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Energy A-Z

Chemical energy   The energy that keeps atoms bonded together. We make use of chemical energy in fuels. As the fuel burns, the bonds between atoms are broken, which releases energy.

Energy   is the ability to make things happen, cause change and carry out work. Energy is all around us, in many different forms, including heat, light, sound, chemical, kinetic and electrical energy. Energy can change from one form to another, or stored waiting to be used—it is never lost or gained. For example, different energies are converted into electrical energy, which is useful in our modern world. This process is called generating electricity. Without energy, our world would be completely dark and silent.

Fossil fuel   A fuel formed from the remains of living things that died millions of years ago. Coal, oil and natural gas are all types of fossil fuel.

Fuel   Any source of energy.

Geothermal energy   Energy that comes from heat stored deep inside the Earth. This energy will last for millions of years.

Hydro-electric energy   Energy that comes from the kinetic and potential energy of moving water. Hydro-electric power stations control the rush of water through a dam. The movement of the water is used to generate electricity.

Joule   The unit used to measure energy. One joule (J) is the energy exerted when a force of one newton moves an object a distance of one metre.

Kinetic energy   The energy that an object has because of its movement. For example, a ball rolling down a hill has kinetic energy. The faster it rolls, the more kinetic energy it has.

Non-renewable energy   Energy sources that will eventually run out and cannot be replaced for hundreds of millions of years. Oil and coal are both examples of non-renewable energy sources.

Nuclear energy   The energy contained by an atom, due to the strong force that holds together the protons and neutrons in its nucleus. There are two ways of releasing nuclear energy. These are: nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. They are both forms of nuclear reaction.

Nuclear fission   The process of splitting open the nucleus of an atom by blasting it with a high-speed neutron. This releases a huge amount of nuclear energy.

Nuclear fusion   The process of fusing together the nuclei of two atoms. This releases an enormous amount of nuclear energy.

Potential energy   Energy that is stored. For example, a boulder on a hillside has potential energy. As the boulder starts to roll under the force of gravity, its potential energy changes into kinetic energy.

Power   The rate, or speed, at which energy is converted or work is done. Power is measured in watts.

Renewable energy   Energy sources that will not run out because they are constantly replenishing themselves. Renewable energy comes from natural sources, such as sunlight, waves, tides, wind and geothermal heat.  

Solar energy   The heat and light energy that is given off by the Sun. A solar cell is a device that converts solar energy into electrical energy when the cell is exposed to sunlight.

Watt   The unit used to measure power—the speed at which energy is converted. One watt (W) of power is the same as one joule (J) of energy per second.

Work   The energy transferred when a force moves an object over a distance. For example, you have to work to lift a box. You must exert a force on the box to overcome the Earth’s gravitational pull. In order to do this you must first have energy, which you obtain in the form of chemical energy from your food.

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