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Thread: Electrical Potential Energy

  1. #1 Electrical Potential Energy 
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    Hey guys.

    Well this is my 1st post. :P Im in gr12. And I simply love science. Yesterday me and my dad just talked for 4 hours non stop about science. :P

    Anyway, I been trying to find out, is there a way to keep Electrical Potential Energy in a pure form? Eg, a battery is chemical Potential Energy that is transfured to electrical Energy. So a battery is actually chemical. But can you have something that starts off with electrical?

    Just curious.


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    A capacitor will hold a charge for a while. An inductor also stores energy in the magnetic field but current flow cause it to dissipate pretty fast, unless it is a superconductor. Check this out.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superco...energy_storage


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    A pure source of energy transferance?

    Some say that there exists a general amount of enery, purely, between god and the devil, between a positive and a negative. In terms of a naturally occuring event, which science investigates, a natural discharge ever present, ever accessible, you ask what conservationailists have yet to realise, you ask what industrialists have yet to tap into, you ask what the faithful have yet to be provided.

    This came up in your discussion with your father?
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    Quote Originally Posted by theQuestIsNotOver
    A pure source of energy transferance?

    Some say that there exists a general amount of enery, purely, between god and the devil, between a positive and a negative. In terms of a naturally occuring event, which science investigates, a natural discharge ever present, ever accessible, you ask what conservationailists have yet to realise, you ask what industrialists have yet to tap into, you ask what the faithful have yet to be provided.

    This came up in your discussion with your father?
    Streamsystems, go back up to the attic and behave yourself. That's a good girl.
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  6. #5  
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    As Harold says, a capacitance/inductance can store enrgy using electric/magnetic fields. Many circuits with large capacitances/inductances involved, have safety diodes to protect more sensitive parts of the circuit (And people!) when the energy is released (This can happen almost instantly depending on the circuit). A spark plug works on this concept for example.

    In AC circuits, you also have the concept of 'Reactive power' (Or 'Wattless power')...energy that flows around the circuit, but is not used up...as opposed to normal power, which is dissipated by the circuit.

    Reactive power comes into play when you have inductance/capacitance in your circuit. Pure inductances/capacitances have a 'reactance' (similar to resistance) to current, and can therefore be used for attenuating an AC signal as a kind of voltage divider....the difference being they do not disspate power, but only transfer it...in practice they do disspate power as heat, but that's only due to thier resistances.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    Streamsystems, go back up to the attic and behave yourself. That's a good girl.
    Man It looked from some other topics like the loopies had been eradicated...obviously not.
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  8. #7 Re: Electrical Potential Energy 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dark_Fire
    Hey guys.

    But can you have something that starts off with electrical?

    Just curious.


    I answered your question more correctly. You were in search of a pure energy source, not something held in place by capacitors. Indeed Capacitors hold electrical potential, but I was thinking something more in the line of magnetic bottles, toroidal magentic bottles holding electrical potential in the form of charged particles. The aim of nuclear physics research is to establish how to tap into naturally occuring electrical potential on the atomic scale. Nuclear science is driven by the promise of physicists that their research will eventually result in access to a more cost effective and readily avaialble energy source.

    (Harold, stream systems is quite a character).
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  9. #8  
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    As far as I know, a battery is not potential energy. The electricity is only stored through a certain method (filling up electron shells) in the chemical material. Chemical electric potential energy would be a chemical that does not have an excess of electrons, and instead agglutinates them from the surrounding matter due to its chemical reaction at the moment that it occurs.

    Same thing with capacitors, they aren't electrical potential energy either.

    Take a block on the ground for example. You put in so much work to get it to say 2m. By holding it in the air, you converted your work to kinetic potential energy, as in it has the potential to do work that is currently not being used. Then when you let go, that potential is converted to kinetic due to gravity.

    If you instead had it on the floor and just move it around from place to place, you would not give it potential energy. Electrons are like an elevated block being move around on the X-axis. Transferring electrons to different materials doesn't change what it is, it only changes how it is held.

    Though it does have magnetic, thermal, electromagnetic, etc... potential energy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Fusion
    As far as I know, a battery is not potential energy. ...

