Zipernowsky, Károly

(Vienna, April 4th, 1853 – Budapest, November 29th, 1942)

He graduated from the Piarist Grammar School and obtained his diploma in mechanical engineering at the József Technical University. Web link

In 1878 András Mechwart, director of the Ganz Works Web link entrusted him with organising the establishment of the department of power-current electricity.

He began his experiments with alternating current generators in spite of the fact that the recognised specialists of the time like Schuckert, Crompton, Siemens and Edison believed that alternating current had no future, as they did not see any practical possibilities for the suitable distribution of energy by high-voltage alternating current. Zipernowsky soon realised the advantages of alternating current and beside direct-current machines he also developed his alternating-current machines. Soon after his first dynamo he constructed his first alternating current generator. He took out his first patent in 1880.

In 1883, in co-operation with Miksa Déri they patented their invention relating to the self-excited alternating current generator and its special commutator.

In the 1880's many inventions came out from the Ganz, a significant part of which was constituted by Zipernowsky's patents submitted individually or in co-operation with his colleagues.

The Mechwart–Déri–Zipernowsky steam-engine-powered generator unites had great success at the exposition of electricity of Vienna in 1883.

In 1885 Zipernowsky, Déri and Bláthy took out a patent relating to alternating current closed iron core transformers and the distribution system based on the parallel connection of them. This system is still the basis of long-distance power transfer and high-voltage electric energy distribution.

In the same year Zipernowsky and Déri worked out and took out a patent on a new power distributor based on the application of parallel connected, alternating current transformers of optional ratio.

First the installation of a thermal power-station in Rome was ordered from the Ganz Factory. Later on this power-station was in parallel operation with the Tivoli hydro-electric power station situated 26 kilometres from Rome also built by the Ganz Factory, and its 1545 kW energy was carried to Rome by a high-voltage power transmission line. For the first time in the history of electrical technology generators situated at a great distance from each another, directly connected with water turbines and steam engines were running continuously, in normal parallel connection.

Towards the end of the 19th century the increasing importance of electrical engineering made it necessary to establish a Department of Electrical Engineering at the József Technical University in the interest of teaching power-current electrical engineering as an individual subject. In 1893 Károly Zipernowsky, was invited to be the leader of the new department.

Memberships: Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Web link (1893); president of the Hungarian Electrotechnical Association (1905).