Machines Theory

Understanding thermal energy

Thermal energy is a form of energy obtained when a substance heated up. Although the term thermal energy can be used differently and often loosely. Thermal energy can also be called heat energy as is produced when a rise in temperature causes atoms and molecules to move faster and collide with each other. Today you’ll get to know the definition, examples, diagram, working, transferring method, of thermal or heat energy. you’ll also learn how thermal energy is produced.

thermal energy

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What is thermal energy?

Thermal energy can be defined as energy that is possessed by an object or system due to the movement of particles with the object or the system. Among the majority, thermal energy is known for its ability to do work. This work is the movement of an object due to an applied force. A system is a collection of objects within some boundary. For this reason, thermal energy is described as the ability of something to do work due to the movement of its particles.

This energy is a type of kinetic energy which is the energy of motion because it’s due to the movement of particles. Thermal energy result to something having an internal temperature which can be measured. For instance, a thermometer used within an object or system takes the temperature measurement in Celsius or Fahrenheit. The faster the particle moves within the object, the higher the temperature taken.

Furthermore, heat is a form of energy that always travels from a hotter substance to a colder substance. The hot or cold state of the substance is what we referred to as temperature. So, thermal energy refers to the energy contained within a system that is responsible for its temperature. Heat is the flow of thermal energy. Thermodynamics, which is a branch of physics, deals with how heat is transferred between a different system and how the work is done in the process.

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Examples of thermal energy

Thermal energy has lots of examples we can experience in our daily life. Below are some examples of heat energy:

  • Someone receiving warmth from the sun
  • A cup of hot chocolate
  • Boiling water in a kettle is an example of thermal and kinetic energy.
  • Baking in an oven
  • The heat from a heater.

Looking at boiling water on a stove, the heated element on a stove contains thermal energy. If it increases, the internal energy of the stove also increases. This thermal energy here is the molecules that make up the metal of the stove’s element. These moving molecules are invisible, but they are available. The faster the molecules, the more internal thermal energy they contain.

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Diagram of thermal energy:

thermal of thermal energy

Methods of transferring heat

Thermal energy can be transferred in three basic ways which include convection, conduction, and radiation.


The convection process occurs in many homes as heating often takes place due to the weather condition. The heat transferring process is achieved through gases or liquids. As air is heated in homes, the particles gain heat energy making them move faster, warming the cooler particles. Because hot air is less dense than cold air, it rises and as the cooler air falls, it will be drawn into the heating systems. It will also allow the faster particles to quickly heat up the air. This is known as a circular flow of air and it’s called a convection current, which circles and heat our homes.

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The conduction methods of transferring heat are obtained between objects that are toughing, that is, from one solid to another. A good example of the conduction process that placing a frying pan on a stove, which will warm up when the stove is turned on. When the cool pan is put to the hot burner, heat energy is transferred from the burner to the pan, which in turn heats up. Finally,


In radiation, heat moves through places where there are no molecules in a form of electromagnetic energy. in other words, any item whose heat can be felt without direct connection is radiating energy. a good example is the sun, everyone can feel the heat from the sun when exposed to it. Also, when a room is full of people, you’ll experience natural warmness because each person’s body is radiating heat.

method of transferring thermal energy

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Watch the video below to learn how thermal energy is produced:

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Thermal energy is also be called heat energy as is produced when a rise in temperature causes atoms and molecules to move faster and collide with each other. That is all for this article, where we discussed the definition, examples, transferring methods of heat or thermal energy.

I hope you got enough from the reading, if so, kindly share with other students. Thanks for reading, see you next time!

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