    Same thing with capacitors, they aren't electrical potential energy either.
    I beg to differ. Here is what the Wikipedia article on potential energy says
    Chemical potential energy is a form of potential energy related to the structural arrangement of atoms or molecules. This arrangement may be the result of chemical bonds within a molecule or otherwise.
    An object can also have potential energy by virtue of its electric charge and several forces related to their presence. There are three main kinds of this kind of potential energy; electrostatic potential energy, electrodynamic potential energy (also sometimes called magnetic potential energy), and nuclear potential energy.
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  11. #10 Re: Electrical Potential Energy 
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    Quote Originally Posted by theQuestIsNotOver
    I answered your question more correctly. You were in search of a pure energy source, not something held in place by capacitors.
    Stream, please don't try to confuse the kid. He or she is only 12 and is trying to learn some real science. Go back to the pseudoscience forum where you belong.
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    Harold, without upholding an identity-based argument, I'll retire.
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    And?

    "In case the electric charge of an object can be assumed to be at rest, it has potential energy due to its position relative to other charged objects."

    Yes, other charged objects, or objects that are relative to its potential. In thje case of capacitors, this could not apply.

    "The more formal definition is that potential energy is the energy of position, that is, the energy an object is considered to have due to its position in space."

    So? Not just blatant position in space, but position that LEADS to potential energy.

    Look at the types of electrical discussed-

    Electrostatic: That does not apply! If it were to, you would have to give electricity a kinetic value, which it doesn't have unless in ridiculously large quantities(lightning). When electrons charge a capacitor it is not because they are being forced in it like water into a container, it is because they can go there! The way it is designed, it acts like a sponge and absorbs it until it reaches its limit. It is natural, based on concentration gradients. If there is a void for which matter to fill, it will try to fill it! It is nature at work. And no, releasing electrons into a wire does not give it energy, nor did it have potential energy to do so, it just can so it does...besides thermal resistance, the wire give the electricity no reason not to go there.


    Electrodynamic: This is in relation to magnetic fields and does not pertain to batteries or capacitors...neither store energy through a magnetic field.

    Nuclear: This really does not have anything to do with electricity.
    Of all the wonders in the universe, none is likely more fascinating and complicated than human nature.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Fusion
    And?

    "In case the electric charge of an object can be assumed to be at rest, it has potential energy due to its position relative to other charged objects."

    Yes, other charged objects, or objects that are relative to its potential. In thje case of capacitors, this could not apply.
    Well the plates of a capacitor are charged objects, aren't they, and the charge is at rest isn't it? Capacitors store electrical energy because of that charge don't they?

    "The more formal definition is that potential energy is the energy of position, that is, the energy an object is considered to have due to its position in space."
    Electrostatic: That does not apply!
    Huh? There is an electrostatic field between the plates of the capacitor. That is exactly what they are referring to.
    Electrodynamic: This is in relation to magnetic fields and does not pertain to batteries or capacitors...neither store energy through a magnetic field.
    But an inductor does, like I said before.
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    "Well the plates of a capacitor are charged objects, aren't they, and the charge is at rest isn't it? Capacitors store electrical energy because of that charge don't they?"

    ......But it doesn't use that elevated state as a way to transfer energy of sorts. It may be a higher energy state, but unlike atoms whose electrons after they become exited, create a photon in order to compensate, do not use that stored power as a means to turn the electricity into a different form/ or alter its current characteristics.

    Does it rely on that field solely to store energy? I was under the impression that the plates were mainly used to store the electric charge. How could they use a magnetic field for large scale capacitors? Wouldn't the field need to be too large and cause some sort of interruption in the surrounding electronics? I can't see that method as being very efficient either...what allows all of the magnetic field to be re-modulated into electricity? [/quote]
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    In a capacitor, you have an electrical charge built up between the plates. There is an attraction between the electrons on the negative side and the positive charge on the other plate. These charges are kept apart by the dielectric material between the plates. Now when you connect the two plates across an electrical circuit a current will flow through your circuit and you can use that current to light a light, play a radio, or whatever your electrical circuit does. That is a transfer of energy.

