to Frankfurt 1891
The beginning of modern electric power in the world
The three phase generator installed at Lauffen
am Neckar, Germany
All historic photos provided by the Historisches
Museum, Frankfurt, Germany
Victory for AC Power:
The 1891 International Electro-Technical Exhibition
exposition and it's power system was one of the most important
events in the early history of electricity. The exposition took
place in Germany in 1891 and included a hydro power station at Lauffen,
with transmission lines that extended 109 miles north to
Frankfurt am Main. This was the first long distance transmission
of electric power for utility. This event also demonstrated the
first efficient long distance transmission system using three
phase power. The demonstration of the the effectiveness of 3
phase power marked the end of the War of Currents. This event proved
the superiority of Dobrovolsy's three phase system over other systems.
Three phase power would prove over the next 20 years to be a better
method for transmitting power than Edison's DC and Tesla's two phase
systems. Read more below about this monumental event.
this Power Generation Site:
The first major demonstration of 3 phase AC power in the
Frequency: 40 Hz Three-Phase, Alternating Current Power Transmission Length: 109 miles Power system built by: Oerlikon Company, Switzerland Notable Engineers:Mikhail
von Miller Maximum Power Output: 200 kVA or 180 kW provided
55 V AC, bei 150 min
20 kV was transmitted to Frankfurt
1889 Leopold Sonnemann of the Frankfurt Zeitung newspaper was
inspired by the Exposition Universelle in Paris and decided
to promote an electrical exposition in the city of Frankfurt.
He approached the local Electro-Technical Society and gained
support. Along with the commercial backing of several companies
that sold electrical apparatus the planning began. Oskar
von Miller, director of the German Edison Company (later
on called the Allgemeine Electricitätsgesellschaft")
directed the planning efforts and hoped the event would show
the world the latest in electrical technology. Electrical expositions
were not new for Mr. Miller, he had succeeded in transmitting
HVDC (high voltage direct current) power over 60 kilometers
from Miesbach to Munich for an exposition in 1882.
was decided that a power station would be built at Lauffen am Neckar.
This was a small village located on the banks of the Neckar River north
of Stuttgart. Mikhail
Dolivo-Dobrovolsky was the genius that designed the revolutionary
3 phase generator and transmission system. It should be noted that alternating
current had been around for a while. Lucian Gaulard(France), John Dixon
Gibbs(England), and William Stanley(USA)
had worked out early AC systems that used
transformers(1885) in order to create the first AC distribution
systems. Elihu Thomson, Rudolph Eickmeyer and Nikola Tesla had developed
the early AC motors which were necessary for industrial needs. With
AC power systems now commercially salable the last major obstacle remained
the issue of power transmission.
Village of Lauffen in 1891 with the Neckar River in the foreground
power was the most obvious choice for electric power since it
had been used at mills for thousands of years. Good hydropower
locations are limited, so it was necessary to transmit power
over great distances in order to illuminate and power the great
cities of the time.
power began in single and double phase methods. Dobrovolsky
had constructed the first three phase AC generator in 1888 in
Germany. He constructed an improved three phase generator which
was installed in Lauffen for the exposition.
of three phase power Michael Osipovich Dolivo-Dobrovolsky
dam and powerhouse at Lauffen
generator, switch gear, and transformer
waterfall powered by an electric pump.
Exposition in Frankfurt
Electro-Technical Exposition ran from May to October in
1891. Visitors paid 15 marks to enter a fair grounds that
contained various amusing uses of electrical power. One
thousand light bulbs lit the entrance. For many it was just
an entertaining spectacle, but for the engineering mind
it was a highly exciting chance to check out the latest
in electric motors and power systems. For businessmen the
exposition was a chance to explore the possibilities of
using new electric machines to replace machines run on coal,
oil, and gas. Companies like Helios and Oerlikon various
products in both static and interactive displays. Company
executives from electrical firms around the world came to
examine the new technology. Many attempted to recreate what
they had seen and improve upon it. In the new business of
electricity information spread fast. Many
important figures of AC power were invited to the event,
at the Congress Dinner Galileo
Ferrariswas hailed as the father of three-phase
phase power had only been around in experimental form for
3 years, yet many companies immediately began work on new
systems in the race for patents. Siemens and General Electric
began work on three phase generators the same year as the
exposition. General Electric was able to build it's first
three phase hydroelectric power
station at Redlands, California in 1891. In North America
General Electric lead the 3 phase effort while Westinghouse
with Tesla kept working on the 2 phase system. Siemens had
been making AC alternators since before 1881 and was able
to rapidly become competition for General Electric in the
three phase area.
Backside of the generator.
See the generator in person at the Deutsches
Museum in Munich
and powerhouse. The powerhouse is gone today, this may have
been caused by flooding or two world wars. If anyone can clarify
what caused the destruction of the original powerhouse please
of the canal today where the powerhouse once stood.
am Neckar: A plaque commemorating the powerhouse site
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