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Q & A: Where does energy go?

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Most recent answer: 03/06/2016
Q:
Does energy keep on converting from one form to another like a cycle or does it come to an end? For eg:- At a hydroelectricity power station water stored has potential energy.when it flows under gravity to a lower level it posses kinetic energy. This energy is made to rotate large turbines and is converted into electrical energy and the for instance it is converted in light energy but in the end there's no more transformation so where's the regeneration of that lost energy?
- Sumedh (age 14)
India
A:

That light energy will be absorbed and converted to heat. Then it will radiate out into space as infrared thermal radiation. It will travel in that form for a long time, once it gets out of the Earth's atmosphere. The same thing happens to energy converted to heat by friction in the turbines, etc.

How easily the infrared can escape the Earth depends on what gases are in the atmosphere. Adding CO2 slows down the flow and thus causes the Earth to warm up. 

Mike W.

 


(published on 03/06/2016)

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