Energy conversion also termed as energy transformation, is the process of changing one form of energy into another. Energy conversion occurs everywhere and every minute of the day. There are numerous forms of energy like thermal energy, electrical energy, nuclear energy, electromagnetic energy, mechanical energy, chemical energy, sound energy etc. According to the law of conservation of energy, energy is always conserved in the universe and can only be converted from one form to another. Therefore numerous energy conversions are taking place around us all the time.
Law of Energy Conversion
Thermodynamics is the study of how energy gets converted from one form to another. Details on how the laws of thermodynamics apply to the conversion of energy are given below.
The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor be destroyed, it can only be transformed into one form to another, which is also called as the law of conservation of energy or law of energy conversion. There are various types and forms of energy. Some examples of everyday energy conversions are provided below.
|Scenario||Energy conversions involved|
|Rubbing both hands together for warmth||Kinetic Energy to Thermal Energy|
|A falling object speeding up||Gravitational Potential Energy to Kinetic Energy|
|Using battery powered torchlight||In the battery: Chemical to Electrical Energy
In the bulb: Electrical to Radiant Energy
|In Geothermal Power Plant||Heat Energy to Electrical Energy|
|In Thermocouple||Heat Energy to Electrical Energy|
|In Hydroelectric Dams||Gravitational potential energy to Electric Energy|
|In Electric Generator||Kinetic energy / Mechanical work to Electric Energy|
|In Windmills||Wind Energy to Mechanical Energy or Electric Energy|
|In OTEC||Heat Energy to Electric Energy or Mechanical Energy|
|Using Microphone||Sound Energy to Electric Energy|
|Photosynthesis in Plants||Solar Energy to Chemical Energy|
|In Piezoelectrics||Strain to Electric Energy|
|In Electric lamp||Electric Energy to Heat and Light Energy|
|Burning of wood||Chemical energy to Heat and Light Energy|
|In Fuel cells||Chemical Energy to Electric Energy|
|In steam engine||Heat energy to Mechanical Energy|
|In Electric heater||Electric Energy to Heat|
Examples of Energy Conversion
Some examples of sets of energy conversion in machines are explained below.
Coal-fired Power Plant
The sets of energy transformation inside a coal-fired power plant are given in the points below.
- During the process of combustion, the chemical energy in the coal gets converted into thermal energy.
- Then through the heat exchanger, the thermal energy of the exhaust gases gets converted into thermal energy of steam.
- After that in the turbine, the thermal energy of steam gets converted into mechanical energy.
- Finally, with the help of a generator, the mechanical energy gets converted into electrical energy.
The sets of energy transformation in a conventional automobile are given in the points below.
- Due to combustion, the chemical energy in the fuel gets converted into kinetic energy of the expanded gas.
- Then the kinetic energy of the expanding gas gets converted into linear piston movement.
- Then the linear piston movement gets converted into rotary crankshaft movement.
- The rotary movement of drive wheels gets converted into linear motion of the automobile.
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