The Dynamo 1
How Electricity is obtained on a Large Scale
We have learned that cells furnish current as a result of chemical action, and that the substance usually consumed within the cell is zinc. Just as coal within the furnace furnishes heat, so zinc within the cell furnishes electricity. But zinc is a much more expensive fuel than coal or oil or gas, and to run a large motor by electricity produced in this way would be very much more expensive than to run the motor by water or steam. For weak and infrequent currents such as are used in the electric bell, only small quantities of zinc are needed, and the expense is small. But for the production of such powerful currents as are needed to drive trolley cars, elevators, and huge machinery, enormous quantities of zinc would be necessary and the cost would be prohibitive. It is safe to say that electricity would never have been used on a large scale if some less expensive and more convenient source than zinc had not been found.