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NUE 052 - Effects of Current

Electric current causes a number of effects. The four major effects are:

  • heating
  • magnetism
  • chemical
  • physiological
  • Heating

    When current flows in a conductor, heat is produced. This heat is produced because of the resistance of the conductor. The higher the resistance the greater the heat produced.
    This heating effect is used in:
  • electric stoves
  • electric radiators
  • electric kettles
  • electric cooking appliances
  • Magnetism

    Another useful effect of electric current is the magnet effect. This effect is probably the most useful of the common effects. There are many uses such as electric motors and electrical appliances.
    Some other magnet effects are:
  • TV
  • Radio
  • Transformers
  • Relays
  • Computer hard drives
  • Chemical

    Current will flow in an electrolyte solution such as salt water. If two copper electrodes are placed in an electrolyte, current will flow through the liquid. This effect can be used in electroplating to coat a metal object such as a car bumper bar.
    Other examples of chemical effect are:
  • battery charging
  • electrolysis
  • Physiological

    The physiological effect is the result of current passing through a living being such as a human. The obvious effect from this is an electric shock. An electric shock can cause severe burns or even death.
    Some uses for the physiological effect are:
  • cattle prods
  • electric fences
  • defibrillators
  • electric chair
  • Effects of an electric current passing through a body
    up to 2mA
    hardly noticeable
    2mA to 8mA
    tingling sensation becoming painful
    8mA to 12mA
    muscle spasms and pain
    12mA to 20mA
    loss of control of muscles, gripping of the conductor
    20mA to 50mA
    breathing can stop
    50mA to 100mA
    heart can stop
    100mA to 200mA
    heart will stop
    above 200mA
    severe burning
    Practice Tests are available on the practice test page  
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