Name: allison williams
Date: Around 1993
How does an electrical current work?
There are many volumes of books on the subject. Electrical current(s) are
not only transmitted by wire, but also other mediums, such as air in a
device called a waveguide when dealing with UHF (Ultra High Frequency
electricity) or Microwave (even higher frequency).
The mechanics of electron (or hole) flow is and will continue to be a
subject of considerable debate. The effect of that current is what we all
know about. As I said, there are volumes and volumes of books on the
In short, electrical current can flow only when there is a potential
(commonly referred to as voltage) between two sources, and a path to
equalize the potential. This potential can be created by many sources,
including chemical energy, heat energy, and just about any force that can
create substances that are charged more or less positively or negatively. A
battery, for example, is made of two or more chemicals or elements that are
reacting to cause an electrical potential between two elements. By connect-
ing the two elements with a conductor of some type, or a "load," electrical
current will flow in an attempt to equalize the differing electrical
charges. When the chemical reaction is complete, and the charges have been
neutralized, no more electrical current can flow.
Sometimes the simplest questions can be the most difficult to answer.
Keep asking them.
Click here to return to the Engineering Archives
Update: June 2012