9 Mysterious Mercury Arc Rectifiers

Illustration for article titled 9 Mysterious Mercury Arc Rectifiers

They've been a mainstay of Sci-Fi props for years but you'll be hard pressed to find someone on the street that can tell you what they actually do. They're Mercury Arc Rectifiers and our friends at Oobject have collected nine of the best.

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If you're looking for more accouterments for your evil laboratory, might I suggest these Frankestein's Lab Items, this homage to the light bulb, or therse crazy Tesla Coils?

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A three phase, six anode mercury arc rectifier, formerly used at a 600V DC traction substation of the Athens-Piraeus railway

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Household Mercury Arc Rectifier

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Mercury rectifier on display in Beromunster, Switzerland

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Mercury Vapour Arc Rectifier from University of Aberdeen Collection

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Rectifier at the Cengelhan Koc Museum in Turkey

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Rectifier from Type 80 Early Warning Radar System

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The two mercury arc rectifiers at Kempton Steam Museum, London

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Twin Mercury Arc Rectifiers from the Doncaster Odeon movie theatre

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Working Mercury Arc Rectifier

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DISCUSSION

Don't tell me how interesting they are and how no one will actually tell me what they do and show me a bunch of them without telling me what they actually do. Sheeesh. You're worse than a grade school teacher whose trying to get the students to go find out things for themselves. FYI:

"Mercury arc rectifiers (also known as Cooper-Hewitt or Hewittic rectifiers) were extensively used to provide DC in high power applications, powers ranging from kilowatts up to a few megawatts, at voltages ranging from 110V to 30KV. Their operation is based on the discovery that an arc between a pool of mercury and a metal anode only allows current to pass in one direction. Multiple anodes are typically used, fed from a multiple-phase transformer, the arc jumping from the cathode pool to each anode in sequence. There may be three, six or even twelve transformer phases, each feeding one anode. Six and twelve-phase systems used star-connected three-phase transformers with interphase transformers between the star common connections." taken from [www.electricstuff.co.uk]