    I will agree that the capacitor does not use a magnetic field. No one said it did.
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    I thought that you were implying that.

    I still hold my ground in that it is not potential.....just following what I learned in school/my logic.
    Of all the wonders in the universe, none is likely more fascinating and complicated than human nature.

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."

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    A battery stores energy as chemical potential energy. The chemical reactions are called electrochemical reactions. The reactions in a 'voltaic cell' are called reduction-oxidation (REDOX) reactions.

    Within the cell you have a mixture of chemical solutions, and two electrodes..one for the positive terminal, and one for the negative. The actual chemical reactions take place on the surfaces of the electrodes. At one terminal, a chemical (e.g. zinc) will be oxidised releasing a couple of electrons (anode), and at the other, another chemical (eg H+ ions) will be reduced (cathode) due to the addition of these electrons.

    The chemical reaction does not take place unless you connect a wire across the terminals of the battery. This is because electrons are unable to flow from one electode to the other, and maintain a REDOX reaction between the solutions.

    The battery has the potential to do work (Drive an electrical current), but only when it becomes a closed electrical circuit, does it actually do any work. Therefore the energy is 'chemical potential energy'. Think about it...a battery can sit on a shelf for years, and you can then connect it, and it still has power...because it still has potential energy.

    A capacitor stores energy as an electric field. This is based on basic electrostatic laws. when you connect a capacito to a fixed voltage source, charge will flow (current) from the positive terminal of the battery to the connected plate, and from the other plate to the negative terminal. it will flow until the voltage across the capacitor equals that of the Vsource. This is a kind of electrical equllibrium. If you now open the circuit, charge will remain on the plates of the capacitor. This is because you are effectively providing a path of VERY high resistance to current.

    The positive charge on one plate is attracted to the negative charge on the other plate (Basic electrostatics) by means of an electric field in the region of the dielectric. No charge can actually flow, because the dilectric is an insulator, and in fact it can aid the strength of the electric field too. When you connect the terminals of the capacitor together, the charge now has as path of low resistance, and flows round the circuit (current) until an equillibrium is reached.

    Niether of these have anything to do with magnetic fields (inductors do). So essentially capacitors do store energy as electrostatic potential.
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    I still wouldn't say that capacitors use potential energy as the main form of energy storage, which is what I thought this was about. It may use electrostatics to make it work and to allow for energy storage, but the electricity is not in a different from while in the capacitor. This could just be a definition disagreement.....lets just leave it at that.

    You got me on the battery, I didn't know that. But what about Lithium Ion batteries? I thought that they physically store electrons between "hex" grids on the surface of the lithium.
    Of all the wonders in the universe, none is likely more fascinating and complicated than human nature.

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    Capacitors do store enrgy as 'electrostatic potential energy'. Imagine you charged up a capacitor, disconnected it, and discharged it.

    When you charge it, work is being done (by the battery/ voltage source) to drive the current.

    When you connect the terminals together, a current flows (driven by the work being done on it by an electrostatic difference on the plates (voltage)).

    What about the state in between, where the capacitor is disconnected? One of the main ideas in physics is that energy must be conserved, and therefore when the inital energy has been put into it, it cannot just dissapear to nowhere. Similarly, when you discharge it, and current flows, this energy cannot just come from nowhere.

    The principle is exactly the same as lifting a weight. When you lift it, it has kinetic energy, and work is being done against gravity. When you drop it, it has kinetic energy due to gravity doing work on it. But this kinetic energy doesn't just come and go from nowhere, because energy can only be transferred. That is why there exists a type of energy called potential energy.

    And this isn't just limited to gravitational potential energy, but all sorts...any system which is in a state of having some potential to do some kind of work. The principle is exactly the same with a capacitor, but under a different name.

    Lithium ions work on the same basis as normal voltaic cells, electrochemical reactions. They have an electrolyte, and two electrodes. I'm not sure on the detyails of the chemical reaction, but it allows for them also to be charged....where electrical power is converted to chemical potential energy, and released again when needed. This is like electrolytic capacitors too.

