Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti

Sebastian Pietro Innocenzo Adhemar Ziani de Ferranti was an electrical engineer and inventor.

Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti was born in Liverpool, England. His Italian father, Cesar, was a photographer and his mother Juliana (née Scott) was a concert pianist.

He married Gertrude Ruth Ince on April 24, 1888 and they had seven children together. Ferranti died on January 13, 1930 in Zurich, Switzerland. He was buried in the same grave as his parents and his daughter Yolanda at Hampstead cemetery, London.

Ferranti showed a remarkable talent for electrical engineering from his childhood. His first invention, at the age of 13, was an arc light for street lighting. Reportedly, around the age of 16, he built an electrical generator (that had a "Zig-zag armature") with the help of William Thomson (the future Lord Kelvin) and later patented the device (called the "Ferranti Dynamo"). He worked for Siemens Brothers at Charlton, London and in 1882 he set up shop in London designing various electrical devices as the firm Ferranti, Thompson and Ince.

In the late 1880s there was a debate within the industry about the transmission of electrical power, known as the War of the Currents. Thomas Edison supported a direct current (DC) based system, largely due to his holding many key patents and having set up some power plants supplying DC power. His rival, Nikola Tesla, supported an alternating current (AC) system that was being backed by Westinghouse.

Ferranti bet on AC early on, and was one of the few experts in this system in the UK. In 1887 the London Electric Supply Corporation (LESCo) hired Ferranti for the design of their power station at Deptford. He designed the building, the generating plant and the distribution system. On its completion in 1891 it was the first truly modern power station, supplying high-voltage AC power that was then "stepped down" for consumer use on each street. This basic system remains in use today around the world. One of the remaining supports of the generating hall of Deptford Power Station forms the frame of the sign at the Manchester Museum of science and Industry in Manchester UK, home of the Ferranti Archives.

Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti was President of the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1910 and 1911, and elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1927.

Top 10 Rules for Saving Energy

1. DO shut off the lights
when you’re done using them, and turn off the TV, computer, video games and other electrical stuff when you leave the room.

2. DO lower the thermostat during the winter. To keep warm without wasting energy, put on a sweatshirt or snuggle under a blanket.

3. DON'T leave the refrigerator door open. Every time you open the door, up to one-third of the cold air can escape.

4. DO replace a burnt-out light bulb with a new compact fluorescent bulb. Fluorescent bulbs use 75 percent less energy, and they last 10 times longer.

5. DO remind grown-ups to use cold water in the washing machine. Hot water won’t get the clothes any cleaner, and it wastes a lot of energy.

6. DO turn off dripping faucets. One drop per second can add up to 165 gallons of hot water a month - that's more than one person uses in two weeks!

7. DON’T take a long bath – take a short shower instead. It might take 25 gallons of hot water to fill the bathtub, compared to only seven gallons for a quick shower.

8. DO close the curtains during hot summer days to block the sun. During the winter, keep the curtains open.

9. Help a grown-up put plastic sheeting on windows. Blocking cold drafts is called “weatherizing” and it can save a lot of energy.

10. DO help your mom or dad plant a tree to help shade your house on hot summer days.


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