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Lesson 4.2 Types of Energy
What is energy?
You probably have heard the word energy used on television, the
cars are energy efficient. What is energy? Scientists define energy as
the ability to cause a change. Using this definition, what does energy
have to do with cars? Most cars use some type of fuel, such as
gasoline or diesel, as their energy source. A cars engine transforms
the energy stored in the fuel to a form of energy that moves the car.
Compared to other cars, the car that is energy efficient uses less fuel
to make the car move a certain distance.
Gasoline and diesel fuel are not the only sources of energy. Food
isan energy source for your body. Also, satellites need a source of
energy to run their systems and to stay in orbit. Solar panels provide
energy for the International Space Station. As you will read, wind,
coal, nuclear fuel, Earths interior, and the Sun also are sources of
energy.
Energy from each of these sources can be transformed into other
forms of energy, such as electric energy. Every time you turn on a
light, you use energy that was transformed from one form to another.
Lesson 4.2 Goes with Student Page 140
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Kinetic Energy
Imagine turning a page of a book. As the page was moving, it had
kinetic energythe energy an object has because it is in motion.
Anything that is in motion has kinetic energy, including large
objects that you can see as well as small particles, such as
molecules, ions, atoms, and electrons.
Kinetic Energy of Objects
Huge wind turbines on wind farms use wind as a source of energy.
When the wind blows, the large blades of the wind turbines turn.
Because the blades are moving, they have kinetic energy. Kinetic
energy depends on mass. If the turbine blades were smaller and had
less mass, they would have less kinetic energy.
Kinetic energy also depends on speed. When the wind blows
harder, the blades move faster. The faster the blades move, the more
kinetic energy they have. When the wind stops, the blades stop. When
the blades are not moving, the kinetic energy of the blades is zero.
One of the drawbacks of using wind-generated energy is that wind
does not always blow. As a result, wind provides an inconsistent
supply of energy.
Electric Energy
When you turn on a lamp or use a cell phone, you are using a
typeof kinetic energyelectric energy. Recall that all objects are
composed of atoms. Electrons move around the nucleus of an atom,
and they move from one atom to another. When electrons move,
they have kinetic energy and create an electric current. The energy
that an electric current carries is a form of kinetic energy called
electric energy.
Electric energy can be produced by moving objects. When the
blades of the wind turbines rotate, they turn a generator. The
generator changes the kinetic energy of the moving blades into
electric energy. Electric energy generated from the kinetic energy of
wind is a clean source of energy because it creates no waste products.
Lesson 4.2 Goes with Student Page 141
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Potential Energy
Suppose you hold up a piece of paper. When the paper is held
above the ground, it has potential energy. Potential energy is stored
energy that depends on the interaction of objects, particles, or atoms.
Gravitational Potential Energy
Gravitational potential energy is a type of potential energy
stored in an object due to its height above Earths surface. The
water at the top of a dam has gravitational potential energy because
it is higher above the surface of Earth than the water at the base of
the dam. Gravitational potential energy depends on the mass of an
object and its distance from Earths surface. The more mass an
object has and the greater its distance from Earth, the greater its
gravitational potential energy.
In a hydroelectric energy plant, water above a dam flows through
turbines as it falls. Generators connected to the spinning turbines
convert the gravitational potential energy of the water into electric
energy. Hydroelectric energy plants are a very clean source of energy.
About 7 percent of all electric power in the United States is produced
from hydroelectric energy. However, hydroelectric plants can
interrupt the movement of animals in streams and rivers.
Lesson 4.2 Goes with Student Page 142
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Chemical Energy
Most electric energy in the United States comes from fossil fuels
such as petroleum, natural gas, and coal. Chemical bonds join the
atoms that make up these fossil fuels. Chemical bonds have the
potential to break apart. Therefore, chemical bonds have a form
ofpotential energy called chemical energy. Chemical energy is
energy that is stored in and released from the bonds between atoms.
When fossil fuels burn, the chemical bonds between the atoms
break apart. When this happens, chemical energy transforms to
thermal energy. This energy is used to heat water and form steam.
