InsideOutregisterevents for schoolsnewsdiscoverget togethersitemap
 
 discover > energy > the science > power up
the sourcepower upeveryday usethe environment
THE SCIENCE : POWER UP
ENERGY EXPLORER HUMAN CANNONBALL QUIZ BIG QUESTIONS

How do we convert energy in the world today? How exactly do we Power Up?

The energy that we use in the world today is either renewable or non-renewable. Can you think of examples of these two types of energy sources?

Solar energy is a renewable energy source, wind, geothermal energy, biomass (from organic matter) and hydropower are also renewable energy sources.

Coal Power Station   But most of the energy that we use today comes from a non-renewable source, namely from fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas). Uranium, which is an essential substance for nuclear fission, is also a non-renewable source of energy. These materials are difficult to replace. In fact, scientists are concerned that fossil fuels will run out because the rate at which we are using up fossil fuels is increasing. Coal, oil and natural gas provide us with the most economical source of power: 95% of our commercial energy comes from fossil fuels.

Launch it ...
Have a look at the Energy Explorer and find out how we convert energy.
Launch
Did you know ... ?
Did You Know?
Discuss it ...
What do you think about the amount of fossil fuels we are using?
Discuss

It is very difficult to find out exactly how much fossil fuel resources are left: fossil fuels are found all over the world and can have a great deal of impact on politics between countries. According to investigations, it is predicted that we will not run out for quite some time, but that doesn’t mean that we can carry on burning more. Although we seem to have plenty of coal, some investigations state that we have only about 50 years of oil reserves left at our current rate of use, and about 100 years worth of natural gas.

Discuss

Power Up – Nuclear Style!

All of the energy from the sun is generated via a process called nuclear fusion. This is when two small atoms – usually hydrogen – are bought together to form a larger one, giving off huge amounts of energy and radiation. Scientists have been trying to re-create this process here on earth for more than 20 years.

Currently, all of our nuclear power comes from nuclear fission, a process based on splitting uranium atoms. Nuclear fission also creates large amounts of energy, but nuclear fusion has the potential to produce much more energy, more safely and with less radioactive waste. Sounds useful, doesn’t it?

So will we ever be able to generate our power from nuclear fusion? The truth is that no one knows the real answer. Energy has been produced by fusion in the laboratory, but the amount of energy needed to make it happen has been far greater than the energy produced!

Discuss

Nuclear Power Station   Nuclear energy has both good and bad points. It creates a huge amount of energy without using valuable fossil fuels, but it also produces radioactive materials that can be extremely harmful to humans, other animals and plants. Workers at nuclear plants run a risk due to this radioactive material, and the power plants must be run very carefully to ensure that there are no mistakes. Even small leaks of radioactive material into the environment can have a serious effect. The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 demonstrated what can go wrong. Radioactive material escaped from a nuclear power station in the Soviet Union and entered the earth’s atmosphere, causing potentially huge long-term damage.

Did You Know ... ? Did You Know?

Teachers' Notes ...
For Teachers' Notes on this subject, click here

Teachers' Notes
 
go to top feedback

 

Is beauty skin deep?