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What Is Energy Transformation?

When powered, light bulbs transform the chemical energy inside the bulbs into light.
Solar panels transform the energy from the light of the Sun into electricity.
A roller coaster provides a good example of energy transformation.
Windmills harness the energy of the wind and convert it into mechanical energy and then to electrical energy.
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  • Written By: Jessica Pestka
  • Edited By: Lindsay D.
  • Last Modified Date: 02 April 2014
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Energy transformation is the process of changing energy from one form to another. This process is happening all the time, both in the world and within people. When people consume food, the body utilizes the chemical energy in the bonds of the food and transforms it into mechanical energy, a new form of chemical energy, or thermal energy. Energy transformation is an important concept in the application of the physical sciences. The ability for energy to be transformed automates, lights, entertains, and warms the world in an astounding multitude of ways.

The concept of energy transformation can be illustrated in a number of common activities. An engine, such as the engine in a car, converts the chemical energy of gas and oxygen into the mechanical energy of engine movement. A light bulb changes the chemical energy of the bulb into electromagnetic radiation, or light. Windmills harness the energy of the wind and convert it into mechanical energy in the movement of the turbine blades, which is then converted to electrical energy. Solar panels transform light to electricity.

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Energy transformation can also be explained in terms of potential energy, the stored energy of a system, which can be converted into kinetic energy, the energy of movement. For example, a roller coaster sitting at the top of a hill is said to have potential energy. This potential energy is gravitational, which is gained when the coaster moves up the hill. Once the coaster begins to move down the hill, the force of gravity is exerted and the potential energy is transformed into the kinetic energy of the car moving. During energy transformations, potential energy is often transformed to kinetic energy and back again to potential energy.

During any kind of energy transformation, some energy is lost to the environment. As a result of this loss, no machine is ever 100% efficient. Commonly, a portion of the energy lost during energy transformation is lost as heat. This can be observed in practice by noting the heat emitted by a computer, a car, or another type of machine that has been in use for a period of time.

The ability of a given machine or system to convert between forms of energy is called the "energy conversion efficiency." All systems have different energy conversion efficiencies. Water turbines, for instance, have an extremely high energy conversion efficiency of nearly 90%, while combustion engines have from 10% to 50% conversion efficiency. Engineering and physics are constantly in pursuit of systems capable of achieving high energy conversion efficiency.

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Discuss this Article

anon943344
Post 70

I agree with post 67. You are responsible for ensuring the lecture material is correct. The lamp changes the applied electricity (ac or dc) into heat. Because the molecules of the lamp filament resist (but not stop) the flow of electrons, the filament molecules heat up to white hot and emit light and heat. Since to purpose of the lamp is to make light, the heat it produces is considered waste. This is in no way chemical energy transformed into light. Happy trails.

anon349074
Post 67

Last I checked, standard incandescent light bulbs do not use chemical energy to make the transformation to light. They use resistance within the filament, which is metal. No chemical change takes place.

anon305895
Post 59

Give examples showing heat is always released during energy transformation.

anon297727
Post 57

What is the transformation of geothermal energy to electrical energy?

anon283236
Post 53

What happens in an energy change?

anon279054
Post 51

What are the differences and similarities between energy transferred and energy transformed?

anon223753
Post 39

what are the other examples?

anon221476
Post 38

What are all forms of energy and examples of them?

anon194116
Post 35

As a beginning instructor on the topic of energy transformation, I think your explanations are great!

anon170160
Post 34

explain why this involves energy losses and why the proportion lost depends on the type of transformations, and the device or machine being used.

anon163904
Post 31

"During any kind of energy transformation, some energy is lost to the environment." That's also just the transformation of energy. You of course mean that it's not used by the human to reach a certain goal. But is the part of the energy that's

"used" by the human really for the benefit of humankind as a whole, since the use of energy by one human can lead to disprofit (up to death) for other humans - as the u.s. shows us on a daily basis?

anon163901
Post 30

About energy transformation: This means that you'd say that "potential energy" is equal to inner kinetic energy while the kinetic energy is equal to external kinetic energy.

Or, if you rather like to use potential energy, then kinetic energy is equal to inner potential energy while the thing you called potential energy before is external potential energy. You shouldn't use kinetic and potential energy at the same time. Of course you can.

anon151375
Post 29

You guys explain everything very well. just a few examples now and then.

anon150142
Post 28

what's the energy transformation of the work in a water engine to a light bulb?

anon133507
Post 27

There is definitely something about energy still to invent. If we can control the transformation from one type to another type of energy, we can chase the energy barriers and there won't be any requirement to extract fossil fuels.

As Einstein said, with 1 kg of sugar, we can run a car for 10 million kilometers, if we can use it's energy completely. But we could not do it now.

There is much scope to invent many things in energy. Since I am a commerce graduate, I could not dig into it much. But the physics and chemistry guys can dig in depth.

anon129575
Post 25

What is the energy transformation in burning firewood?

anon127636
Post 23

What is conversation energy?

anon125705
Post 22

why is energy transformation important?

anon120247
Post 21

what is an example of energy transformation? -Scientist at Heart

anon116837
Post 19

ah ok i understand now what is energy transformation. thanks for that, researchers.

anon92542
Post 16

what are the energy transforms in:

microwave, digital clock, steam iron, ceiling fan and stove?

anon87355
Post 15

There are really only two types of energy: kinetic (the energy of motion) and potential (stored energy), everything else are really subclasses. Chemical energy is potential, the energy stored in the chemical bonds. The transformation is the interaction between particles (sometimes subatomic particles) and intermolecular (or intramolecular) forces. After that it is more complex.

anon85601
Post 13

how does the transformation work?

anon84856
Post 12

Nicely explained. Although I'm confuzzled about the chemical transformation and how it relates to neuro sciences. Please answer my confuzzlement?!

anon82919
Post 10

there should be more on heat energy and all of the other energies as well.

anon78833
Post 9

can i please have a better explanation of chemical energy transformation?

anon76621
Post 8

Could I have more examples of energy transformation?

anon57099
Post 4

wonderful explanation.

anon52984
Post 3

What are all forms of energy and examples of them?

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