The steam turns a turbine, which is connected to a generator that
generates electric energy.
A drawback of fossil fuels is that they introduce harmful waste
products, such as sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide, into the
environment. Sulfur dioxide in the air creates acid rain. Scientists
aresearching for replacement fuels.
Fossil fuels are not the only source of chemical energy. Chemical
energy also is stored in the foods you eat. Your body converts the
energy stored in chemical bonds in food into the kinetic energy of
your moving muscles and into the electric energy that sends signals
Nuclear Energy
Most energy on Earth comes from the Sun. A process in the Sun
called nuclear fusion joins the nuclei of atoms. Nuclear fusion
releases large amounts of energy.
On Earth, nuclear energy plants use the potential energy stored in
the nuclei of atoms to produce electric energy. In these plants, the
nuclei of certain atoms break apart using a process called nuclear
fission. Both nuclear fusion and nuclear fission release nuclear
energyenergy stored in and released from the nucleus of an atom.
Nuclear fission produces a large amount of energy from just a
small amount of fuel. However, the process produces radioactive
waste that is hazardous and difficult to dispose of safely.
Lesson 4.2 Goes with Student Page 143
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Kinetic and Potential Energies Combined
Recall that a moving object has kinetic energy. Objects such as
wind turbine blades and particles, such as molecules, ions, atoms,
and electrons, often have kinetic and potential energies.
Mechanical Energy
The sum of potential energy and kinetic energy in a system of
objects is mechanical energy. Mechanical energy is the energy a
system has because of the movement of its parts (kinetic energy)
and because of the position of its parts (potential energy).
An object, such as a wind turbine, has mechanical energy because
the parts that make up the system have both potential energy and
kinetic energy. A rotating blade has kinetic energy because of its
motion. It also has gravitational potential energy because of its
distance from Earths surface.
Thermal Energy
The particles that make a wind turbine also have thermal energy.
Thermal energy is the sum of the kinetic energy and potential energy
of the particles that make up an object. Although you cannot see the
individual particles move, they vibrate back and forth in place. This
movement gives the particles kinetic energy. The particles also have
potential energy because of the distance between particles and the
charge of the particles.
Geothermal Energy
The particles in Earths interior contain great amounts of thermal
energy. This energy is called geothermal energy. Geothermal energy
plants use this thermal energy to heat water and turn it to steam.
Thesteam turns turbines in electric generators, converting the
geothermal energy to electric energy. Geothermal energy produces
almost no pollution. However, geothermal plants must be built in
places where molten rock is close to Earths surface.
Lesson 4.2 Goes with Student Page 144
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Energy from Waves
Have you ever seen waves crash on a beach? When a big wave
crashes, you hear the sound of the impact. The movement and the
sound result from the energy carried by the wave. Waves are
disturbances that carry energy from one place to another. Waves
move only energy, not matter.
Sound Energy
Clapping your hands together creates a sound wave in the air.
Sound waves move through matter. Sound energy is energy carried
by sound waves. Some animals, such as bats, emit sound waves to
find their prey. The length of time it takes sound waves to travel to
abats prey and then echo back tells the bat the location of its prey.
Seismic Energy
You probably have seen news reports showing photographs of
damage caused by earthquakes. Earthquakes occur when Earths
tectonic plates, or large portions of Earths crust, suddenly shift
position. The kinetic energy of the plate movement is carried
throughthe ground by seismic waves. Seismic energy is the energy
transferred by waves moving through the ground. Seismic energy can
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When you listen to the radio, use a lamp, or talk on your cell
phone, do you think of waves? Electromagnetic waves are electric
and magnetic waves that move perpendicular to each other, as
shown Figure 9 in your text.
Radio waves, light waves, and microwaves are all electromagnetic
waves, as shown in Figure 10 in your text. Some electromagnetic
waves can travel through solids, liquids, gases, and vacuums. The
energy carried by electromagnetic waves is radiant energy.
Electromagnetic waves transmit the Suns energy to Earth.
Photovoltaic (foh toh vohl TAY ihk) cells, also called solar cells, are