Environmental Science – Basics of Energy

Hey everyone, this talk will be focused on the basics of energy. Energy is the ability that something has to do work. Energy is used all around us and by us.

There are several forms of energy:

Potential energy is stored energy that is positional. Examples include:

  • Gravitational Energy: the energy of a place
  • Chemical Energy: stored in atomic and molecular bonds
  • Nuclear Energy: stored in the nucleus of an atom
  • Mechanical Energy: stored in objects that can have applied force Ex: Rubber bands

Kinetic energy is the energy in use, in motion. Examples include:

  • Electrical Energy: movement of electrons
  • Thermal Energy: movement of atoms causing heat
  • Sound Energy: movement of energy through matter in longitudinal waves
  • Motion Energy: movement of objects
  • Radiant Energy: Movement of electromagnetic energy in transverse waves

The two laws of Thermodynamics are key to understanding how energy works. The first law is the conservation of energy. This means that through any reaction, energy is never created nor destroyed. Using energy does not mean it is gone, it has just changed to a different form. For example solar panels take in solar energy and convert it into electrical energy.

The second law is the law of entropy. The efficiency of energy is how much use you can get out of a source. Using energy always includes a conversion of form, and this conversion causes a loss of heat. Keep in mind it is not destroyed, it is simply lost as heat into the environment. This is why many sources of energy are not very efficient. Entropy is the randomness of the energy in the environment.

We use energy all the time. To eat, to sleep, to breathe, to see. Our lights, laptops, cars all run on energy too. In the next talk we are going to talk about how we obtain this energy, use it for, and its environmental impacts.

Thank you and stay tuned for more interesting talks! Keep being mindful about the environment! 😀

-Written By: Neil D. 3/23/2019



Living in the Environment –


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