The thermal energy, or temperature, of solid water does not change as it melts into liquid water. Instead, all the thermal energy absorbed from its environment is converted into potential energy through the breaking of the rigid hydrogen bonds in water ice. The thermal energy of boiling water, as well as condensing or freezing water, also remains constant as all transferred thermal energy goes from or to potential energy.
Pure materials in general do not change into thermal energy during phase changes. However, it holds true only with pure compounds or elemental substances. Solutions such as salt water do change into thermal energy as they undergo phase changes, both because of the different thermal properties of the dissolved particles and the changes in their concentration. For instance, salt water boils at a higher temperature than fresh water, and as it boils, the concentration of salt increases, raising the boiling temperature further.
The ability of substances to absorb heat as potential energy rather than increasing in temperature is useful for situations where insulation or other temperature control is needed, according to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. In certain advanced structural walls, for instance, tiny cells of paraffin begin to melt in hot temperatures. This reduces and slows down the transmission of heat because while it melts, the wall does not increase in temperature.Learn More
Thermal energy is the movement of particles within matter and is found in the sun, magma, heated water and even the human body. Heat represents the transfer of thermal energy between matter.Full Answer >
Brightstorm explains that thermal energy transfer involves the internal transfer of energy, of which there are three major types: conduction, radiation and convection. When there is a temperature difference between the involved systems, heat transfers from the hotter system to the cooler system, which is why hot drinks become cold.Full Answer >
Solar thermal panels harness energy from the sun to energize homes and commercial buildings, according to Solar Systems USA. How Stuff Works mentions that geothermal energy is created by tapping into hot water or steam under the Earth to generate heat.Full Answer >
Thermal energy is used primarily for heating and cooling buildings and for certain industrial processes. Wood and pellet stoves are commonly used to heat homes. Certain factories can use thermal energy to create steam to run their production sites. This is known as biomass thermal energy.Full Answer >