Electric Current and Its Effects

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Our ancestors relied on fire for light, warmth and cooking. Today at the flick of a switch, turn off a knob or the push of a button we've instant power. This is possible because of the electric current. It is one of the important discoveries that helped us revolutionise the way we live. From the time we wake up till the time we sleep in the night, our life is dependent on electricity. From the television that you simply watch to the toaster that you use to toast bread, all run on current. Besides playing a serious part in reception , electricity also plays a crucial role in industries, transportation and communication. In this article, let us learn more about this important resource that we are highly dependent on.

 

What is Electric Current?

Electric Current is the rate of flow of electrons during a conductor. The SI Unit of electrical current is the Ampere. Electrons are minute particles that exist within the molecular structure of a substance. Sometimes, these electrons are tightly held and the other times they are loosely held. When electrons are loosely held by the nucleus, they are able to travel freely within the limits of the body. Electrons are negatively charged particles hence when they move a number of charges moves and we call this movement of electrons as electric current. It should be noted that the amount of electrons that are ready to move governs the power of a specific substance to conduct electricity. Some materials allow current to maneuver better than others.

 

What is an Electromotive Force?

The motion of free electrons is normally haphazard. If a force acts on electrons to make them move in a particular direction, then up to some extent random motion of the electrons will be eliminated. An overall movement in one direction is achieved. The force that acts on the electrons to make them move in a certain direction is known as electromotive force and its quantity is known as voltage and is measured in volts.

 

Unit of Electric Current

The magnitude of electric current is measured in coulombs per second. The SI unit of electrical current is Ampere and is denoted by the letter A. Ampere is defined together as a coulomb of charge moving past some extent in one second. If there are 6.241 x 1018 electrons flowing through our frame one second then the electrical current flowing through it's ‘One Ampere.’

The unit Ampere is widely used within electrical and electronic technology alongside the multipliers like milliamp (0.001A), microamp (0.000001A), then forth.

 

Visualizing Electric Current

To gain a deeper understanding of what an electrical current is and the way it behaves during a conductor, we will use the hookah analogy of electricity. Certainly, there are some limitations but they serve as a very basic illustration of current and current flow.

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We can compare the electrical current to the water flowing through the pipe. When pressure is applied to one end of the pipe, the water is forced to flow through the pipe in one direction. The amount of water flow is proportional to the pressure placed on the top. This pressure can be compared to the electromotive force.

 

Conventional Current Flow vs Electron Flow

There is tons of confusion around conventional current flow and electron flow. In this section, let us understand their differences.

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Conventional Current Flow

The conventional current flow works from positive to the negative terminal and indicates the direction that positive charges would flow.

 

Electron Flow

The electron flow moves from a negative terminal to a positive terminal. Electrons are charged and are therefore interested in the positive terminal as unlike charges attract.

 

Properties of Electric Current

  • Electric current is a crucial quantity in electronic circuits. We have adapted electricity in our lives such a lot that it becomes impossible to imagine life without it. Therefore, it is important to know the properties of the electric current.

  • We know that current is the results of the flow of electrons. The work wiped out moving the electron stream is understood as electricity. The electricity is often converted into other sorts of energy like heat, light energy, etc. 

  • There are two sorts of current referred to as AC (AC) and DC (DC). The direct current can flow only in one direction, whereas the alternating direction flows in two directions. Direct current is not used as a primary energy source in industries. It is mostly used in low voltage applications such as charging batteries, aircraft applications, etc. Alternating current is used to operate appliances for both household and industrial and commercial use.

  • The electric current is measured in ampere. One ampere of current represents one coulomb of electrical charge moving past a selected point in one second.

  • The conventional direction of an electrical current is that the direction during which a charge would move. Henceforth, the present flowing within the external circuit is directed faraway from the positive terminal and toward the negative terminal of the battery.

 

Effects of Electric Current

When a current flows through a conductor, there are a number of signs which tell if a current is flowing or not. Following are the most prominent signs:

 

Heating Effect of Electric Current

When our clothes are crumpled, we use the iron box to make our clothes crisp and neat. On the principle of heating effect of current, iron box works. There are many such devices that employ the heating effect.

When an electrical current flows through a conductor, heat is generated within the conductor.

The heating effect is given by the following equation

H=I²RT


The Heating Effect Depends on the Following Factor:

  • The time ‘t‘ for which the current flows. The longer the current flows in a conductor more heat is generated.

  • The electrical resistance of the conductor. Higher the resistance, the higher the heat produced.

  • The amount of current. The larger the amount of current higher the heat produced.

If the present is little then the quantity of warmth generated is probably going to be very small and should not be noticed. However, if the present is larger then it's possible that a clear amount of warmth is generated.

 

Magnetic Effect of Electric Current

Another prominent effect that is noticeable when an electric current flows through the conductor is the build-up of the magnetic field. We can observe this when we place a compass close to a wire carrying a reasonably large direct current, the compass needle deflects. The magnetic flux generated by a current is put to good use during a number of areas. By winding a wire into a coil, the effects are often increased, and an electromagnet is often made.

 

Chemical Effect of Electric Current

When an electric current passes through a solution, the solution ionizes and breaks down into ions. This is because a reaction takes place when an electrical current passes through the answer. Depending on the nature of the solution and the electrodes used, the following effects can be observed in the solution:

  • Change in the colour of the solution

  • Metallic deposits on the electrodes

  • A release of gas or production of bubbles in the solution

Electroplating and electrolysis are the applications of the chemical effect of electrical current.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1. What is Electric Current? 

Ans: Electric Current is the rate of flow of electrons during a conductor. The SI Unit of electrical current is the Ampere. Electrons are minute particles that exist within the molecular structure of a substance. Sometimes, these electrons are tightly held and the other times they are loosely held. When electrons are loosely held by the nucleus, they are able to travel freely within the limits of the body. Electrons are negatively charged particles hence when they move a number of charges moves and we call this movement of electrons as electric current. It should be noted that the amount of electrons that are ready to move governs the power of a specific substance to conduct electricity. Some materials allow current to maneuver better than others.

Q2. Mention Any 2 Properties of Electric Current

Ans: The two properties of Electric Current are - 

  • Electric current is a crucial quantity in electronic circuits. We have adapted electricity in our lives such a lot that it becomes impossible to imagine life without it. Therefore, it is important to know the properties of the electric current.

  • We know that current is the results of the flow of electrons. The work wiped out moving the electron stream is understood as electricity. The electricity is often converted into other sorts of energy like heat, light energy, etc.