Energy is present in many forms all around us such as electrical, kinetic, thermal, potential, and various other forms. There is also energy in the process of transfer from one body to another i.e. heat and work. Once energy is transferred it’s always designated according to its nature. Therefore, Thermal energy may result from the transfer of heat and work done may take the shape of mechanical energy.

Today, we’re discussing energy conversion and all the important aspects related to it.

So, read on!

Energy is the fundamental need of our everyday life. So much so, that the quality of life and even its sustenance, is dependent on the availability of energy. Hence, it is imperative for us to have a conceptual understanding of the various sources of energy, the conversion of energy from one form to another and the implications of these conversions. You must that heard that Energy conversion from one form to another is a well-known phenomenon. The Law of conservation of energy even tells us that the only thing that takes place with energy is the transformation from one form to another. This means that we can convert electrical energy into heat energy and light energy, solar energy can be converted to chemical energy, potential energy can be converted into kinetic energy, Gravitational potential energy can be converted into kinetic energy etc. Energy Conversion is defined as the process where there is a change in energy from one form to another such as the conversion of nuclear energy into heat energy, the conversion of light energy into heat, thermal energy into work etc.

Energy Conversion, also termed energy transformation, is the process of changing energy from one of its forms into another. In physics, energy is a quantity that provides the capacity to perform work — think of lifting or warming an object. In addition to being convertible, and also according to the law of conservation of energy, energy is transferable to a different location or object, but it cannot be created or destroyed. Energy in many of its forms may be used in natural processes, or to provide some service to society such as heating, refrigeration, lighting or performing mechanical work to operate machines. For example, in order to heat your home, your furnace can burn fuel, whose chemical potential energy is thus converted into thermal energy, which is then transferred to your home’s air in order to raise its temperature.

In another example, an internal combustion engine burns gasoline to create pressure that pushes the pistons, thus performing work in order to accelerate your vehicle, ultimately converting the fuel’s chemical energy to your vehicle’s additional kinetic energy corresponding to its increase in speed.

Entropy and limitations in conversion of thermal energy to other types

Conversions to thermal energy (thus raising the temperature) from other forms of energy, may occur with essentially 100% efficiency (many types of friction do this). Conversion among non-thermal forms of energy may occur with fairly high efficiency, though there is always some energy dissipated thermally due to friction and similar processes. Sometimes the efficiency is close to 100%, such as when potential energy is converted to kinetic energy as an object falls in vacuum, or when an object orbits nearer or farther from another object, in space.

Though, conversion of thermal energy to other forms, thus reducing the temperature of a system, has strict limitations, often keeping its efficiency much less than 100% (even when energy is not allowed to escape from the system). This is because thermal energy has already been partly spread out among many available states of a collection of microscopic particles constituting the system, which can have enormous numbers of possible combinations of momentum and position (these combinations are said to form a phase space). In such circumstances, a measure called entropy, or evening-out of energy distributions, dictates that future states of an isolated system must be of at least equal evenness in energy distribution. In other words, there is no way to concentrate energy without spreading out energy somewhere else.

Thermal energy in equilibrium at a given temperature already represents the maximal evening-out of energy between all possible states. Such energy is sometimes considered “degraded energy,” because it is not entirely convertible a “useful” form, i.e. one that can do more than just affect temperature. The second law of thermodynamics is a way of stating that, for this reason, thermal energy in a system may be converted to other kinds of energy with efficiencies approaching 100%, only if the entropy (even-ness or disorder) of the universe is increased by other means, to compensate for the decrease in entropy associated with the disappearance of the thermal energy and its entropy content. Otherwise, only a part of thermal energy may be converted to other kinds of energy (and thus, useful work), since the remainder of the heat must be reserved to be transferred to a thermal reservoir at a lower temperature, in such a way that the increase in Entropy for this process more than compensates for the entropy decrease associated with transformation of the rest of the heat into other types of energy.

Types of Energy Conversions

There are various types of energy all around us and these energy sources can be converted from one form to another as explained below:

  • Light energy can be converted to heat energy.
  • Electrical energy can be converted to mechanical energy, light energy, heat energy, etc.
  • Chemical energy can be converted to electrical energy.
  • Thermal energy can be converted to heat energy.
  • Mechanical energy can be converted to electrical energy, potential energy, etc.
  • Nuclear energy can be converted to light energy and heat energy.
  • The Solar energy can be converted to heat energy, chemical energy, and electrical energy.
  • The Gravitational potential energy can be converted to kinetic energy.

Some examples of energy conversion are:

  • A vehicle moving is an example of chemical energy being converted into kinetic energy.
  • Electricity being produced with water is an example of potential energy being converted into kinetic energy.
  • A ball from a height towards the ground is an example of potential energy being converted into kinetic energy.
  • When you boil water using an electric kettle, it’s an example of electric energy being converted into heat energy.

These were some of the modern examples of energy conversion.

Now, what is Acamech doing?

Acamech provides feasible and high-performing scientific simulations for mechanical systems. Acamech’s fields expertise are in Energy Conversion, Multi-Phase Flow, Nano Technology, Micro and Nano Electro Mechanical Systems, as well as Fluid-Structure interaction.

Acamech’s provides education and training, as well as consultations in these scientific fields. It also teams up with other scientific centers and individual scientists, on specific applied studies.

Would you like to know more?