The movement of atoms within a substance generates thermal energy. Basically, this is the form of energy that comes as a result of heat. As atoms in an object move faster, temperature rises. As a result, thermal energy is generated. This type of energy can be converted to mechanical forms.
Thermal energy can be transferred from one object to another. In such a case, the energy is known as heat.
For thermal energy to be converted into any mechanical form, an engine is required. The engine plays the role of an energy conversion medium.
A cooler substance can reduce thermal energy. When ice is placed on a hot object, thermal energy is transferred to the ice and a cooling effect is achieved.
Thermal energy can only be transferred through conduction, convection and radiation. Conduction is the transfer of thermal energy through solid materials. Convection happens when thermal energy is transferred through liquids. Radiation involves the transfer of thermal energy through gaseous means.
Thermal energy cannot be transferred through insulators. Examples of insulators are plastic and wood.
Joule is the official unit used in measuring thermal energy. The name is attributed to James Joule, the first person to discover heat loss and gain.