Energy Transfers and Energy Transfer Diagrams

Energy Transfers

Energy can be transferred between energy stores. Four ways that energy can be transferred are:

  • Mechanically – Through the action of a force moving an object across a distance
  • Electrically – By an electrical current
  • By radiation – Electromagnetic waves
  • By heating – Through conduction, convection and radiation

Energy transfer by heating

During the heating process, energy can be transferred from a hot object to a cooler one by conductionconvection and radiation.

Conduction: Energy is transferred by direct contact.

Convection: Particles with more thermal energy take the place of particles with less thermal energy

Radiation: Energy is transferred by electromagnetic radiation

An example of this occurs when boiling water. The chemical energy store of the fuel decreases and the thermal energy store of the beaker and boiling water increases. In this case, chemical energy is transferred to thermal energy.

Energy Transfer Diagram

Energy transfers and the locations of energy stores can be shown in an energy transfer diagram.

Let’s look at the energy transfer diagram of an electric lamp.

This diagram shows the transfer of energy with an electric lamp. The battery stores chemical energy, which is transferred to the lamp via wires and then emitted to the surroundings as light.

The useful energy is the energy transferred as light (used to illuminate a place). However, there are also some non-useful energy transfers, such as the energy that is transferred to the surroundings as thermal energy.

The total energy before and after a change or transfer remains the same; this is known as the conservation of energy.

So: Total energy before = Total energy after