10 Examples of Thermal Energy

Cooking on stovetops, combustion in car engines, and steam boiling to spin turbines constitute everyday examples of thermal energy in action. The warmth from space heaters, body heat from metabolism, and hot beverages cooling demonstrate heat transference forms. Deserts absorbing sunlight, fireplaces emitting infrared, and compost piles releasing decompositional energy further exemplify thermal sources that utilize or discard warmth.

Examples of Thermal Energy

Here are the 10 real-life examples of thermal energy:

1. Cooking on Stovetop

When you boil water in a kettle or cook food in a pan on a stovetop, the heating element provides thermal energy to the water or food. This thermal energy from the heat source causes the molecules to move faster and the temperature to rise.

image showing Cooking on Stovetop as an example of thermal energy

Do You Know?

Over 70% of households worldwide rely on stovetops as their primary cooking appliances.

2. Car Engines

In a gasoline car engine, the explosions of the air/fuel mixture unleashes energy in the form of heat. This thermal energy converts into kinetic energy that spins the crankshaft to move the vehicle. Thermal energy propels the car.

image showing Car Engines as an example of thermal energy

Do You Know?

Only 12-30% of the thermal energy is converted into mechanical work in a gas-powered vehicle engine.

3. Space Heaters

Space heaters warm up a room by emitting thermal radiation from electric heating elements. The radiant heat transfers its thermal energy into objects it strikes like people and furniture, increasing their molecules’ vibration and the room temperature.

image showing Space Heaters as an example of thermal energy

Do You Know?

Over 80% of US households use supplemental room heaters.

4. Body Heat

Our bodies generate heat internally as a byproduct of metabolic processes that create thermal energy. The flowing blood carries this warmth from internal organs to the skin where heat transfers to the surroundings.

image showing Body Heat as an example of thermal energy

Do You Know?

The average person produces as much heat as a 100 watt lightbulb.

5. Steam Engines

Coal burning boilers in steam engines deliver thermal energy to water to produce steam at high temperatures and pressures. This steam’s expansive force then propels engines and locomotives through thermal energy.

image showing Steam Engines as an example of thermal energy

Do You Know?

The first steam locomotives hit top speeds of over 160 kph.

6. Clothes Irons

Heating elements in modern electric irons transfer thermal energy to the metal base plate to generate enough heat to straighten garment wrinkles. The metal component then conducts this warmth to smooth the fabric.

image showing Clothes Irons as an example of thermal energy

Do You Know?

Standard irons reach temperatures between 180 to 220 degrees Celsius.

7. Hot Beverages

Your morning coffee or tea contains thermal energy from heated liquid that slowly dissipates into the cup and surroundings through radiation and air contact as the drink cools.

image showing Hot Beverages as an example of thermal energy

Do You Know?

People began regularly consuming hot tea and coffee just 400-500 years ago.

8. Desert Climate

Dry deserts absorb a high percentage of sunlight as thermal energy due to direct exposure and less evaporative cooling. This makes desert heat a primary example of thermal energy input on global scales.

image showing Desert Climate as an example of thermal energy

Do You Know?

Desert surface temperatures can exceed 70 degrees Celsius.

9. Fireplaces and Candles

Burning wood or wax produces flames that give off thermal energy that warms people and rooms near the fires through convection currents and infrared radiation from the heat. 

image showing Fireplaces and Candles as an example of thermal energy

Do You Know?

The first fireplaces were created about 390,000 years ago.

10. Composting Organic Matter

The bacterial breakdown of leaf litter, manure, and other composting organic matter releases stored chemical energy as rising heat. The byproduct is a nutrient-rich fertilizer and useful thermal energy discharge.

image showing Composting Organic Matter as an example of thermal energy

Do You Know?

Industrial composting can reach temperatures greater than 55 degrees Celsius.

Also Read:

Examples of Potential EnergyMechanical Energy ExamplesExamples of Kinetic Energy
Convection ExamplesMetaphysics Examples in Real LifeExamples Of Bose-Einstein Condensate

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