Understanding The Energy Notion In Engineering

In engineering, energy is a very important topic that is dealt with firmly by different kinds of calculations. Energy is directly related to the cost of a system. So, an engineering approach is required to thoroughly calculate the energy. 

But first of all, you need to understand the energy notion in terms of engineering. Here, you can find some detailed information about energy, forms of energy, and energy units that are used in different countries and unit systems. 

Some Energy Terms In Engineering

As you know there are lots of kinds of forms of energy such as kinetic energy, potential energy, thermal energy, electrical energy, and so on. 

Total Energy

But if there is a system that is dealt with, all the energy of that system is called total energy. The total energy of a system includes, thermal, mechanical, kinetic, potential, electrical, magnetic, chemical, and nuclear. And this total energy is denoted with ‘E’ and ‘e’ in terms of unit mass basis. 

Internal Energy

There is another definition of energy which is called internal energy. The internal energy of a system is related to the energy caused by molecular activities and situations. The internal energy of a system is denoted with ‘U’ and ‘u’ in terms of unit mass basis also. 

Internal energy is generally associated with the kinetic and potential energies of atoms and molecules. 

Sensible Energy

A human being can sense the kinetic energy of molecules and atoms as heat which is also called sensible energy or sensible heat. This molecular kinetic energy is firmly associated with the temperature of the system. 

Latent Energy

Internal energy is also related to the interatomic bonds which hold the molecules and atoms together to compose the solids. There are different kinds of interatomic bonds. Some of them are weak and some of them are strong. If a required amount of energy is given to the system, these interatomic bonds will ve overcome and phase change occur. 

The energy required to obtain this phase change, for instance, solid to liquid, is called latent energy.

Chemical Energy

Chemical energy or bond energy is related to the bonding power between atoms of molecules. To change this bond energy or release this bond energy, chemical reactions must occur. As you noticed above, there is no need for chemical reactions to release other forms of energy. 

Nuclear Energy

Nuclear energy is dependent on the bond energies of sub-atomic particles. Nuclear reactions are required to release this very high amount of energy. 

Most Common Energy Units In The World

In engineering and scientific calculations, the most common unit of energy is ‘Joule’.  But there is another problem with the English system which is called as British thermal unit(Btu). British thermal unit is defined as; the amount of energy required to raise the 1 lbm of water at 60F, 1F. 

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But there is great ease with the British thermal unit. 1 British thermal unit is equal to 1.055 kilojoules which makes it easier to apply to calculations. 

There is another unit which is called ‘calorie’ and it is denoted as ‘cal’. A calorie is defined as, the amount of energy required to raise 1 Celsius degree 1 gram of water which is at 14.5 Celsius degrees. 1 Calorie is equal to 4.18 Joule. 


General understanding of energy in engineering and scientific practice can be summarized like above. 

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