Energy is an important part of our lives. We use it to do the things we enjoy like cooking, heating our homes, and powering up our smartphones. There are different forms of energy such as chemical energy, electrical energy, mechanical energy, sound energy, nuclear energy, gravitational energy, etc. These energies have a huge importance in our life.
All those different forms are grouped under two types of energy: kinetic and potential energy. Before we go into the detailed study of different types of energy, it is important to know the different ways in which energy sources can be classified. They are
- primary and secondary energy
- commercial and non-commercial energy
- renewable and non-renewable energy.
Let us discuss them in detail.
Primary and secondary energy
Primary energy is the type of energy that is found in nature. They appear in their original form. These types of primary energy resources are easy to find. The primary source of energy can be either renewable or non-renewable energy.
- non-renewable energy such as coal, natural gas and Nuclear power are the types of primary energy.
- renewable energy such as Solar energy, hydro energy and wind energy are some of the types of primary energy.
Secondary sources of energy come from primary energy sources and can be used more than once. For example, burning the wood makes it a secondary source, because you get energy from the tree.
Fossil fuels like coal, natural gas, nuclear power are the primary energy sources, which on combustion produces thermal energy, which is the secondary energy. Thermal energy can be used to generate steam, which operates a generator to produce electricity. The generated electrical energy is also secondary energy.
The types of secondary energy sources include
- solar power from sun,
- wind power from wind turbines,
- geothermal heat deep under Earth’s surface,
- hydropower water running downhill through dams to spin generators.
Commercial and Non-commercial energy
Commercial sources of energy can be bought at a store or online for money. These commercial energies are non-renewable because they cannot be replaced once used up. Commercial types of energy include diesel, lignite, coal, crude oil, electricity. These energies are imported and exported to and from different countries for money.
Non-commercial sources of energy are usually free or very cheap. It cannot be traded in the commercial market. Non-commercial types of energy include renewable resources like sunlight, wind, rain and geothermal heat under Earth’s surface.
Agricultural wastes, cow dung, rice husk, firewoods, cattle dung, sugarcane waste and coconut shells come under the non-commercial types of energy.
Renewable and Non-renewable energy
Non-renewable energy sources are finite and can’t be replenished, and cause serious damage to the environment. Non-renewable sources include coal, natural gas, nuclear power and oil.
These fuels have been formed over a long period of time from the remains of plants and animals whose CO2 was converted over millions of years into fossil fuels.
In contrast, renewable energy sources are those which can be sustained infinitely as they can be replenished quickly. Renewable energy is constantly produced in nature so it will not run out over time.
The most common types of these include hydroelectric power, wind power, tidal energy, biomass and solar energy. Such renewable energy does not make any harm to humans and the environment.
What are the different types of energy?
Although there are different types of energy, all are broadly classified into two types: kinetic energy and potential energy.
Potential Energy is the stored form of energy in an object that results from an object being at rest. One usually thinks of potential energy as stored energy that an object has due to its position “up high” or “down low.”
In physics, the term “potential” indicates a property that has not been actualized yet but could become so with time and effort. Potential Energy also refers to the unused ability to do work. For example, A man standing in a rest position possesses some potential energy.
There are so many real-time examples of potential energy. The Sun is a form of potential energy because it can be converted into other types of energy. Wind power is an example of potential energy because it can be converted into electricity, which in turn creates kinetic and thermal energy
Fossil fuels are another type of potential energy that can be used to create kinetic and thermal energies for many purposes.
Everyday examples of potential energy include a ball held above the ground, a stretched rubber band, and gasoline stored under pressure in a car’s gas tank. A ball resting on a hilltop has the potential to become kinetic energy if it rolls down the hill and becomes moving.
A chemical bomb has a chemical potential energy in it. When exploded, it gets transformed into kinetic energy and thermal energy.
Kinetic energy is the energy of an object that is in motion relative to other objects. This definition might leave you wondering what exactly kinetic energy is, how it’s connected to movement. Have no fear! We will discuss all these things below. Let’s start by looking at some examples of kinetic energy, which you might find easier to understand.
