Definition of Energy transfer
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In the physical sciences, an energy transfer or 'energy exchange' from one system to another is said to occur when an amount of energy crosses the boundary between them, thus increasing the energy content of one system while decreasing the energy content of the other system by the same amount. The transfer is characterised by the quantity of energy transferred, which can be specified in energy units such as the joule (J), in combination with the direction of the transfer, which can be specified as in (to) or out of (from) one system or the other. The transfer occurs in a process which changes the state of each system. Thermodynamics recognises three categories (mechanisms or modes) of such transfers:
- Heat[ing], which can occur via conduction, thermal electromagnetic radiation, and other mechanisms
- Work (thermodynamics), for example, electric power transmission is a (non-mechanical) thermodynamic work process that can transfer energy from a power generation station to your home, where a pump can use it to perform mechanical work on water to lift it out of your basement.
- Mass transfer, processes in which material moves from one system to the other, carrying its energy with it
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