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Conservation of Energy in Electrical Circuits

conservation-of-energy-circuitsKirchhoff’s voltage law (KVL)

The law of conservation of energy can also be used in the analysis of electrical circuits. In the analysis of electrical circuits, the principle of energy conservation provides the basis for the law, known as Kirchhoff’s voltage law (or Kirchhoff’s second law), after German physicist Gustav Robert Kirchhoff.

Kirchhoff’s voltage law states:

The algebraic sum of the voltages (drops or rises) encountered in traversing any circuit loop in a specified direction must be zero.

The algebraic sum of the voltages (drops or rises) encountered in traversing any circuit loop in a specified direction must be zero.


kirchhoffs-voltage-law-energy-conservationThe voltage changes around any closed loop must sum to zero. The sum of the voltage rises is equal to the sum of the voltage drops in a loop. No matter what path you take through an electric circuit, if you return to your starting point, you must measure the same voltage, constraining the net change around the loop to be zero.

Since voltage is electric potential energy per unit charge, the voltage law can be seen to be a consequence of the conservation of energy. This rule is equivalent to saying that each point on a mountain has only one elevation above sea level. If you start from any point and return to it after walking around the mountain, the algebraic sum of the elevation changes that you encounter must be zero.

The voltage law has great practical utility in the analysis of electric circuits. It is used in conjunction with the current law in many circuit analysis tasks.

Nuclear and Reactor Physics:
  1. J. R. Lamarsh, Introduction to Nuclear Reactor Theory, 2nd ed., Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA (1983).
  2. J. R. Lamarsh, A. J. Baratta, Introduction to Nuclear Engineering, 3d ed., Prentice-Hall, 2001, ISBN: 0-201-82498-1.
  3. W. M. Stacey, Nuclear Reactor Physics, John Wiley & Sons, 2001, ISBN: 0- 471-39127-1.
  4. Glasstone, Sesonske. Nuclear Reactor Engineering: Reactor Systems Engineering, Springer; 4th edition, 1994, ISBN: 978-0412985317
  5. W.S.C. Williams. Nuclear and Particle Physics. Clarendon Press; 1 edition, 1991, ISBN: 978-0198520467
  6. Kenneth S. Krane. Introductory Nuclear Physics, 3rd Edition, Wiley, 1987, ISBN: 978-0471805533
  7. G.R.Keepin. Physics of Nuclear Kinetics. Addison-Wesley Pub. Co; 1st edition, 1965
  8. Robert Reed Burn, Introduction to Nuclear Reactor Operation, 1988.
  9. U.S. Department of Energy, Nuclear Physics and Reactor Theory. DOE Fundamentals Handbook, Volume 1 and 2. January 1993.

Advanced Reactor Physics:

  1. K. O. Ott, W. A. Bezella, Introductory Nuclear Reactor Statics, American Nuclear Society, Revised edition (1989), 1989, ISBN: 0-894-48033-2.
  2. K. O. Ott, R. J. Neuhold, Introductory Nuclear Reactor Dynamics, American Nuclear Society, 1985, ISBN: 0-894-48029-4.
  3. D. L. Hetrick, Dynamics of Nuclear Reactors, American Nuclear Society, 1993, ISBN: 0-894-48453-2. 
  4. E. E. Lewis, W. F. Miller, Computational Methods of Neutron Transport, American Nuclear Society, 1993, ISBN: 0-894-48452-4.

See above:

Conservation of Energy