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Energy Conversion

Running Head: Energy Conversion Energy Conversion Marlon Walker Professor Abdul Kahn SCI 110: Integrated Science October 21, 2011 Abstract Energy conversion has been a topic of debate and research for many years. Scientists conduct experiments in hopes of finding an alternative to relying on burning fossil fuels for electricity. While companies who believe their alternative is the best choice, debate over whose source is the “greenest”. Whether it be biomass, hydroelectricity, solar power, or wind turbines; we must find a new energy source before it is too late.

Converting Energy Although many go unnoticed, energy conversions occur everyday. A “device” called a transducer converts energy from one form to another. For example, solar cells convert solar radiation, a form of thermal energy, into electrical energy that can then be used to power a light bulb (Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia). Humans undergo energy conversions and don’t even notice it. When you eat your body stores it as potential energy that is then converted to kinetic energy that can be used to complete daily tasks.

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Believe it or not, without these small conversions many projects we complete everyday would become virtually impossible; especially where electrical energy is concerned. Fossil Fuels Fossil fuels are fuels formed by natural occurrences; most commonly the decomposition of buried organic material. The most common fossil fuels are coal, petroleum, and natural gas. These fossil fuels are extremely popular because by simply burning them, a significant amount of energy is produced that can be easily converted into useful material.

The main downside to these substances is they take millions of years to form, making them non-renewable. Fossil fuels are slowly but surely becoming obsolete, due to their detrimental effects on the environment. They emit harmful gases into the atmosphere that has been said to contribute to a concept referred to as global warming. Although these gases are deteriorating our ozone layer no alternative energy source has been concerned efficient enough to take the place of fossil fuels. Alternative Energy Sources

Scientists have been researching “cleaner” substitutes to burning fossil fuels for electricity. There are many different sources that have been proven to work, but none emit anywhere near as much energy as fossil fuels do. Solar energy was one of the first alternatives tried. It is extremely expensive, but very effective. By using solar that activate when in the presence of sunlight, people can heat their homes. A downside to this energy source is not all countries experience sunlight at all times, meaning when they have no sunlight, they are left without power.

However, solar energy is completely silent meaning there is no noise factor during conversion. On the other hand, the panels must be placed on the roof and are not very aesthetically pleasing, but are virtually maintenance free (Bocchine). Hydroelectricity is one of the most widely used renewable energy sources. It is not only the most feasible, but also the most reliable and consistent form of energy. Using a large water reserve stored at a high altitude generates hydroelectricity.

Multiple turbines downstream from the reservoir are connected to the reservoir with large pipelines called penstocks. The potential energy stored from this reaction gets converted into kinetic energy, which activates the turbine blades and produces electricity. The operational costs are actually quite low and allow these large reservoirs to be used for many other purposes including agriculture, irrigation, fishing, etc. Unlike most energy sources, electricity is generated almost instantaneously.

The main downside to this energy substitute is not all countries have access to this large amount of water, especially the countries that frequently experience droughts (Tintin). Hopefully years from now, we will have an alternative to the harmful effects of burning fossil fuels. Conclusion At this point in time fossil fuels are our only guaranteed energy source, but years down the line we will discover a safe, inexpensive, internationally accepted, “clean” alternative. Hopefully this discovery will be made well before it is too late. References Bocchine, S. 2007, October 15). Pros & Cons of Solar Power/? Panels. Retrieved October 21, 2011, from Earth 911 website: http://earth911. com/? news/? 2007/? 10/? 15/? pros-and-cons-of-solar-power/ Tintin. (2011). Hydroelectricity Pros and Cons [Buzzle. com]. Retrieved October 21, 2011, from Buzzle website: http://www. buzzle. com/? articles/? hydroelectricity-pros-and-cons. html Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia. (2011, October 13). Energy transformation. Retrieved October 21, 2011, from Wikimedia Foundation Inc. website: http://en. wikipedia. org/? wiki/? Energy_transformation


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