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Cheat Sheet
Alternative Energy For Dummies
From Alternative Energy For Dummies by Rik DeGunther
If you want to make alternative energy a part of your life, either through
your car, home, or at work, you should understand some basic energy
terminology and the various alternative energy sources being used and
developed.

Alternative Energy Terms


If you want to get involved in the alternative energy conversation (and
understand what you read and hear), learning these basic terms about energy
is a good place to start:
Alternative energy: Energy sources that don’t include fossil fuels or
carbon-combustible products such as gasoline, coal, natural gas, and so on
BTU (British Thermal Unit): The basic unit of energy in the English system
Energy: The total amount of effort, or work, it takes to accomplish a certain
task
Energy efficiency: The ratio of the useful work obtained from a process to
the raw power taken to achieve that process
First law of thermodynamics: A key physics principle stating that energy
can neither be created nor destroyed (that is, energy is never used up; it
simply changes forms)
Joule (J): The basic unit of energy in the international system
Power: The speed with which energy is being expended to achieve a task
Renewable energy: Forms of energy that constantly replenish themselves
with little or no human effort
Second law of thermodynamics: The physics principle stating that the
disorder of any closed system can only increase — that waste is
unavoidable
Sustainable energy: Forms of energy that are not only renewable but also

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Alternative Energy For Dummies Cheat Sheet - For Dummies http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/alternative-energy-for-dummie...

have the ability to keep Earth’s ecosystem up and running in perpetuity


Watt: Power is energy per time, and the standard unit of measurement is
the watt. 1 Watt (W) = 1 joule/ second = 3.412 Btu/hr. 1 HP = 0.746 kW

Sources of Alternative Energy


Coming up with alternative energy sources is essential due to the energy
demands of a growing population and dwindling supplies of fossil fuels. This
list is an overview of available alternative sources of energy:
Biofuels: Biofuels are made of biomass products and can be used to
generate electric power as well as fuel transport. Crops and crop residues
(particularly corn) are used to produce ethanol, a liquid commonly added to
gasoline. Other grains such as wheat, rye, and rice are used to produce
biofuels. Soybeans, peanuts, and sunflowers are used to make biodiesel
fuel.
Biomass: Biomass is sawgrass, mulch, corn, and so on, that can be
burned in raw form or processed into liquid fuels or solid fuels. Wood and
grasses are directly combusted to provide heat for boilers which can drive
turbines and produce electricity. Corn, animal waste (yes, poop!), and wood
pellets are burned in residential stoves to provide heat.
Electric vehicles: Electric vehicles use only electricity to power the drive
train. The electricity comes from batteries or fuel cells.
Fuel cell–powered vehicles: Hydrogen fuel cells combine oxygen and
hydrogen to produce water and electrical energy. The fuel cells are used to
propel either an electric vehicle or a hybrid.
Fuel cells: Fuel cells produce electrical power from nothing more than
hydrogen and oxygen, are completely free of carbon, and exhaust only
water and heat.
Geothermal power: Heat from the earth is redistributed into a building or is
used to generate electrical power.
Hybrid vehicles: Hybrid vehicles are a combination of electric and internal
combustion power trains. When power requirements are low, the vehicle
operates in electrical mode. When more power is needed, or when the
electrical batteries are near depletion, an internal combustion engine
provides power.
Hydropower: Dams provide high-pressure water flows that spin turbines,
thereby creating electricity. Hydropower can be used on both a macro and

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micro (individual) level.


Nuclear fission: Splitting atoms creates heat energy, which is used to
generate electrical power by spinning large turbines.
Solar power: Solar power uses sunshine to create both heat and electricity,
as well as passive heating and cooling effects in buildings.
Wind power: Windmills produce electrical power via spinning turbines.

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