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The charging device transforms mechanical energy into electrical energy to provide the current required to recharge the battery and power the electrical accessories of the vehicle while the engine is running. The alternator is also called the AC generator. Mechanical energy from the engine crankshaft is transferred from the crankshaft pulley to the alternator pulley, which is connected to the engine with brackets. A standard alternator has a two-piece aluminum cast housing with a stator and a shaft-mounted rotor. The pulley and the cooling fan are located on the shaft at the front of the drive end casing, which also has a bearing to stabilize the shaft. In addition to the other support bearing of the shaft, the rear housing also includes the brushes, rectifier assembly, and a voltage regulator. The rectifier assembly comprises diodes and heat sinks.
The belt around the alternator spins the rotor and the windings of the stator, producing a magnetic field that induces a voltage in the windings. Alternators produce AC current, which is converted by the diodes and converted into a DC current which recharges the battery and powers the electrical system. The voltage output of the alternator is regulated to prevent undercharging or overcharging. This is achieved by adjusting the current field. Older vehicles used an internal or external voltage regulator whereas modern vehicles use a Powertrain Control Module (PCM). During deceleration, the rotating alternator produces drag, straining the serpentine belt and tensioner. Some manufacturers use alternator decoupler pulleys that allow the alternator to freewheel during deceleration, reduce strain, and increase the lifetime of the belt and tensioner. For this, One-Way Clutch (OWC) and Overrunning Alternator Decoupler (OAD) pulleys are used.