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Thursday, April 8, 2010

What Is Energy? - Energy Explained, Your Guide To Understanding Energy

What Is Energy? - Energy Explained, Your Guide To Understanding Energy

Energy Is the Ability To Do Work

Energy comes in different forms:

  • Heat (thermal)
  • Light (radiant)
  • Motion (kinetic)
  • Electrical
  • Chemical
  • Nuclear energy
  • Gravitational

Energy is in everything. We use energy for everything we do, from making a jump shot to baking cookies to sending astronauts into space.

There are two types of energy:

  • Stored (potential) energy
  • Working (kinetic) energy

For example, the food you eat contains chemical energy, and your body stores this energy until you use it when you work or play.

Energy Sources Can be Categorized As Renewable or Nonrenewable

When we use electricity in our home, the electrical power was probably generated by burning coal, by a nuclear reaction, or by a hydroelectric plant at a dam. Therefore, coal, nuclear and hydro are called energy sources. When we fill up a gas tank, the source might be petroleum or ethanol made by growing and processing corn.

Energy sources are divided into two groups — renewable (an energy source that can be easily replenished) and nonrenewable (an energy source that we are using up and cannot recreate). Renewable and nonrenewable energy sources can be used to produce secondary energy sources including electricity and hydrogen.

Renewable Energy

Renewable energy sources include:

  • Solar energy from the sun, which can be turned into electricity and heat
  • Wind
  • Geothermal energy from heat inside the Earth
  • Biomass from plants, which includes firewood from trees, ethanol from corn, and biodiesel from vegetable oil
  • Hydropower from hydroturbines at a dam


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