Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 71.djvu/354

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clearly enunciated as by him. And so it turned out in the years from 1860 to 1880, when the commercial dynamo was being perfected by Gramme, Wilde, Siemens, Crompton and others, that the machines designed specially to be good and economical generators of currents proved themselves to be far better and more efficient motors than any of the earlier machines which had been devised specially to work as electro-magnetic engines. Moreover, with the perfection of the dynamo came that cheap source of electric currents which was destined to supersede the battery. That a dynamo driven by a steam-engine furnishing currents on a large scale should be a more economical source of current than a battery in which zinc was consumed, does not appear to have ever occurred to the engineers who, in 1857, discussed the feasibility of electric motive power. Indeed, had any of them thought of it, they would have condemned the suggestion as chimerical. There was a notion abroad—and it persisted into the eighties—that no electric motor could possibly have an efficiency higher than 50 per cent. This notion, based on an erroneous understanding of the theoretical investigations of Jacobi, certainly delayed the progress of events. Yet the clearest heads of the time understood the matter more truly. The true law of efficiency was succinctly stated by Lord Kelvin in 1851, and was recognized by Joule in a paper written about the same date. In 1877 Mascart pointed out how the efficiency of a given magneto-electric machine rises with its speed up to a limiting value. In 1879 Lord Kelvin and Sir William Siemens gave evidence before a parliamentary committee as to the possible high efficiency of an electric transmission of power; and in August of the same year, at the British Association meeting at Sheffield, the essential theory of the efficiency of electric motors was well and admirably put in a lecture by Professor Ayrton. In 1882 the present author designed, in illustration of the theory, a graphic construction, which has been ever since in general use to make the principle plain. The counter-electromotive force generated by the motor when running, which Hunt and Tyndall deplored as a defect, is the very thing which enables the motor to appropriate and convert the energy of the battery. Its amount relatively to the battery's own electromotive force is the measure of the degree to which the energy which would otherwise be wasted as heat is utilized as power. Pure science stepped in, then, to confirm the possibility of a high efficiency in the electric motor per se. But pure science was also brought into service in another way. An old and erroneous notion, which even now is not quite dead, was abroad to the effect that the best way of arranging a battery was so to group its component cells that its internal resistance should be equal to the resistance of the rest of the circuit. If this were true, then no battery could ever have an efficiency of more than 50 per cent. It was supposed in many quarters that