BURN: Learn

Basic information about the science of Energy. Science is at the core of understanding our relationship with Energy, but don’t worry: science does not have to be scary. We start with the basics and go from there.

The meaning of combustion

lit match

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

battery

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 »

Wind Science, Energy, and Growing Prevalence

windmill_figure

Wind energy is one of the cleanest forms of energy available because it doesn’t require a fuel or produce greenhouse gas or other bi-products, outside of those from production and maintenance of equipment and transmission.

April 12, 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 »

Energy Science, Policy & Economics

BURN_avatar_01a_outline_800

This is where you’ll find some basic information about the science of Energy. And let’s be absolutely clear about it: science is at the core of understanding our relationship with Energy. But don’t worry, science does not have to be scary. We’ll start with the basics and go from there.

April 11, 2012 more »

Forms of Energy: Motion, Heat, Light, Sound

gravitational copy

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 »

Salt Domes

Entrance to a German salt dome mine

Salt domes are massive underground salt deposits. Mushroom-shaped and thousands of feet thick, they form where shallows seas once stood. They built up over tens of thousands of years as saltwater flooded these former marine basins, then evaporated.

March 6, 2012 more »

Physics and How Machines Work

wasketel_

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 »

Water Depends on Energy, Or Is It The Other Way Around?

San Francisco rain run-off is treated and discharged to Mission Creek.

Energy accounted for almost 40 percent of water use in 2000, according to figures by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The United States took more than 400 billion gallons of water out of the ground, lakes, rivers, and reservoirs daily in 2005. That’s more than a thousand gallons per person, per day.

August 5, 2011 more »

Ocean Energy

BigSurSurf

You don’t have to talk about hurricanes and tsunamis to know that the oceans are powerful. People have dreamed about harnessing their energies for centuries, and today there are many projects worldwide experimenting with just how to plug into the oceans.

August 5, 2011 more »