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Thermal Energy Transfer

Teacher/Instructor Matt Jones
Matt Jones

M.Ed., George Washington University
Dept. chair at a high school

Matt is currently the department chair at a high school in San Francisco. In his spare time, Matt enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and two kids.

Thermal energy transfer involves the transfer of internal energy. The three types of thermal energy transfer are conduction, convection and radiation. Conduction involves direct contact of atoms, convection involves the movement of warm particles and radiation involves the movement of electromagnetic waves.

Thermal energy transfer, thermal energy transfer simply the transfer of internal energy, remember internal energy is all that kinetic and potential energy inside an object and there's 3 main ways that that internal energy can be transferred from one object to another.

The first one is conduction that should be a term that it sounds familiar to you, that's direct contact where, where molecules bump into each other and pass on that kinetic energy so when we have for example a wire, a hot wire and you put it over a flame, those molecules are packed closely together and they're going to bump into each other and they're going to very quickly pass that kinetic energy and that heat on to you through that wire.

Okay, another type of transfer of energy is convection and this is the actual movement of the warmer particles so this involves the movement of particles, well what does that mean? Well good examples of this are air currents you know that warm air rises and so that's moving out warm air from a low place to a warm place if you've ever been in a house and you notice it's always warmer upstairs that's because that warm air is rising through convection currents. Also our ocean currents move in the same way so in the Gulf of Mexico the water gets very warm that warm air expands and moves and crates what we call the Gulf's stream. Those are both good examples of convection, the movement of warm particles from warmer to cooler locations.

The third form of radiation notice both of these, involve movement of either particles or direct contact of particles or molecules. The third type radiation involves the movement of electromagnetic waves and these don't need matter to pass through so the sun is sending these electromagnetic waves directly down to us. What are some of these waves? Well visible light is an electromagnetic wave, micro waves, gamma waves, x-rays, infrared and UV light these are all different types of radiation or electromagnetic waves.

So these are the three important types of thermal energy transfer how energy is transferred from one source to another.