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The Electric Motor. A very brief history!

Anna Ellam

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It’s probably fair to say that the electric motor has been one of history’s most impactful inventions.  Motors have a direct bearing on almost every part of our lives; our fridges, computers, cars, all manner of day-to-day items use them.  And that’s not even touching the impact they’ve had on industry. 

They are used - at some point - in the manufacturing process of almost every product made in modern factories.  Here at Central we do a lot of work with motors and are always like to find out about new technologies, efficiencies and innovations, so we were interested to read about a new motor design being developed by UK based Advanced Electric Machines.

Although this technology is specifically for the automotive industry it is still great to read about something being hailed as ‘the most sustainable motor in the world’; something that could have a significant impact for the future.

But where did it all begin?

We thought we would take a little look back in time and see if we could put together our own ‘brief history of motors’.  And when we started to look we were surprised to find the first notable date was 1740!  It’s believed that the first electric motors - very simple electrostatic devises - were developed by a Scottish Monk called Andrew Gorden.   A man way ahead of his time.

Just under 100 years later along came Andre-Marie Ampere who in 1820 put forward the ‘theoretical principal behind the production of mechanical force by the interactions of an electric current and a magnetic field’; otherwise known as Ampre’s Force Law which was a major player in the future development of the electric motor.

The foundations of electric motor technology

There seems to be a little bit of disagreement as to who invented the first actual motor.  But it all dates back to the 1800s when in 1821 Michael Farady succeeded in converting electrical energy into mechanical energy and who’s inventions of electromagnetic devices really formed the foundations of electric motor technology.

In 1827 a Hungarian inventor arrived on the scene.  It is believed Anyos Jedlik was the first person to demonstrate a device which contained the three main components of a direct current motor – the stator, rotor and commutator.  After numerous other attempts including a motor that was powerful enough to drive a boat across a river there came another major breakthrough when British scientist William Sturgeon made a DC Motor that was capable of turning machinery.  It was now 1832. 

It was Sturgeon’s work that really kicked things off and led to the world’s first patented direct current electric motor for commercial use which was patented in 1937 by the American Thomas Davenport, and was capable of running at 600 revolutions per minute.

Keeping the wheels of business turning

Over the years technology has changed and evolved.  DC motors have been joined by AC motors, invertors and generators, but one thing that remains the same is their continued importance to industry.  And how important it is they keep on running and keep the wheels of business turning. 

At Central Group we are experts in the maintenance, repair and refurbishment of motors across a wide range of industries including chemical, metals, paper, food & beverage, oil & gas and renewables.  And our expertise extends beyond service and repair.  We also offer drive solutions to harness and control the electrical energy sent to motors and can advise on the most efficient solution including variable speed drives which will help save energy and ultimately help save on running costs. 

If you want to find out more about the services we offer and how we can help save you money then drop us a line and let's have a chat.