How Everything Works
How Everything Works How Everything Works

Question 1235

Does a moving magnet use up its energy when it generates electricity? Does this mean that the term "permanent magnet" is a misnomer because its magnetism can be used up? — MT, San Antonio, TX
When a moving magnet generates electricity, it does transfer energy to the electric current. However, that energy comes from either the magnet's kinetic energy (its energy of motion) or from whatever is pushing the magnet forward. The magnet's magnetism is basically unchanged by this process.

Nonetheless, a large permanent magnet isn't really permanent. The random fluctuations of thermal energy and the influences of passing magnetic fields gradually demagnetize large permanent magnets. However, good permanent magnets demagnetize so slowly that the changes are completely undetectable. You might have to wait a billion years to detect any significant weakening in the magnetic field around such a magnet.


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