Energy transformation or energy conversion is the process of changing one form of energy to another. In physics, the term energy describes the capacity to produce certain changes within a system, without regard to limitations in transformation imposed by entropy. Changes in total energy of systems can only be accomplished by adding or subtracting energy from them, as energy is a quantity which is conserved, according to the first law of thermodynamics. According to special relativity, changes in the energy of systems will also coincide with changes in the system’s mass, and the total amount of mass of a system is a measure of its energy.

Energy in a system may be transformed so that it resides in a different state, or different type of energy. Energy in many states may be used to do many varieties of physical work. Energy may be used in natural processes or machines, or else to provide some service to society (such as heat, light, or motion). For example, an internal combustion engine converts the potential chemical energy in gasoline and oxygen into heat, which is then transformed into the propulsive energy (kinetic energy that moves a vehicle). A solar cell converts solar radiation into electrical energy that can then be used to light a bulb or power a computer.


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