Expo Blog

The Expo Blog is a space for posts on the history, themes, legacies and experience of Expos. It includes articles from the BIE and external contributors.

 

The Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) is the intergovernmental organization in charge of overseeing and regulating World Expos, International Specialized Expos, Horticultural Exhibitions and the Design Triennale di Milano.

Transmitting power: from the Million-Volt Transformer to Supergrids

Transmitting power: from the Million-Volt Transformer to Supergrids

The development of renewable energy alongside urbanisation and population growth has made the transmission of electricity a pressing issue for policymakers. Urban centres are often located hundreds or thousands of kilometres from the source of energy, and unlike fossil fuels, renewables cannot be transported. In response to this challenge, “supergrids” are being developed using specially built cables using direct current as very high voltages (HVDC), allowing large volumes of electricity to be efficiently transported over long distances.

The development of supergrids in the 21st century is the continuation of efforts since the dawn of the electric age to increase capacity and scale up access to electricity. As early as Expo 1904 in St. Louis, Chester H. Thordarson showcased a half-million volt transformer, winning a gold medal for the invention which he built in only 28 days. But it was not until Expo 1915 in San Francisco that Thordarson set the bar for electrical transmission when the public were introduced to the million-volt transformer, part of the High Tension Research Pavilion within the Machinery Palace.

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Powering Devices: from the Hubbell Plug and beyond

Powering Devices: from the Hubbell Plug and beyond

The transfer of electricity has long been a conundrum for inventors and electrical engineers, and the question of power supply to different devices continues to be a focal point of research and development. Wireless systems and radio frequency signals increasingly look to be the future of powering devices, with many of the latest innovations to be showcased at Expo 2017 Astana.

Before the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, there was no standard method of the various electrical appliances and devices that had been invented. Thomas Edison had already wired a number of homes in New York City, but one vital element was missing that changed the way we consume power forever: the plug and socket.

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The Apotheosis of Electricity at Expo 1900 Paris

The Apotheosis of Electricity at Expo 1900 Paris

Expo 1900 Paris featured awe-inspiring pavilions that showcased the ingenuity of participating countries, but one exhibit that stood out was the stunning Palais de l’Electricité (the Palace of Electricity), which was as remarkable for its beauty as its essential function on the Expo site.

Designed by Eugène Hénard, this architectural marvel was a 130-metre-long and 70-metre-high façade, covered with thin stained glass and an intricately designed ceramic decoration; crowned at the top by a chariot drawn by hippogriffs spewing showers of multi-coloured flames.

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Illuminating the White City: Tesla vs. Edison at Expo 1893 Chicago

Illuminating the White City: Tesla vs. Edison at Expo 1893 Chicago

Expo 1893 in Chicago, the World’s Columbian Exhibition, surpassed all previous World Expos in size and unapologetically embraced progress and the modern era. The widespread use of electricity on the site of the Expo was a symbol of the positive side of modernity.

For the organisers, this major endeavour was essential, and it led to one of the most significant corporate and technical rivalries of the time so much so that it shaped the future of electricity in the United States.

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Montreal to celebrate 50 years of Expo 1967 at its Nuit Blanche

Montreal to celebrate 50 years of Expo 1967 at its Nuit Blanche

Among Montreal’s many celebrations this year, the 50th anniversary of Expo 1967 is undoubtedly the one that brings on the strongest feelings of nostalgia among its residents. In the same year as it marks the 375th anniversary of the city’s founding and 150 years of Canadian Confederation, the city of Montreal is organising a range of activities to remember the glorious six months of 1967 when the city welcomed the world under the theme “Man and his World.”

On 4 March, Montrealers will be able to rediscover the excitement and wonder of Expo 1967 when the city holds its annual Nuit Blanche late night cultural event.

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Opinions given by external contributors to the Expo Blog do not necessarily reflect the views and position of the BIE