    I'm not sure about the "hex grid" for lithium ion batteries either, maybe this is just some structure that helps catalyse the reaction somehow?
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    Fine...maybe a form of potential energy...but I still wouldn't consider it full potential energy.

    I was watching some science channel show that gave a visual representation of how a LI battery works; they showed electrons, like billard balls on a table with dimples in it, getting trapped by the hex grids; they never indicated a chemical reaction as the main source of energy.
    Of all the wonders in the universe, none is likely more fascinating and complicated than human nature.

    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe."

    "Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence"

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    Whats the difference between "potential enrgy", and "full potential energy"?

    Differnt types of potential energy are really the same thing. The only thing that differs is the nature of the work, that the system has a potential to do....which is why potential energy comes in different flavours...see the wikipedia article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potenti...tential_energy

    What science program were you watching about lithium ion batteries?

    I'm still not sure about this "hex grid" you talk of, but I suspect it may be referring to a hexagonal molecular structure of Carbon... Carbon would be used for an electrode, and nanotube-like 'microcavities' (therefore on a molecular scale) within the structure would hold reactions. As I said before this structure probably catalyses the reaction, or otherwise improves on the performance/reliability (even safety) of the batteries.

    I don't think it has anything to do with any key principles of the battery. They still work on the principle of electrochemicstry:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium...ectrochemistry

    This is a good link too:

    http://electronics.howstuffworks.com....htm/printable
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    I meant that it uses potential energy to make it work, but is not the sole determiner of the exact method of electrical retention. Yes, it allows for it to do work...but only because it is taking advantage of certain laws in order to defy any innate deficiencies with the capacitors design. When you hold an object in the air...you have the force of gravity (In a vacuum) and the potential energy that you created by elevating it. By using your energy to elevate it, you are solely converting your work into pure potential energy, that can only be used to make it fall. You are not modifying any parameters or anything, or changing how gravity effects it; neither are you making any effect more or less potent...it is a pure 1:1 conversion. Capacitors on the other hand....you are not converting the electricity to a different form like you do in a battery; it is actually stored as electrons. What it does however, is that it takes advantage(Not trying to be condescending. I know you are the one who said this first, so I am only reiterating it) of the electrostatic force to create the current flow in order to balance it out and obtain an equilibrium. THIS it using the electricity, the potential to do work, to modify parameters in order to make its described function that WE gave it, to make it useful. We are taking advantage of the side effect of the electrons being there in higher quantities than normal, in order to incite desired effects; this is however not a thing created by nature as a whole, we made the capacitor to combine useful laws for a purpose, it is not by the means of nature itself that it functions like that in harmony. Although, if nature, like how it made life (evolution), made a capacitor with all of its described functions already in place...then I might call it potential energy, but since we made it, it is not real potential. Nature allowed for the conversion of height to velocity, it did not put together and knowingly allow for what we do with capacitors. I don't like to call our self manipulations of nature as nature itself.

    Also, would you consider magnetic fields work? Isn't work defined by the conversion of one energy to another/point? That would mean that the original source would loose its energy to its purpose.....are you saying that the magnetic field is depleted in its electrostatic process to another point? Energy cannot be created or destroyed, and neither can work.
    Of all the wonders in the universe, none is likely more fascinating and complicated than human nature.

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    Although, if nature, like how it made life (evolution), made a capacitor with all of its described functions already in place...then I might call it potential energy, but since we made it, it is not real potential. Nature allowed for the conversion of height to velocity, it did not put together and knowingly allow for what we do with capacitors. I don't like to call our self manipulations of nature as nature itself.
    When we invented the capacitor, we did not create new laws of physics (this is impossible)...the laws were already there in nature....we simply manipulated them into something useful. Just because the component is synthetic, it doesn't make any of its physical laws any less real....it exists in the same universe we do. There is an obvious example of this in nature anyway... lightning, where static electricity builds up on moving clouds, until the potential energy becomes enough (and/or resistance of the air becomes low enough) for the charge to flow to ground, causing a flash and a bang.

    The evidence for this is all around you....Engineering is solely based on science...we use the same physical laws that you do.

