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Energy Transformations

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Energy is the ability to get things done. Energy warms our planet, blows the wind, illuminates our homes, moves the cars on roads, maintains the temperature in our homes and even makes our body work by transmitting signals in our nervous system and by moving the muscles! In the chapter on types of energy, we studied that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. But it can be converted from one form to another. Energy conversion occurs everywhere, all the time. Energy can be transferred from one location to another, this is called energy transfer. For example, when you charge a phone, electricity gets transferred from the plug to the phone battery through the charger. Energy transformation on the other hand, can be defined as the process of changing one form of energy to another. For example, when we use water to generate electricity, the kinetic energy of water is converted into electrical energy. Whether it is transferred or transformed, the total amount of energy doesn’t change. This is known as law of conservation of energy.

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All forms of energy can be classified into two types. Potential energy is energy stored in an object. Kinetic energy is the energy of an object due to its motion. When we hold a ball at a height and release it, the potential energy of the ball is converted into kinetic energy as it falls. In a roller coaster ride, as the train goes up, it builds up potential energy gradually, until it reaches the top. On descending, the potential energy is converted into kinetic energy until it reaches the bottom.


In a wind turbine, the kinetic energy of the wind is converted into mechanical energy that spins the turbine which is finally converted into electrical energy. This electrical energy reaches our homes and we further convert it into heat, light, sound, mechanical and other forms via our electrical appliances! So you see, all the energy forms are related to one other in some way or the other. Can you guess what makes the wind move in the first place?

Chemical energy in food

Transformation of Chemical Energy

We know that the ability to do work is called energy. Where do you get our energy from? Food, right? So the chemical energy stored in food is converted into mechanical energy for us to move, walk, run, and write or to do any other activity. The food also gives us heat energy to maintain a state of homeostasis. Similarly, the chemical energy in fuels is converted into mechanical energy as a car moves. When we use a cell to power a torch, the chemical energy stored in the cell is converted into light energy and some amount of heat energy. When we use a cell to power a radio, the chemical energy of the cell is converted into sound energy.

Transformation of Electrical Energy

An electric fan transforms electrical energy into kinetic energy. An electric bulb transforms electrical energy into light energy and a little heat energy. A toaster converts electrical energy into heat energy and light energy. A bolt of lightning is an example in which large amounts of electrical energy is converted into light, heat, and sound energy.

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Transformation of Light Energy

In the sun, chemical energy and nuclear energy is converted into heat and light. During photosynthesis, the light energy from the sun (solar) is converted into chemical energy and stored in plants. When consumed by animals, this chemical energy gets converted into heat and mechanical energy.

Energy is everywhere around us in different forms. The following are a few examples of energy conversions we see in our day-to-day life.

Check Point

  1. Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. This is called law of ______________.
  2. The two main classification of energy are potential and _________ energy.
  3. When a mango falls off from a tree, its ________ energy is converted into __________.
  4. The electric cell has ___________ energy stored in it.
  5. During photosynthesis, solar energy is converted into _________ energy which is stored in plants.
  6. The electric fan converts electrical energy into ____________.

Answer Key

  1. Conservation of energy.
  2. Kinetic
  3. Potential energy, Kinetic energy
  4. Chemical
  5. Chemical
  6. Mechanical energy or kinetic energy

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