BURN: Chemistry

The meaning of combustion

Combustion reactions, or burning, create many different chemical compounds, but the most prevalent one is carbon dioxide. Other compounds produced depend on where the fuel came from and how it was burned.

April 22, 2012 more »

Storing Energy: Fuel Cells and Beyond

Storing energy is important for both long-term and short-term uses: to meet changes in energy supply and demand and to iron out irregularities in energy output, whether that’s in a car engine or on the power grid. Unfortunately, we can only store a tiny fraction¬† of the electricity we produce in a single day. Instead, power plants have to send their thousands of megawatts of electricity to the right place, at the right time.

April 13, 2012 more »

The Hydrogen Economy, Hydrogen Sources, and the Science Behind These

Hydrogen-filled Hindenburg 1936 or 1937.

The “hydrogen economy” is a hypothetical future in which energy can be bought, sold, stored, and transported in a currency of hydrogen, much like today’s energy is often exchanged in electricity. Because hydrogen doesn’t need to be attached to the electricity grid, it can be used in forms of transportation like buses and cars.

April 12, 2012 more »

Photovoltaic Cells, Solar Power, and LEDs

Most of the world’s energy can go back to our sun. Every day we are heated by its electromagnetic rays, and plants use the sun’s energy to make sugars and ultimately proteins and other good things to eat. Fossil fuels were also once made from these plant and other organisms that relied on the sun’s…

April 12, 2012 more »

The Connections Between Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Energy

Most of the greenhouse gas emitted through human activity comes from the production of energy.

This group of gases is thought to contribute to global climate change, long-term shifts in weather partly due to the tendency of these gases to trap energy, in the form of electromagnetic…

The Connection Between Greenhouse Gases, Climate Change & Global Warming



Climate change is the shift in long-term, global weather patterns due to human action; it’s not exclusive to warming or cooling.

Climate change includes any change resulting from different factors, like deforestation or an increase in greenhouse gases. Global warming is…

August 5, 2011 more »

Physics and How Machines Work

Machines are so complicated these days it’s difficult to quickly explain how they work. Nonetheless, today’s machines were built using the basic scientific principles that we began harnessing hundreds of years ago.

August 5, 2011 more »

Basics of Electricity and Circuits: How Energy Moves Through the Home

The first major use of electricity began in 1879, when Thomas Edison began installing incandescent lighting in notable locations like Wall Street in New York City. Edison wasn’t alone in his pursuit of electricity development, but he was the first to install integrated systems in conspicuous places.

August 5, 2011 more »