There is a kinetic energy example that might be familiar to you, and that’s when someone kicks a ball. If the kicker puts a lot of effort into his kick, he will give the ball a lot of kinetic energy. The ball will bounce off your foot quickly and go further than it would have if you simply dropped it to the floor.
A car parked at the top of a steep hill has no kinetic energy because it is not moving forward or backward. If the parking brake is released, however, it will then have kinetic energy as it moves forward or backward, depending on how you look at it.
How does kinetic energy relate to potential energy?
An object with mass has something called “inertia” which makes it more difficult for that object to change its velocity (speed or direction). For example, when you are walking along without paying attention and trip over a rock on the ground, you may find it difficult to keep your balance.
This is because if you are moving, your inertia keeps you going forward whether or not you want to remain in that direction. When we trip over that rock and fall, it takes some time to come to a complete stop, it is due to the kinetic energy and inertia of the body.
Other types of Energy
There are different forms of energy available throughout the universe. Without the existing forms, it is impossible for lives to sustain on the earth.
Let us discuss the different forms of energy such as thermal energy, mechanical energy, chemical energy, electrical energy, sound energy, nuclear energy, gravitational energy, etc.
Thermal energy also called heat energy is produced as a result of a rise in temperature in any substance. When temperature increases, more thermal energy (heat) is transferred to an object. This means that the kinetic energy of the atoms and molecules making up the object also increases.
Increasing or decreasing an object’s temperature affects how much thermal energy it has; this is because temperature directly relates to the average kinetic energy of particles in an object. When the temperature increases, the atoms move faster, increasing the kinetic energy of the atoms, creating more thermal energy. This is why raising or lowering the temperature of an object can change its shape.
The transfer of thermal energy happens in four forms: conduction, convection, radiation or reflection. Conduction is when thermal energy carries through a substance like metal. Convection is when thermal energy moves through a fluid like air or water (this is what keeps the planet warm).
Radiation is when heat travels away from an object into space. And finally, reflection occurs when light or other wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation bounce off an object and travel in another direction.
There are a lot of examples of thermal energy usage in our daily life. Some of them are making a cup of tea, baking a cake in the owen, the warmth of being under the sunlight, etc. When you stand under the sun the thermal energy from the sun is absorbed by your body. Similarly, when making a cup of tea, the thermal energy from the fire is transferred into the milk to make it to boil.
Chemical energy is the potential or energy stored in a chemical substance. The more chemicals are mixed together, the higher their combined chemical energy becomes. Energy can be released when substances interact with one another and change chemically.
Cooking food involves chemical reactions. In fact, all living organisms involve and rely on many different kinds and forms of chemical reactions. Chemical energy can be found in foods we eat every day that comes from different sources such as carbohydrates, lipids, and proteins through the process of metabolism.
A common example of this is combustion – burning wood releases heat, light, and gas (carbon dioxide) molecules that were present in the wood’s cells before it was lit on fire. Chemical reactions also release heat; for example, baking bread produces heat from yeast reacting to sugars converting into carbon dioxide and alcohol. Chemical energy can also be found in fuels like gasoline, coal, and solar energy.
Chemical energy can also be used for many things including powering cars or heating homes with gas furnaces. Due to the chemical energy present inside the volcano, hot molten rock and ash escape through the earth’s crack.
Mechanical energy is the combination of potential and kinetic energy. Another name for mechanical energy is “work” because this type of power makes objects move or change their position due to forces acting upon them. Mechanical energy is also called as Motion energy.
Objects with a certain amount of potential energy have the capability to release that stored energy as kinetic or movement energy. This process can be measured and tracked, allowing scientists and engineers to figure out how much mechanical energy is being used up in a specific situation.
A simple example of mechanical energy is a ball at the top of a hill – its gravitational potential force will create a kinetic force as it rolls down. The more potential force there is in an object, the greater amount of work it can do on any given level surface.
Consider another example of using a hammer to hit a nail and drive it into the wall. When the hammer is at rest, it possesses potential energy. When we swing the hammer and hit the nail, the kinetic energy act on the nail and penetrates it into the wall. So the mechanical energy which is a combination of potential energy and kinetic energy will cause the nail to drive through the wall.
