What is the purpose of the iron core in a transformer?
The iron core of a transformer stores energy as power is being transferred from the primary circuit to the secondary circuit. This energy is stored as the magnetization of that iron. The transformer needs to store that energy for roughly one half cycle of the alternating current or about 1/120th of a second. The more iron there is in the transformer, the more energy it can store and the more power the transformer can transfer from the primary circuit to the secondary circuit. Without any iron, the energy must be stored directly in empty space, again as a magnetization. But space isn’t as good at storing magnetic energy as iron is so the iron increases the power-handling capacity of a transformer. Without the iron, the transformer must operate at much higher frequencies of alternating current in order to transfer reasonable amounts of power.