In a loose sense, thermal energy is a term used to describe the energy content of a system related to heating effects, e.g. temperature increase or decrease.


In thermodynamics, thermal energy is the internal energy present in a system in a state of thermodynamic equilibrium by virtue of its temperature.


The term is not widely used, however, in a rigorous sense, owing to the result that the phrase "thermal (heat) energy" is counter-intuitive. That is, "thermal energy" can only be defined as any spontaneous flow of energy (energy in transit) from one object to another, caused by a difference in temperature between two objects; thus, an object cannot possess "heat". This is explained by the second law of thermodynamics. Hence, by extrapolation, it is difficult to define quantities of heat energy (thermal energy).

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors). Smallwikipedialogo.png
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.