Electrical energy is the energy that is used to power appliances in your home, like your TV or stove. Generally, Electrical energy can be produced using different methods, including wind turbines and solar panels.
Electrical energy is caused by the flow of electrons. Electrons are negatively charged particles that flow through certain materials when there is an electrical voltage or “potential difference” between two ends of the material. The resulting electric field can be used to do work on other objects.
Electrical energy is produced from other energies such as wind energy, hydro energy, chemical energy, nuclear energy. For example, chemical energy in the fuel cell is used to produce electrical energy. Similarly, the hydropower in the water is used to run the turbine of an alternator, which generates electrical energy.
Electrical energy is generated from various power plants such as thermal power plants, nuclear powr plants, hydro power plants, etc.
Radiant energy is one of the different forms of energy in the form of light. The word light, as we use it today, includes all forms of electromagnetic radiation: X-rays, ultraviolet light, visible light (as we see), infrared radiation (heat) and even cosmic rays. The radiant energy is made up of tiny particles called photons.
For example, Fireworks are all radiant energy because they make light (which is electromagnetic radiation – like radio waves, microwaves, X-rays and gamma rays) when they explode.
The Sun is also an example of radiant energy because it is radiated towards the earth and can be visible as light during the daytime.
Nuclear energy is a type of energy stored in the nucleus of an atom. There are two types of nuclear reactions: fission and fusion. Fission is where atoms split to release energy. Fusion is where atoms merge together to release even more energy than fission.
The process involves splitting or combining isotopes in order to produce nuclear fuel. One way this can be done is by bombarding uranium with neutrons until it splits into smaller particles, releasing heat and radiation as a result. This heat energy can be used to generate electrical energy.
This process is performd in nuclear power plants to produce electricity. Nuclear energy can be utilized to provide power for homes and factories, but there are concerns surrounding the safety of this form of energy production and storage.
Gravitational energy is the potential or kinetic energy of an object due to its position in a gravitational field. The total amount of gravitational energy at any point is equal to the sum of both forms (potential plus kinetic).
The sun and all celestial bodies create gravitational fields and thus have gravitational energy. Since we know that the earth has a constant gravitational pull on us, we also have gravitational energy just by standing here on earth.
In simple words, it is because of gravity. Gravity is the force that pulls objects together. It is a universal attractive force and has an infinite range (it never diminishes). Gravity’s strength is based upon the planet’s mass.
As said, the Sun is the main source of gravitational potential energy. The Earth’s gravity pulls you down, but it also pulls the Moon in its orbit around the Earth. We have to work hard to lift heavy things because they are being pulled towards the ground by gravity.
Similarly, when you throw a ball, it always comes to the ground. Also, when you jump high, you always land on the ground but on the moon or mars? Why does it happen?
It’s all because of the gravitational energy acting on the earth. Roller coasters, water stored in the dam are some other examples of gravitational energy.
Sound energy travels through the vacuum in the form of waves. It is created by vibrating objects and can be transferred from one object to another as it travels through a medium such as air.
The speed at which sound travels depends on the type of material, as well as its temperature and density. In general, for each doubling of distance traveled, the speed of sound drops by about 6 decibels.
When you speak or when you shout loud, you produce sound energy. Sound can be created by mechanical vibrations – for example, hitting two cymbals together creates loud clashing sounds because they vibrate back and forth at high speeds.
It can also be created by objects moving in fluids like water or air – whales use their flippers to create high-pitched noises called whale song while dolphins produce low-frequency clicks with their teeth.
Elastic energy is the ability of an object to be stretched or compressed and then return to its original shape. It is the energy stored in solid, elastic objects when they are stretched or deformed.
Energy is stored in many physical systems, including stretching rubber bands, bending metal bars, and even water pressure. Elastic energy can be converted to other forms of energy such as heat and kinetic energy.
The amount of elasticity in a material can be determined by measuring its extension at break or stress. A rubber band has more elastic energy than a steel wire because it will stretch farther before breaking.
Imagine the elastic energy in the coiled spring, which can be stretched and compressed too. The amount of elastic energy in spring depends on the type of material in the spring.