Types of energy: 20 ways energy manifests itself

In physics and chemistry, there are two basic types of energy: kinetic and potential .

Kinetic energy is the energy associated with motion . We can see it in nature in the water of the rivers, the waves on the beach, the wind or the heating of objects.

Potential energy, for its part, depends on the condition of a body with respect to a reference . For example, a rock at the top of a mountain has higher potential energy than the same rock at the base of the mountain.

20 ways energy manifests itself

Kinetic and potential energy can occur in a wide variety of ways in nature, as we will see below.

1. Solar energy

The source of solar energy is the nuclear fusion of hydrogen . In the Sun, four hydrogen nuclei (four protons) fuse into a helium nucleus, which has less mass than the four hydrogen nuclei.

The energy from the nuclear fusion process is converted into radiant energy. It travels through space as ultraviolet (UV) electromagnetic waves, visible light, and infrared rays. Life on Earth depends fundamentally on solar energy.

2. Radiant energy

Radiation such as light, X-rays, and heat are forms of energy that we know as radiant energy . They appear as electromagnetic waves that originate from the simultaneous vibration of electrons in an electric and magnetic field. These waves travel through space at the speed of light 300,000 km / s.

3. Nuclear energy

The nuclear energy is stored in the nucleus of the atom, result of the forces holding the protons and neutrons.

In a nuclear reaction, an atom is transformed into a different one with the release of energy, either through radioactive decay, nuclear fission or nuclear fusion.

In nuclear fission, a heavy nucleus receives a neutron that makes it unstable, releasing energy and two new atoms.

4. Chemical energy

Another form of potential energy is what we get between atoms that join together. This is the chemical energy , which depends on the atomic structure and the attractive forces in the bonds of a molecule. Chemical energy can be released through chemical reaction .

For example, gasoline is a mixture of hydrocarbons that when it undergoes a combustion reaction releases its chemical energy into thermal energy, which is used to power engines. The chemical energy of gasoline is released by combustion inside the pistons, producing movement.

5. Binding energy

Binding energy in chemistry is the measure of the strength of the bond between two atoms . It is calculated experimentally by measuring the heat it takes to break a mole of molecules into their individual atoms. The higher the binding energy, the stronger and closer the atoms will be bound together.

For example, in the HOH water molecule the binding energy is equal to 460 kiloJoule per mole (kJ / mol), which is the same as saying that it is the energy required to break the bond between oxygen and the two atoms of hydrogen in one mole of water.

6. Electric power

Electric energy is the product of the attraction of positively and negatively charged particles and of the movement of electric charges that manifests itself in electricity . It is a form of potential and kinetic energy.

In atoms, negatively charged electrons can move freely in certain materials called conductors. The movement or flow of these electrons is what we know as an electric current .

Electricity is the engine of modern civilization as we know it today. Electric energy is in electrical and electronic equipment, in our means of transportation, in our entertainment and many other human activities.

7. Gravitational potential energy

Gravitational potential energy is one of the forms of potential energy. In this case, we use the Earth as a reference body to which a gravitational field is associated. The Earth exerts an attractive force on objects towards its center. That is why we say that things “fall”.

8. Bond dissociation energy

The dissociation energy of the bond or enthalpy of bond is used in chemistry to define the change in total energy of the system when a covalent bond breaks by homolysis, that is, in the separation of the atoms the electrons are divided equally. For example, in ethane (C 2 H 6 ) the dissociation energy of one of the CH bonds will be 423 kJ / mol.

Each bond in a molecule will have its own dissociation energy, so a molecule with four bonds will need more energy to break than a molecule with only one bond.

9. Activation energy

In chemistry, the term “activation energy” is used to designate the amount of energy that is required for a reaction to occur . Many chemical reactions in living beings do not occur spontaneously, so it takes a “push” of energy for them to take place. The source of the activation energy is usually the thermal energy of the surroundings.

10. Elastic potential energy

Elastic potential energy is a form of potential energy as it relates to an initial condition of an object that can be stretched, compressed, or twisted. Stretching a rubber band increases its potential energy so work can be done. This is the working principle of arrows and catapults.

