Prime movers and various sources of energy


This article provides the basic information about the various types of prime movers which are used to produce the mechanical power in our day to day life. It also includes the different sources of energy used by prime movers.

Basics of prime mover


In earlier days when there were no technological advancement or no inventions in the field of development of the mechanical machines,human being had to depend on his own physical strength and on animal for various works to carry out. But Now with the development of engines and many energy sources to produce power from the engines,it became possible to meet different needs in our day to day life and working.

Definition of prime mover:


"Prime mover is device,which use the energy from natural sources and convert it into the mechanical energy."

Various sources of energy used by prime movers:


Prime movers use the different sources of energy.The various sources are as follow:
  • Burning of fuels:
  • This is a most important source of energy.When any fuel is burnt,it releases the heat energy.The energy given out by fuel depends on the type of the fuel burnt.Different fuels have different calorific values and based on that heat is liberated by fuel.Then this heat energy is converted into the mechanical energy.
  • River water:
  • It is another useful and widely used source of energy.Water flowing from certain height contains the potential energy.This potential energy is converted into kinetic energy when it reaches to the prime mover.here prime mover is hydraulic turbine through which power is generated.The another use of river water is to produce steam in a boiler.Again this steam is used in steam turbines and steam engines to produce the mechanical power.
  • Atoms:
  • Now a days with recent development atoms are used as a good and rich source of energy.Heat energy is produced by fission or fusion of atoms.This heat energy is converted into mechanical work by engines.
  • Wind Energy:
  • This source of energy is widely used now a days because it is available freely everywhere. It is a renewable source of energy.
  • Solar energy:
  • The source of energy is also freely available so it is trapped to make its proper use to generate power .It is also falling in the category of renewable source of energy.

    Types of prime movers:


    The prime movers are classified based on the sources of energy utilized by them.The classification is shown below:

    1)Thermal prime movers: These are the prime movers which use the thermal energy of source to generate power. Various thermal prime movers are given below:

  • Fuels (heat engines):
  • These prime movers use various fuels like petrol, diesel, oil, gas to generate mechanical power.
  • Heat engines are two types:

  • -External combustion engines:
    1)Reciprocating steam engines
    2)Steam turbine
    3)Closed cycle gas turbine
    -Internal combustion engines:
    1)Reciprocating I.C. engines
    2)Open cycle gas turbine

  • Nuclear(nuclear power plant):
  • This prime mover uses the heat energy of atoms by fission or fusion process to develop the mechanical power. It is mainly used in nuclea power plants. Various radioactive elements like uranium, thorium are used for these fission or fusion process in a nuclear reactor.
  • Geothermal:
  • In this type of prime mover the heat energy is obtained from a certain depth or the hot part of the earth below earth surface then it is converted into mechanical by proper engine.
  • Bio gas:
  • Bio gas is mainly produced from a garbage or any other waste which is used to produce power by prime mover in a biogas plant.
  • Solar energy:
  • The solar energy come to the earth in the form of radiation or electromagnetic waves. This energy trapped in with the help of solar panel made up of semiconductor material. This heat energy is then converted into power.

    2)Non-thermal prime movers: These kind of prime movers does not use the heat energy to convert it into the mechanical power. The following are the non thermal prime movers:

  • Hydraulic turbines:
  • This type of the prime mover uses the stored potential energy of water to generate power.
  • Wind power:
  • With the help of wind turbine the wind energy is converted into the power.
  • Tidal power:
  • The energy of tides from ocean is converted into the power by the use of turbnine which is known as tidal power.


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