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Translations of Encyclopedia about Physics


Machinery Like Equipment Used to Transform Energy

From the perspective of physics, there are many forms of energy, such as heat, light, kinetic, electrical and chemical energy. The individual forms of energy may be fundamentally transformed into all other forms of energy.

According to the law of maintaining energy, energy can be neither destroyed nor created but rather only converted into another form. With each transformation of energy, a part of the energy is "lost". But that does mean that any energy has disappeared but rather that not all of the relevant energy had been transformed into the desired form. With each transformation, heat is created, such as with the warming of an engine due to the friction of its individual parts. This is why, when creating electrical energy from coal or from gas in thermal electric stations, waste energy is generated as a bi-product. It is never possible to attain 100% efficiency in this sort of production.

Natural sources of energy on our earth are not separated uniformly. Just think of the location of water supplies or fertile land used for the production of food in various parts of the world. There is a similar situation with energy. In different areas we require different sources of energy which, to a large degree, must be generated artificially.

Energy is not directly generated using technology but rather, during its "production", its primary form is converted, an outcome which becomes commercially viable. This principle is not a new one. We need only refer to the functioning of organic forms of life. We ourselves consume food energy, where the chemical energy of food is transformed, for example, into movement energy, enabling us to move our muscles, have constant blood circulation, to breath and so on.

The most broadly used machinery which transform energy are engines, generators and heating plant machinery.

In this way, an artificially created transformation of molecular state by burning creates heat or causes some object to move. Electrical current can be generated using kinetic, geothermal or solar energy.

Combustion Engines

A combustible substance is ignited in the combustion chamber of a motor and, during its combustion, generates pressure. This pressure acts on the cylinders of a power driven machine, such as the engine of a car. During this process, chemical energy is transformed into heat energy (by its burning) and subsequently into mechanical energy.

Electrical Motors

The circular motion which may propel a machine is caused by magnets positioned around a metal core within the electrical motor. In this case, electrical energy is transformed into kinetic energy.

Windmills and Wind Turbines

Wind propel rotors, which transfer moving energy into a generator, which then produces electrical current.

Thermal Power Stations

We can refer to all electrical power plants in this way, those which produce electrical energy using heat. The source of the heat energy is most often fossil fuels such as coal, gas and oil, although there are other kinds of electrical power plants, such as nuclear, or geothermal power plants, which uses heat found within the earth. Heat is used to create steam, which is used in turn to drive or propel turbines. In turn, the turbines are connected to a generator, which transforms the kinetic or moving energy into electrical energy. In this process, the heat energy is transformed first into mechanic energy and then into electrical energy.

Hydro Electric Power Plants

Dams raise the water level of a river, after which water is held behind the dam and released through piping, in which turbines are located. These turbines in turn drive or propel generators, which generate electrical current. The potential energy of water within the piping is transformed into kinetic energy, which is transformed into electrical energy within the generators.

Solar Collectors

Sun rays fall on solar collectors. This speeds up the molecular vibration of particles within the collectors (heat energy is transformed into electromagnetic energy), causing electrons to travel in a current circuit to produce electrical energy.

Nuclear Power Plants

The artificial fission of atoms (atom nuclei) releases atomic (nuclear) energy. This energy is captured in the form of heat in the primary circuit and transformed into electrical energy in a generator. Nuclear power plants are also considered as thermal power plants.

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