Forms of Energy: From Electric to Nuclear
We need energy to power our vehicles, our homes, and even our bodies. It enables us to do various forms of work, and it is vital for sustaining our technological society. Energy comes in many different forms and is generated in many different ways. Understanding these forms is key to knowing how energy works and can be generated for future use.
Kinetic energy is related to the motion of an object. Simply put, it is the amount of energy that is necessary to take an object from being at rest to a stated measurement of velocity. Every movement that you see occurs as a result of kinetic energy. Even your typing on your computer keyboard is a manifestation of kinetic energy.
- Kinetic Energy and Calculating it: This useful overview page explains kinetic energy and how we should calculate it.
- Kinetic Energy Taken in: Here, readers can find out how energy is transferred from one object to another and how that relates to kinetic energy.
- The Story of Energy: This video is a basic overview of both kinetic and potential energy.
- What Is Kinetic Energy? Learn all about kinetic energy with the help of this resource page from Khan Academy.
Potential energy refers to the energy that an object stores at a given position. Potential energy can be measured as gravitational potential energy, or the energy an item stores when suspended in the air. It can also possess elastic potential energy, which results from stretching an item to a position and holding it. When movement begins, potential energy is transmitted into kinetic energy.
- Converting Potential Energy to Kinetic Energy: This interactive computer exercise is a great way to illustrate how potential energy is converted to kinetic energy.
- Mostly About Potential Energy: Here is an advanced page all about potential energy.
- Roller-Coaster Potential Energy Webquest (PDF): Click on this link to find a fun way to explain potential and kinetic energy.
- What Is Potential Energy? This resource developed by high school students is a great introduction to potential energy.
Heat is also known as thermal energy. The heat comes from the movement of particles within the heated object. When a heated object is placed against a cooler item, this thermal energy is transferred and warms the cooler object to a higher temperature. Fire is a common generator of thermal energy, but chemical reactions can create thermal energy as well.
- Beat the Heat! NASA has developed this resource page to help explain thermal energy and how it is transferred.
- Science Games: Heat Transfer: From Science Games for Kids, this game helps to demonstrate heat transfer.
- Thermal Energy Jeopardy: Review thermal energy concepts with this activity based on the popular game show Jeopardy!
- What Is Thermal Energy? Here is a great overview page on the basics of thermal, or heat, energy.
Chemical energy is released during reactions when chemical bonds change. As atoms move from one bond to another, energy is released. Chemical reactions can produce thermal energy, electrical energy, and other forms of energy. In many cases, chemical energy is explosive: Combine certain chemicals and you may end up with an explosion.
- Kinds of Energy: Chemical Energy: Learn the basics about chemical energy on this useful resource page.
- Q&A: Chemical Energy: On this page from the University of Illinois, several questions about chemical energy are answered and examples of chemical energy experiments are given.
- Reaction Action: This fun game will help players understand how chemical energy works.
Electrical energy is absorbed and transmitted by electrical circuits. A circuit must be complete for the electrical energy to pass through it and accomplish a prescribed job. Electrical energy results from the flow of an electric charge and produces electricity. Such electricity can be used to power a wide variety of machines and other things.
- Blobz Guide to Electrical Circuits: Learn about how electrical energy passes through a circuit on this fun page.
- Electric Generation and Transmission: This page describes some of the basics related to electrical energy transmission and generation.
- How Is Electrical Energy Measured? Read all about the measurement of electrical energy on this site.
Electrochemical energy is the application of chemistry to generate electrical energy. Various chemical reactions in such things as batteries are examples of electrochemical energy generation, for electricity is created by the reactions. Today, electrochemical energy is an important field of study. Creating better batteries and other storage and transmission means of energy will be important for creating a more sustainable world.
- A Basic Overview of Fuel Cell Technology: As the title indicates, this page is an introduction to fuel cells and how they produce electrochemical energy.
- Electrochemical Energy Storage Systems: This page is a good resource on all manner of storage means for electrochemical energy.
- How Does a Battery Work? Find out about batteries, common generators of electrochemical energy, on this page from MIT.
Solar energy is the energy generated by the sun. It is accessed through a variety of means, such as photovoltaic cells that convert solar rays into electricity. Solar energy is also used to produce heat in such things as solar water heaters. It is a potentially unlimited source of energy, and our ability to access and use it increases every year.
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Solar Power: A variety of advantages and disadvantages for solar power can be found on this page.
- The Need for Solar Energy: This webquest demonstrates why it is so vital for us to develop ways to harness solar energy.
- What Is Solar Energy? (PDF): Several pages of informative details about solar energy can be found here.
Sound energy is produced by the vibrations of various forms of matter. It is then transmitted through sound waves that can travel through media including water and air. Today, many researchers are coming up with creative ways of harnessing sound energy. In many cases, sound energy principles are actually applied to reduce noise levels by creating materials that will absorb sound waves.
- Ear-Piercing Sounds Harvested for Energy: Yes, sound can be used to generate energy, and this article gives examples of how this can be done.
- How Is Sound Energy Used in This World? Here is an article that provides several examples of how sound energy is used.
- Sound Energy: This basic guide provides an excellent overview of sound energy.
Nuclear energy is generated by splitting or fusing the nuclei of atoms. The former, nuclear fission, is the most common way nuclear energy is generated. The latter, nuclear fusion, has proved much harder for people to do. Producing nuclear energy creates radioactive waste, which must be properly stored to keep from polluting the planet.
- How Nuclear Power Works: Here is an informative article related to nuclear power.
- Nuclear Power Plant Simulator: Use this fun simulator game to generate power without causing a meltdown in a local town.
- What Is Nuclear Energy? Find out what nuclear energy is and how it can be generated on this page.