What is Electrical Energy?
In this generation, using electricity is as significant as any other human need including food and water. The moment you charge your phones or turn your televisions on, energy is already being converted to allow your gadgets to function. Electricity is significant because it addresses the needs of our homes and businesses. It could also play a huge role in the future since many of today’s establishments are already opting for renewable sources of electricity.
Electricity, also known as current, is generated through the movement of charged particles through a medium. In the process of electricity generation, electrical energy is used to move such particles.
What, then, is electrical energy? How does it work? In this article, we are going to discuss such form of energy and other salient points regarding it.
Before we move on any further, we have to define what energy is. This gives us a sufficient knowledge of electrical energy, how it works and where it is applied.
Technically, energy is the ability to do work. It cannot be created nor destroyed; it can only be transferred or changed. Hence, energy should be transferred to an object to perform work on the object itself. For example, in turning a fluorescent light on, electrical energy is converted, hence there is a transfer of energy involved.
Electrical energy is a kind of energy that is derived from the movement of electric charge. Such energy could either be kinetic energy or potential energy. When the electric charges are continuously flowing, electrical energy becomes a form of kinetic energy. The faster the movement of the electric charges are, the more electrical energy is being carried. However, electrical energy is typically observed as potential energy because the relative positions of charged particles allow it to be stored.
Electricity is the term used to describe the motion of electric charge through a medium. A medium could come in various forms like a wire.
Various phenomena including electric discharge and lightning are related to electricity. Static electricity, on the other hand, is a form of electrical potential energy. It results from the imbalance of electric charges within the surface of the material.
The presence of an electric charge produced an electric field. It acts on two charges and extends towards infinity. The direction of an electric field is shown in the position of the positive particle if it was placed in the field.
How Does Electrical Energy Work?
To better understand what electrical energy is, it is essential to know how it works. Basically, electrons and protons are crucial to make electricity to work. Electrons refer to negatively charged particles while protons refer to positively charged particles. Electrons in a copper wire are free to move. To function, they have to exert a force which causes other particles to move and do work. Moreover, this force moves two attracted charged particles away from each other.
The electricity which we utilize every day is generated in power plants through the conversion of various natural resources. These resources may be renewable such as water, sun, and wind energy, or non-renewable such as coal, oil, and natural gas. A large magnet rotates coils of wire and produces electric current. The current is sent to a substation in your area through a power grid of high-voltage transmission lines.
The voltage is reduced and distributed through power lines which carry the electrical energy to your homes. Powerlines may be found overhead or underground. They generally carry up to 34,500 volts. However, this is decreased further with transformers to the usual 120 to 240 volts which are safe for homes.
Conductors are substances that allow electricity to move freely through them. This is where electricity passes through as it moves from the generating plants, through the transmission lines, to your homes. Examples of conductors include the power lines, metals, and things that are wet including water and human beings (because we possess water in our bodies).
Examples of Electrical Energy
Electrical energy could be found in various things. We use a lot these things unknowingly, yet we continue to avail of such electricity to cater to our needs. Here are some examples of electrical energy.
- Electrical energy is used to power up a light bulb. The current moves from the outlet to the light bulb through the wire. Light energy is then created when the electric charges slow down in the filament so it could light the bulb.
- Lightning is another example of electrical energy. The negatively charged particles are separated from the positively charged particles. A charge potential develops from this separation. When the separation is fairly high, discharge takes place. This leads to the flow of current in the atmosphere.
- Batteries are also sources of electrical energy. In car batteries, the moving charges resulting from a chemical reaction provide electrical energy to the circuits of the car. In phone batteries, chemical energy is supplied to electric charges. The electrical energy supplies the power so that the phone operates.
- Other specific examples of electrical energy include alternating current (AC) and direct current (DC), capacitors, and the energy produced by electric eels.
Various Interesting Facts About Electrical Energy
Here are significant yet interesting facts about electrical energy.
Fact 1: After being transferred, electrical energy becomes a different type of energy. For example, if it has been transferred to a light bulb, it converts to light energy. Likewise, electrical energy could also be converted to thermal energy and sound energy, among others.
Fact 2: Thales of Miletus, a Greek philosopher and mathematician, discovered that static electricity could be produced by rubbing fur on substances such as amber. The discovery of Thales was one of the first recorded findings regarding electricity.
Fact 3: Benjamin Franklin is one of the most famous scientists who did experiments with electricity. His test with the key on a kite and a storm proved that lightning is the same with electric sparks.
Fact 4: Coal, a non-renewable resource, is the world’s largest source of energy for generating electricity. It is burned in furnaces filled with boiling water. Its steam spins turbines that are attached to generators.
Fact 5: Electricity plays a significant role in the way the heart beats. Primarily, it causes the muscle cells in the heart to contract. Electrocardiogram (ECG) machines are used to measure the electricity that goes through the heart.
Fact 6: Birds sitting on one power line is safe from getting electrocuted. However, if a bird touches another power line, it creates a circuit, causing electrical charges to flow the bird’s body. As a result, the bird gets electrocuted.
Fact 7: The Geysers in California, USA, is one of the most massive renewable energy projects in the world. It consists of 22 geothermal power plants which draw steam from over 350 wells. The Geysers could produce sufficient electricity that could serve 11 million people.
Fact 8: Electrical energy may come in the form of positively charged energy or negatively charged energy. When two charged objects are situated near each other, they either repel or attract other. This generates electrical energy.
Fact 9: Lightning is described as a discharge of electrical energy in the atmosphere. Lightning bolts can travel at around 210,000 kilometers per hour while reaching nearly 30,000 degrees Celsius in terms of temperature.