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Type of energy: these are the 20 forms in which energy is manifested

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

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

The potential energy, on the other hand, depends on the condition of a body with respect to a reference. For example, a rock on top of a mountain has more potential energy than the same rock at the base of the mountain.

20 ways in which energy manifests itself

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

1. Solar energy

Active regions of the sun solar energy energy type
Active regions of the Sun (Credit: NASA/SDO).

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 becomes radiant energy. This travels through space as electromagnetic waves of the ultraviolet (UV) type, 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.

radiant energy type of energy
Tanning beds or solariums rely on UV radiation to cause the skin to tan.

3. Nuclear energy

The nuclear energy it is what is stored in the nucleus of the atom, the result of the forces that hold protons and neutrons together.

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 resonate. This is the chemical energy, which depends on the atomic structure and the forces of attraction in the bonds of a molecule. Chemical energy can be released by means of the chemical reaction.

For example, gasoline is a mixture of hydrocarbons that when it undergoes a combustion reaction releases its chemical energy in thermal energy, which is used to move engines. The chemical energy of the gasoline is released by combustion inside the pistons and produces motion.

5. Bond energy

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

For example, in the HOH water molecule the binding energy is equal to 460 kiloJoules per mole (kJ/mol), which is equal to the energy required to break the bond between oxygen and the two hydrogen atoms in a mole of water.

6. Electrical energy

Electrical energy is the product of the attraction of positively and negatively charged particles and the movement of electrical charges that manifests itself in the 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 electric current.

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

7. Gravitational potential energy

Gravitational potential energy is one form of potential energy. In this case, we use com reference body the Earth to which a gravitational field is associated. The Earth exerts a force of attraction on objects towards the center. That’s why we say that things “fall”.

8. Bond dissociation energy

The bond dissociation energy or bond enthalpy is used in chemistry to define the change in total energy of the system when a covalent bond is broken by homolysis, that is, when the atoms are separated the electrons are divided equitably For example, in the age (C2H6) 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 things do not happen spontaneously, so it is necessary as a “push” of energy for them to take place. The source of the activation energy is generally the thermal energy of the surroundings.

10. Elastic potential energy

elastic potential energy
A catapult uses elastic potential energy to throw objects.

Elastic potential energy is a form of potential energy, as it relates an initial condition of an object that can be stretched, compressed, or tightened. By stretching a ligament, it increases its potential energy so work can be done. This is how arrows and catapults work.

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 which is the sum of its potential energy when it is at the limit of the mountain and kinetic energy when it acquires 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.

You may also be interested in kinetic and potential energy.

12. Sound energy

Sound energy is the energy 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 since it involves the vibration of the particles and the distance they travel.

Sound energy is used to:

  • The SONAR sound range and navigation system.
  • The echosonogram.
  • The ultrasound for effect doppler.

13. Thermal energy

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

The heat is the flow of thermal energy between the bodies This process can occur through three phenomena:

  1. radiation: heat is transferred by means of infrared radiation.
  2. driving: 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 type of energy
Geyser in El Tatio, Chile.

Geothermal energy corresponds to heat of the Earth, a source of energy that lies beneath 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, using thermal waters. Iceland is one of the countries that benefits the most from geothermal energy

15. Magnetic energy

magnetic energy type of energy
Magnetic trains move thanks to magnetic energy.

The magnetic energy it is the energy product of the attraction and the position of the bodies in a field of magnetic force capable of doing work. The classic example is achieved in two magnets when we keep them apart. At this point their magnetic potential energy is greater than when they are together.

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

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

16. Wind energy

wind energy type of energy
Wind turbines generate electricity from the wind.

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

You may be interested to see The advantages and disadvantages of wind energy.

17. Tidal energy

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

18. Blue energy

ocean blue energy
The energy contained in the oceans is abundant but hardly usable.

The energy from the ocean it’s known as blue energy, and it includes:

  • tidal energy,
  • the energy of currents,
  • wave energy,
  • thermal energy and
  • osmosis

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

19. Dark energy

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

In the late 20th century, two groups of astronomers devoted themselves to studying the brightness of a particular type of supernova, the Ia supernovae. These are white dwarf stars that explode with such intensity and brightness that they look like 1 billion suns.

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

20. Energy of matter

In 1905, Albert Einstein presented the “Special Theory of Relativity”, where he derived his famous equation E=mc2, 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 a vacuum (c) is a constant equal to approximately 300 million meters per second.

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

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