BURN: Electricy

Between bizarre & unimaginable: Life off the grid

Michelle Nijhuis has lived off the electrical grid with her husband Jack Perrin in the tiny town of Paonia, Colorado for fifteen years in a house built with straw bales, plastered with mud and powered by the sun. It’s a way of life, Nijhuis says, many consider “somewhere between bizarre and unimaginable.”

June 24, 2013 more »

The Power of One (Fall 2012)

This is the Fastest Car in the world. And it’s Green. Upcoming segment from “The Power of One”

photos by Hugh Hamilton


Okay, strictly speaking, it’s not the fastest car in the world. But it has an arguable claim to being the quickest (zero-to-60: three seconds). And unlike hyper-Ferraris and Porsches,…

July 17, 2012 more »

Major Sources of Energy: Their Advantages and Disadvantages

There is no easy answer to what is the best source of energy or electricity. Is the priority reliability, affordability, the economy, international human rights, limiting greenhouse gas emissions, preserving environmental resources, or human health?






It’s undeniable that today — whether we like it or not — humans…

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 »

Forms of Energy: Motion, Heat, Light, Sound


Energy comes in two basic forms: potential and kinetic. Potential Energy is any type of stored energy; it isn’t shown through movement. Potential energy can be chemical, nuclear, gravitational, or mechanical. Kinetic Energy is the energy of movements: the motion of objects (from people to planets), the vibrations of atoms by sound waves or in thermal energy (heat), the electromagnetic energy of the movements of light waves, and the motion of electrons in electricity.

April 11, 2012 more »

Audio Features: Alex Chadwick Discusses Electric Cars on Marketplace

Testing the voltage of a battery at the Electric Car Conversion Conference in Cape Girardeau, MO.

In September 2011, an international group of car and technology enthusiasts gathered in Cape Girardeau, MO for the first EVCCON — the Electric Vehicle Conversion Convention. They came from China and New Zealand, Amsterdam and Ontario, and from throughout the U.S. to exchange ideas, swap stories, and drive really really fast down a taxiway at the Cape Regional Airport.

December 9, 2011 more »

Meet Our Host:

Hi, My Name is Alex Chadwick.   I want to tell you about Burn: An Energy Journal.  It’s a new series from The Public Radio Energy Project and you are invited.  We’ll share stories of Energy, Cars, Gasoline, Oil, Hybrids, Climate Change, Nuclear Power, Light Bulbs, Windmills, Bicycles, Skateboards, Kites and anything else that comes to…

November 10, 2011 more »

The electricity grid: A history

In the early days of electricity, energy systems were small and localized. In 1882, New York’s Pearl Street Station became the first of these complete systems, connecting a 100-volt generator that burned coal to power a few hundred lamps in the neighborhood. Soon, many similar self-contained, isolated systems were built across the country.

November 10, 2011 more »