This battle was called the War of the Currents. Westinghouse eventual won out and AC Power went main stream in the 1900s due to its ability to be be steeped up or down through a transformer and transmitted long distances thus changing our environment forever.
The first large scale hydroelectric power plants were built in Niagara Falls USA & Canada in the early 1900's harnessing the massive amount of water of the Niagara River and the 200' drop over the falls to generate AC power using the newest cutting edge technology of the time.
What is hydro electricity? Hydro power uses the potential of falling water to spin a turbine with in turn coverts that power to mechanical energy to turn a large generator. The generator is made of magnets which spins inside a coil of copper wires which induces a flow of electrons that we call electricity.
These grand power plants were built in a Neo Classical style of architecture. They are beautiful building, temples to the monstrous forces that take place inside their walls. Lets travel through some of these plants, following the flow of water to discover the marvels of engineering built over 100 years ago.
Water enters the plant above the falls through the forebay. This is the Rankine plant built in 1905.
Inside this beauitiful room with ionic collums, dental molding and marble walls one ofthe generators sits juxtaposed with its industrial style.
In this particular plant a 140' pit was dug through solid rock to take advantage of the head maximizing the power of the falling water. The farther the water falls the faster and more kinetic energy it has.
These massive pipes are call penstocks, which in this plant are 10' in diameter. They funnel vast amounts of water to the bottom of the wheel pit.
The water is funneled around scroll cases and hits massive turbines that spin from the force of the water. They work the same was as a propeller but in reverse.
Huge shafts connected to the turbines run all the way back to the top of the plant where the generators are ready to turn the turbines to create electricity.
The exhaust water flows away from the turbines into the exhaust tunnels under the plant called a tailrace. From here the water flows into the lower gorge and is discharge back into the Niagara River below the falls.
This plant has huge Surge Tanks above the plant where extra water collects and flows out of the plant directly to the river redirecting sudden surges of water away from the plant so it does not get damaged from over pressure if to much water tries to enter. This system of technology is simple but keeps the great forces in balance. Now these tanks are used as the platform where the lights are use to illuminate the falls at night.
New eletric distrbution systems made of conducting material such as copper trasmit power through wires to the enduser vastly changing our modern landscpae forever.
Louis Comfort Tiffany designed lamps made of stained glass in the Art Nouveau style using electric light. The industrial technology and design of massive power plants in turn helped artists create new kind of art taking advantage of the new technology of the day.