11. Mechanical energy

Mechanical energy combines potential energy and kinetic energy, that is, the motion and position of an object come together to do work . For example, the carousel on a roller coaster has mechanical energy that is the sum of its potential energy when it is at the top of the mountain and kinetic energy when it gains speed. At all times the mechanical energy will be the same, what will vary will be the potential and kinetic energies, depending on the height and speed of the cart.

12. Sound energy

Sound energy is the energy that we get in sound . It is reflected as waves that vibrate through physical media such as water, air, and solid materials. It is a form of mechanical energy in that it involves the vibration of the particles and the distance they travel.

Sound energy is used in:

  • The SONAR navigation and sound range system.
  • The ecosonogram.
  • Ultrasound effect Doppler .

13. Thermal energy

One way kinetic energy is presented is in thermal energy or internal energy. It is kinetic energy because it is derived from the vibrations or movement of the molecules and atoms that make up the bodies. We can measure this energy with the thermometer, since temperature is a reflection of this movement. A body with a temperature of 50ºC will have more thermal energy than the same body at 0ºC.

The Heat is the flow of thermal energy between bodies. This process can be given by three phenomena:

  1. Radiation : heat is transferred through infrared radiation.
  2. Conduction : transfer occurs by contact of two bodies at different temperatures.
  3. Convection : hot air transfers heat.

You may be interested in knowing the three forms of heat transfer: Conduction, convection and radiation

14. Geothermal energy

Geothermal energy corresponds to the heat of the Earth , a source of energy that lies below the surface. Although geothermal energy is thought to manifest itself in hot springs and geysers, it goes further. The energy potential stored inside the Earth can be harnessed through geothermal wells.

One of the oldest uses of geothermal energy was space heating, recreation and therapy, with the use of thermal waters. Iceland is one of the countries that gets the most benefit from geothermal energy

15. Magnetic energy

The magnetic energy is the energy product of attraction and position of the bodies in a magnetic force field capable of performing a job. The classic example we get in two magnets when we keep them separate. At this point their magnetic potential energy is higher than when they are together.

Each magnet has a magnetic field, which is the area of ​​action where the attraction is felt, and two opposite positive and negative regions, called magnetic poles. The positive pole attracts the negative pole, while like poles repel each other.

Maglevs are railroads that move thanks to magnetic energy. These levitate or float on a magnetized platform at intervals producing movement. It is also an example of how magnetic energy is transformed into kinetic energy.

16. Wind energy

When the air sets in motion it is what we know as wind. The kinetic energy of the wind has been used since ancient times to perform a variety of jobs, such as sailing, grinding grain (windmills), and more recently, to generate electricity by wind turbines.

You may be interested in seeing The advantages and disadvantages of wind energy .

17. Tidal energy

The kinetic energy of the marine currents takes advantage of the rise and fall of the sea water produced by the gravitational forces of the Sun and the Moon in the form of tidal energy .

18. Blue energy

The coming energy of the ocean known as blue energy, and includes:

  • the energy of the tides,
  • the energy of currents,
  • the energy of the waves,
  • thermal energy and
  • osmosis.

The ocean is one of the most abundant sources of energy on Earth but probably the least exploited. Theoretically, the oceans could provide energy to the entire planet without polluting more reliably and predictably than the Sun and the wind.

19. Dark energy

Dark energy is an energy that permeates space , in fact, it represents approximately 70% of the components of the Universe. The term “dark energy” was coined by cosmologist Michael Turner in 1998 to give a name to the cosmological constant proposed by Einstein at the beginning of the 20th century.

At the end of the 20th century, two groups of astronomers studied the brightness of a particular type of supernova, supernovae Ia. These are white dwarf stars that explode with such intensity and brightness that they look like a billion suns.

Both groups found that the brightness of the supernovae was less intense than expected, that is, they were further apart than the initial estimate obtained for a universe of matter only. This accelerated expansion of the Universe is explained by a component with a strongly negative pressure called dark energy.

20. Energy of matter

In 1905, Albert Einstein presented the “Special Theory of Relativity”, where he derived his famous equation E = mc 2 , sometimes called the law of mass-energy equivalence. This formula indicates that the mass of a body ( m ) is a measure of the energy content ( E ) and the speed of light in vacuum ( c ) is a constant equal to approximately 300 million meters per second.

Radioactive elements convert part of their mass into energy. With this formula you can calculate the energy that is released in a nuclear reaction, which is the binding energy that keeps the nucleus of the atom compact.

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