Environmental Engineering Reference
Energy makes things happen. It makes
life possible and is involved in practically
everything we do. Energy comes in different
forms. Electricity is an especially important one.
Electricity powers our lights, helps to heat our homes,
and runs many machines. Without electricity, we would not have
computers, telephones, or television.
A basic fact of nature makes it possible for us to get electricity.
That fact is that energy can be changed from one form to another.
Most often, we get electricity from the form of energy known
as heat. Usually, the heat is used to boil water so that it turns
into steam. The steam runs a machine called a turbine , which
produces a turning movement. The turning movement causes
another machine, called a generator , to make electricity.
Heat can be obtained in different ways. Today, the most
common way to make electricity is to burn fossil fuels such as
coal, oil, or natural gas. Another way to get heat uses a different
approach. It gets heat from the energy packed inside tiny units
of matter called atoms . This type of energy—called nuclear
energy—may play an important role in providing more of the
world's energy in the years to come.
Atoms and Elements
Atoms are very tiny bits of matter. They are made up of even
tinier bits, or particles. These particles come in three main types.