    Also, would you consider magnetic fields work? Isn't work defined by the conversion of one energy to another/point? That would mean that the original source would loose its energy to its purpose.....are you saying that the magnetic field is depleted in its electrostatic process to another point? Energy cannot be created or destroyed, and neither can work.
    Magnetic fields aren't work... They can perform work on some object though....same as electric fields: Work = Force*distance, and is numerically equal to energy in Joules. The first laws of thermodynamics states that the increase in internal energy of a system is equal to the energy put into it minus the work done by that system on its surroundings....given by U=Q-W....in other words the enrgy of the system we are talking about is conserved, and that includes it's internal energy, and the work done by it...indeed, neither can be created nor destroyed...no-one said it could.

    Also, magnetic fields are irrelevant to the capacitor system, as we've said before, but in general a magnetic field does have it's own energy. In an inductor, you can see how this field can collapse VERY quickly, producing a large EMF in the coil, which can be dangerous for obvious reasons.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Fusion
    Although, if nature, like how it made life (evolution), made a capacitor with all of its described functions already in place...then I might call it potential energy, but since we made it, it is not real potential.
    This is like saying if you hold your object in the air, it has gravitational potential energy, but if you put it on a shelf, it doesn't, because the shelf is man-made. Well, that's all a capacitor is, a storage "shelf" for the electrons.

    Now, don't go inventing your own definitions of scientific terms. Words, especially in physics, have exact definitions that everybody has to use the same way. Nowhere in any physics book will you find a definition of potential energy that is different for natural or man-made.
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    I wasn't trying to invent terms, I was only exploring the usages of them.

    A lighting cloud....that is like a capacitor! The energy is still in the same form, but gains potential to go somewhere by building up power.

    Its potential work, but not energy. For it to be potential energy, some type of energy conversion has to be done.

    Yet still, I would like to call it partial potential energy since it is imposing a will on itself to send energy to the other plate.
    Of all the wonders in the universe, none is likely more fascinating and complicated than human nature.

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    "Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence"

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    Yes, the way in which lightning works is similar to a capacitor. The accumulation of charge in this case however is due to the kinetic energy of the clouds rubbing together, as opposed to the collective kinetic energy of charge in an electrical current (which in turn is due to some electrostatic potential from the voltage source).

    I think you have your definitions of energy all wrong. The energy definately changes form in the system from electrical energy into electrostatic potential energy and back to electrical energy (When it is discharged). Potential energy is irrevelivant to the exact type of system we are talking about, as I said before it can apply to many different things...hence the link to the wiki article showing you examples. So long as there is energy 'locked up' in the system in some form, then it has potential energy. It doesn,t matter what is preventing the energy from being released, whether that be gravitaional or electrostatic.

    Energy is a very generalised concept, and applies to many physical phenomenon.
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    Occasionally individuals need to refine the terms that the science community refuses to alter.

    There need to be different types of potential energy-they are too different to be classified under the same name. Maybe for the general publics use you could only use potential energy, but I should think that physicists would demand higher precision.

    Neither of us are right or wrong; this is only a disagreement. Just let it go for now...I doubt an exact solution to this will be required for interpretation of future posts.
    Of all the wonders in the universe, none is likely more fascinating and complicated than human nature.

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    "Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Fusion
    Occasionally individuals need to refine the terms that the science community refuses to alter.
    Actually, unfortunately they need to be able to learn (and accurately use) the set of terms that the scientific community provided them with, in order to have a universal language to communicate with. There is no sense in changing universal terms for the sake of an individual who refuses to accept thier usage, and use terms of his own.

    There need to be different types of potential energy-they are too different to be classified under the same name. Maybe for the general publics use you could only use potential energy, but I should think that physicists would demand higher precision.
    Physicists DO demand higher precision, and they DO classify different 'types' of potential energy by different terms...as I've repeated a few times... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potenti...tential_energy
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  30. #29  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370
    A capacitor will hold a charge for a while. An inductor also stores energy in the magnetic field but current flow cause it to dissipate pretty fast, unless it is a superconductor. Check this out.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superco...energy_storage
    Thanks allot for this. :P

    Very interesting
    Need help with homework?
    http://www.homeworkhelp.co.za/forum
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