Definition: Direct current
A type of electricity transmission and distribution by which electricity flows in one direction through the conductor, usually relatively low voltage and high current (such as from a battery). To be used for typical 120 volt or 220 volt household appliances, DC must be converted to alternating current (AC).
- Direct current (DC) is the unidirectional flow of electric charge. Direct current is produced by sources such as batteries, power supplies, thermocouples, solar cells, or dynamos. Direct current may flow in a conductor such as a wire, but can also flow through semiconductors, insulators, or even through a vacuum as in electron or ion beams. The electric current flows in a constant direction, distinguishing it from alternating current (AC). A term formerly used for this type of current was galvanic current.The abbreviations AC and DC are often used to mean simply alternating and direct, as when they modify current or voltage.Direct current may be obtained from an alternating current supply by use of a rectifier, which contains electronic elements (usually) or electromechanical elements (historically) that allow current to flow only in one direction. Direct current may be converted into alternating current with an inverter or a motor-generator set.Direct current is used to charge batteries and as power supply for electronic systems. Very large quantities of direct-current power are used in production of aluminum and other electrochemical processes. It is also used for some railways, especially in urban areas. High-voltage direct current is used to transmit large amounts of power from remote generation sites or to interconnect alternating current power grids.
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