Physics and Turbines


A turbine is a device that rotates from the energy of a flowing fluid. Through this rotation, the turbine turns this energy into useful. The fluids used for turbine rotation are water, steam or even wind. The fluid being used possesses potential energy, as well as kinetic energy. The fluid that is being used may be either compressible or incompressible. This does not affect its functioning. Then, this energy is collected by the use of several physical principles. This produces electricity for use in different sectors and in different countries.

Relation of Turbines to Physics

The first application of physics is seen at the start of the collection of energy from the fluid that is rich in kinetic energy. The application of impulse energy comes in here. Impulse can also be referred to as the change in momentum. The concept of impulse is applied in the impulse turbines. The first change the direction of the moving fluid. Therefore, the fluid looses its pressure, as well as the kinetic energy. As a result of this change in momentum, there is an impulse force that causes the turbines to rotate. Therefore, when the fluid has much pressure, the impulsive force causes the turbines to rotate fast. However, when the fluid has little pressure, the turbines rotate slowly. This causes the production of electricity to go down (Heck 2008). This can be verified by today’s occurrences. In some countries that depend on hydro-electricity, there are constant power breakdowns from time to time. This mainly happens in times of drought because when there is drought, the pressure of water that should be used in turning the turbines goes down. Therefore, the impulse force that should be used to turn the turbines decreases considerably. This verifies the use of impulse in operation of the turbines which is a physical concept.

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The transfer of energy from impulse turbines also uses another law in physics. This law is called the second law of Newton. The law states that “the rate of change in momentum is directly proportional to the net external force causing the change and takes place in the direction of the force”. Therefore, the rate of change in momentum of the turbines depends on the force of the fluid. The force comes from the pressure that the liquid possesses. According to physics, pressure and the area of action of the pressure are responsible for the magnitude of the force. When the pressure is high and the surface area is large, the force produced by the turbines becomes higher. The vice versa is true. This is the reason why the turbines are extremely large. It ensures the maximum utilization of the fluid pressure (Bethell, 1999).

Apart from the impulse turbines, there are reaction turbines. These use the pressure of the fluid to develop torque. In physics, torque refers to the rotational equivalent of force in linear motion. It is calculated by getting the product of the moment of inertia (Rotational mass) and the circular acceleration. As the fluid goes through the turbine, it changes in pressure. As a result of this, the turbine acquires the torque. This can be explained by Newton’s third law of motion (Schobeiri,2012).The law states, “when a body ‘A’ exerts a force on another body “B”, body “B” exerts an equal and opposite force on “A”. Therefore, the loss of pressure in the fluids determines the magnitude of the torque that is gained. This is another physical law that is applied in these turbines. It is applicable for wind, water or steam turbines. Therefore, it is a clear verification of the relationship between physics and the turbines. The third law of Newton is directly applied in the process. This is also pure physics and could have only been successful by the application of physics.

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When the electricity is being produced, the people involved have to determine the amount of electricity produced. This is achieved through physical calculation. Each mode of electricity production has a way of calculating the amount of electricity produced. To start with, calculations on the energy produced are done. After these calculations have been done, the calculation of power can now be done. This is how the electricity producing institutions decide and tell about the power that is being produced or generated. This shows that physics is also crucial in the calculation of the electricity produced by the turbines. Whenever electricity shortages occur, the electricity-producing countries alert the users before the time comes. This ensures that there is preparedness by all users of the resource. This could not be achievable without the calculation of the power (McPherson,2010).The experts gauge the pressure of the fluid in use. After this, they calculate the amount of electricity likely to be produced gauging from the available pressure of the fluid. This mainly applies in the wind and water turbines although all the other turbines can still use it. What vary are the variables used in the calculation. Otherwise, the concept is the same.

The other physical principle that is used in these turbines is the Bernoulli’s principle. This is the principle that describes the relationship between pressure and velocity. The law states that the higher the velocity of a fluid, the less is the pressure in the area. This is mainly used in the creation of pressure. As mentioned earlier, the amount of pressure of a fluid determines the amount of electricity that will be produced. Therefore, there is a need to increase the pressure of the fluid so as to increase the electricity production. Here, the experts make use of the Bernoulli’s principle. They channel the fluid into a column. The first parts of the column that the fluid occupies have a smaller volume than the adjacent column. This results to a decrease in velocity. According to the principle, the velocity of the fluid is indirectly proportional to the pressure of the same. Therefore, the pressure of the fluid increases before reaching the blades of the turbines. This directly leads to the increase in the velocity of rotation of the turbines which, in turn, increases the amount of electricity produced. Therefore, this is another principle that is vital in the operation of the turbines and their ability to achieve the desired results. Therefore, physics can be said to play a vital role in the maximization of energy, as well as power, produced by the rotating turbines. Apart from producing electricity, physics also helps in ensuring that large amounts of electricity are harvested from the power plants.

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On another note, turbines consist of a number of movable parts. These parts are all flexible to ensure the smooth rotation of the turbines. All movables apply rules of physics. For example, the rotors have to rotate to ensure that the energy of the moving fluid is well collected. These rotations require physics to make sure that they are occurring in the required manner. Therefore, this proves the importance of physics even in the manufacture of the turbines. The other physical features of the turbines that used physical knowledge are the blades (Hau, 2005). These are the parts that are used in stopping or changing the direction of the fluid. They receive the reaction force which occurs in a circular motion. The experts design them in a way to trap the energy best. The use of large surface blades ensures that the amount of electricity produced is high. Therefore, the manufacturers emphasize on the size of blades, as well as their number. Therefore, the turbines, which have more and larger blades, harvest more energy as compared to those that have smaller and fewer blades. The knowledge of this mainly requires physics. Therefore, physics also helps in the enhancement of the turbines in the various manufacturing firms. This shows that the absence of physical know-how has the potential to ensure that no energy is produced through the use of turbines.

Lastly, the production of energy by the use of turbines uses the principle of conservation of energy. This is the principle that states that energy cannot be lost but just transformed from one form to another. This principle is used in the collection of energy from the fluids. The fluids may be containing potential or kinetic energy. This energy is harnessed by the guidance of this principle. When the pressure of the fluid has been taken away, the energy is not lost. It has to be used in doing some other work. This is the rotating of the turbines. Therefore, this kinetic or potential energy of the fluid is converted into mechanical energy as the turbines rotate. These turbines rotate more and more as the liquid pressure keeps increasing. This mechanical energy is converted to electrical energy. This is the form of energy that is most useful to people. Therefore, the conversion of energy from one form to another is used to produce a useful necessity in the lives of humans (Hansen, 2008). This process of energy conversions acknowledges the fact that energy cannot be lost or created. The only thing that can happen to energy is the conversion from one form to another. This is the guidance that the experts use in the production of energy using turbines.

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From the essay above, it is clear that the method of using turbines in the production of energy is a bit more complicated than it may seem to some people. Reaction and impulse concepts are the main ones that are used in these turbines. These concepts are purely physical. Therefore, it is right to say that the operation of the turbines depends on physics. It involves a series of steps, procedures and concepts for its success. All the concepts and laws used have been mentioned. They have all been proven physical. Therefore, the relation between the turbines and physics cannot be denied.

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