dinamo de Gramme

¿Cómo funciona una dinamo?

Los caminos de la invención suelen ser inesperados. En lo que se refiere a Zénobe Gramme, obrero mecánico belga. Su afán de limpieza le llevó a construir la primera dinamo en 1870. «¿No podría hacerse electricidad de una forma más limpia?», pregunto un día a sus compañeros de trabajo, al contemplar tu disgusto los recipientes, cubiertos de cardenillo, de las pilas utilizadas en el taller para la galvanoplastia de piezas de orfebrería. Puso entonces manos a la obra y, rebuscando en los materiales de desecho, logró amañar su famosa máquina generadora de electricidad.

Esta máquina estaba constituida por un anillo de hierro dulce, de gran diámetro, sobre que se había bobina de hilo de cobre. Este anillo montado sobre un eje (parte móvil, a la que se daría el nombre de rotor) estaba impulsado por una máquina de vapor, en un rápido movimiento de rotación, entre los polos de un poderoso electroimán (parte fija,el estator). Las variaciones de campo magnético que la rotación provocaba en cada espira del bobinado, inducían una corriente continua.

Desde la época de Gramme, la dinamo ha sido objeto de numerosos perfeccionamientos, y hoy la encontramos en todas partes. Posee una propiedad especialmente útil: es reversible. En efecto, si hacemos girar el rotor acoplándolo a un motor de explosión, o bien a una turbina movida por un salto de agua, la dinamo transforma energía eléctrica la energía mecánica que le proporcionamos, y produce así una corriente que puede ser transportada a todas partes por medio de hilos conductores. A la inversa si le proporcionamos energía eléctrica, esta se transforma energía mecánica: el rotor gira, la dinamo se convierte en un motor eléctrico.

esquema de dinamo

Un molinete nos ofrece un ejemplo de reversibilidad: puesto marcha, produce una corriente de aire; cuando no funciona, una corriente de aire lo hace girar. La reversibilidad de la dinamo fue descubierta fortuitamente, en 1823 en Viena, por un ingeniero de Artes y Oficios, Hippolyte Fontaine, que participaba en una exposición. Un incidente de montaje le había llevado a conectar una dinamo a otra máquina que funcionaba a 250 metros de la primera. La dinamo al recibir corriente se puso a girar… Así, pues, está generadora podía servir también de motriz, hecho que le hizo pensar a Fontaine que, en lo sucesivo, sería posible «transportar fuerza a gran distancia».

En calidad de motores, las dinamos lo mismo hacen funcionar las locomotoras o las máquinas herramientas, que nuestros aparatos domésticos. En tanto que generadores de corriente, hacen funcionar innumerables dinamos motrices, hacen brillar millones de lámparas en todo el mundo, etcétera

Cuando una dinamo está proyectada para que se produzca corriente alterna, que se presta más económicamente transporte energía distancia, recibe el nombre del alternador. Una corriente alterna cambia constantemente de sentido, siguiendo determinada frecuencia (número de alternancias por segundo).

Las corrientes alternas de frecuencia demasiado baja no sirve para alumbrado, ya que éste parpadea. Una frecuencia de 50 ciclos por segundo (la que se ha adaptado en Europa) suprime el parpadeo, puesto que los tiempos de iluminación están lo suficientemente próximos unos a otros para que las sensaciones luminosas sean percibidas en forma continua por el ojo, los gracias a la persistencia de las imágenes en la retina

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