Prime Movers | How Are Prime Movers Classified? | 10 Explanation On Why Prime Movers Is So Important.

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Prime Movers and Different Forms of Energy Resources

This article provides the fundamental details of the different types of prime movers used to produce mechanical energy in our daily lives. The different energy sources used by primary movers are also included.

Introduction to Prime mover

In the early stages when no technological progress or inventions existed in the field of mechanical machinery development, humans must depend on their physical strength and animal in order to perform various works. Now it has been possible to satisfy various needs in daily life and work with the development of engines and a number of energy sources for generating power from the engines.


Prime mover definition:

‘Prime mover is a device that uses and converts the energy from natural sources into mechanical energy.’

Different energy sources used by prime movers:

Prime movers use the various energy sources. The following are the different sources:

Fuel burning:

This is a key energy source. It releases the heat energy if any fuel is consumed. The fuel energy is dependent on the fuel type being burned. Various fuels have different calorification values and are released by fuel on the basis of the heat. This heat energy is then transformed into mechanical energy.

Water from the River stream lines/ Ponds / Lakes:

Another useful and widespread energy source. The latent energy is present in water falling from a certain height. When it reaches the primary mover, this potential energy is translated into kinetic energy. The primary mover used here is the power-generating hydraulic turbine. The other use is to produce steam (i.e. Thermal power plant) in a boiler with streaming of water. Again the steam is used to produce mechanical power in steam turbines and steam engines.


In the recent years, atoms have been used as a rich fuel, and a good source of energy for the energy development. Heat energy is generated through atomic fission or fusion. The heat energy is transformed by turbochargers into mechanical work.

Wind Energy:

In recent days, this power source is commonly used, since it is easily available everywhere. It is a type of electricity produced as a green energy.

Solar energy:

The source of energy supply is free too, provided that it is captured and used properly to produce electricity. It is often classified as a clean green energy source.

Types of Prime mover:

Prime movers are categorised according to the energy sources used. The following is the classification:

1)Thermal prime movers:

These are the primary movers that produce power using thermal energy from the source. The following are given some thermal primary movers:

Heat engines:

These engines are used to produce mechanical power from different fuels such as petrol, gasoline, oil, coal etc.

Heat engines are two types:

-External combustion engines:

1) Reciprocating steam engines
2) Steam turbine
3) closed cycle gas turbine
01 turbine generator steam turbines steam generators Mechanical Engineering Prime Movers

-Internal combustion engines:

1) Reciprocating I.C. engines
2) Open cycle gas turbine
01 internal reciprocating internal combustion engines Mechanical Engineering Prime Movers


This prime mover uses fission or fusion technology of the atoms to produce mechanical energy from the thermal energy. It is found mostly in nuclear plants. For this fission or the fusion process in a nuclear reactor, some radioactive elements such as uranium, thorium have been used.


Heat energy is derived from certain depth of this kind of prime mover or the hot portion of the earth below the earth’s surface and then transformed into a mechanical power by the required engine.

01 thermal prime movers geothermal energy Mechanical Engineering Prime Movers

Bio gas:

Biogas is primarily produced from garbage waste or any other waste used in a biomass plant to produce electricity through prime movers.

01 thermal prime movers biogas energy Mechanical Engineering Prime Movers

Solar energy:

Solar energy in the form of radiation or electromagnetic waves comes to the world. Using solar panels made of semiconductor material, this energy was trapped. This heat energy then becomes electricity.

2) Non-thermal prime movers:

Such primary movers don’t use the heat energy for mechanical power. The non-thermal primary movers are as follows:

Hydraulic turbines:

This type of primary mover uses stored water power to generate electricity.

01 non thermal prime movers hydraulic turbines Mechanical Engineering Prime Movers

Wind power:

Wind energy is converted into power by means of a wind turbine.

01 non thermal prime movers wind turbines Mechanical Engineering Prime Movers

Tidal power:

The energy from the ocean tides is transformed to power by a tidal power turbine.

01 non thermal prime movers tidel power Mechanical Engineering Prime Movers

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