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Efficient energy conversion

  1. Mar 31, 2008 #1

    I was wondeing if anyone could help me out here. What form of energy can most efficiently be converted to electrical energy (by current means)?

  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 31, 2008 #2

    Andy Resnick

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    Science Advisor
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    I'd have to look around for more detail, but the efficiency of a gas turbine is around 50%. I think a nuclear reactor and coal plant are both around 30%. Hydrothermal is 50%, maybe? Wind is tough to gauge due to intermittency, solar is likewise, but commercial photovoltaics are 10%, IIRC.

    Edit- you probably want to ask the engineers.
  4. Mar 31, 2008 #3


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    Staff: Mentor

    Those numbers sound reasonable, but maybe the OP is looking for types of energy, ie mechanical, chemical, thermal, radiant, etc. A normal heat engine based power plant converts chemical (or nuclear) to thermal to mechanical to electrical. A solar cell, radiant directly to electrical. But less efficiently than a heat engine based power plant.
  5. Mar 31, 2008 #4
    Chemical energy should have the highest efficiency. Ex. fuel cells.
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