Physical Science: Energy How Energy Can Be Essay


Physical Science: Energy How Energy Can be Converted from one Form to Another, With Examples

"Energy" is defined as the capacity to produce changes within a system. Within a system, energy can be changed to a different state in order to perform work in natural processes or machines (Shipman, Wilson, & Todd, 2009, pp. 88-89). Plants, animals and machines all convert energy to perform work in their processes. Through Photosynthesis, green plants use Chlorophyll, composed of miniature energy factories called Chloroplasts, to convert solar energy into storable chemical energy as a sugar called Glucose (Nave, Pigments for photosynthesis, n.d.). In the body of an animal or human, the cells' energy factories, called Mitochondria, contain Organelles, which convert chemical energy stored in food into Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP), which is the energy used in life processes (Nave, Mitochondria, n.d.). An internal combustion engine, such as a car's engine, converts the potential chemical energy in gasoline and oxygen into heat, then into kinetic (here, mechanical) energy, which propels the car (Cromer & Proctor II, 2012).

2. The Meaning of Fossil Fuels, Why They are an Attractive Energy Source, and Why They are an Unattractive Energy Source

Fossil fuels are hydrocarbons formed from the remains of dead plants and animals. The most prevalent forms of fossil fuels are coal, fuel oil and natural gas (Science Daily, 2010). They are an attractive energy source for several reasons: initially, they were easy to extract, plentiful, easy to Virginia Tech, 2007)

Fossil fuels are also an unattractive source of fuel because they are inefficient and result in considerable pollution. Since no conversion process can convert all the energy of one form into the new form and since the conversion of fossil fuels into electricity takes several steps, fossil fuels are an inefficient source of electric power, hovering around 40% efficiency. Fossil fuels also pollute the environment with fly ash, and "greenhouse gases" such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and nitrous oxides gases. These "greenhouse gases" contribute to acid rain and global warming effects (Consortium on Energy Restructuring, Virginia Tech, 2007; PhysicsnScience, 2011).

3. Two Energy Alternatives to Fossil Fuels

Two energy alternatives to fossil fuels are hydroelectric power and wind power, both of which are indirect types of solar power. Hydroelectric power is an indirect source of solar power because it uses the "stream-flow" portion of the hydrological cycle. In hydroelectric power plants, a…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

Consortium on Energy Restructuring, Virginia Tech. (2007). Distributed generation | education modules | chapter 2: sources of energy. Retrieved from Virginia Tech University Web site:

Cromer, O.C., & Proctor II, C.L. (2012, January 8). Gasoline engine. Retrieved from Web site:

Nave, R. (n.d.). Mitochondria. Retrieved from

Nave, R. (n.d.). Pigments for photosynthesis. Retrieved from
PhysicsnScience. (2011, September 15). How efficient is hydroelectric power generation? Retrieved from PhysicsnScience Web site:!/2011/09/how-efficient-is-hydroelectric-power.html
Science Daily. (2010). Fossil fuel. Retrieved from Science Web site:

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