Your Questions About Solar Energy For Kids

Carol asks…

Pl. send any social org.Who can privide fin. support for my project of use of solar energy in automobile?

I am trying to use solar energy in four wheeler.###Trying to mount solar pannel on carrier of 4 wheeler and providing solar power to a/c,lighting and music system.This has been sent to govt. since one month ,But I hope nobody will take care of it as my experience says.

admin answers:

Our company took one of those 12 volt John Deere Gator toys that kids ride on, and mounted solar panels on the roof, and it would have to sit in the sun two solid days to charge the battery to where the kid could actually drive it.

It’s only a working idea that they take to schools for energy fairs, and it’s only to inspire. So I know if you are looking to actually power a real car, not even a golf cart (NEV) with solar panels hanging off everywhere, you are going to need to find the latest technology and even then there will likely be a lot of shade with panels hanging way over the roof and hood nearly like an airplane to get it to where you could drive on the generation. It kind of sounds like the National Lampoon’s Vacation Family Truckster, ‘If you think it looks bad, just wait until you drive it…’

Ken asks…

What does mechanical and thermal energy have to do with Global Warming?

I am doing a project about the conversion that take place in Global Warming. I need to figure how heat, mechanical energy, and thermal energy is converted.

admin answers:

Global warming is the theory that the earth is warming. There is little accurate data to support this, but historically we are very cold, almost as cold as the ice ages. So, likely we are warming. Anthropomorphic global warming is theory that man’s activities contribute significantly or mostly to global warming. No evidence for that, but many people fervently believe in it anyway.

Not clear what energy conversion you are talking about. Energy can have different forms. Two basic catagories are potential energy and kinetic energy. Potential energy is stored energy that can do work; kinetic energy is energy stored in the motion of an object. Classical examples are kid on a swing or roller coaster. As the kid or coaster reaches the top, speed slows as potenial energy (height of weight) increases, and kinetic energy, sort of like momentum, decreases.

Other distinctions are things like chemical, mechanical, thermal, electrical energy. For example, coal or oil are chemical energy (also potential energy). A moving machine represents mechanical energy.

If you are talking about electrical power generation, this doesn’t have much to do with global warming, but it sounds as if your teacher may think it does.

To make electricity, the most efficient and cheapest was to make it is generally to burn coal. The coal fired plants work by burning the coal to generate heat or thermal energy (same thing). This is used to boil stream inside a huge “tank” called a boiler, and to pressurize the steam to very high pressures and temperatures. This steam goes through a turbine, similar to a big jet engine on an airplane, where it forces the turbine to turn. This is the mechanical energy form. Mechanical energy is nice partly because it is easily converted to electricity. This is done by turning the crank of a generator, which looks pretty much like an electric motor.

Alternative energies can work a little differently. For example, in wind power a propeller (called a wind turbine) is turned by the wine, making mechanical power. This then turns a generator that makes electrical energy. Solar power can use small cells (like a battery) that make a little electricity. Large solar plants use the sun’s heat by focussing in onto a boiler that makes steam and runs it through a turbine to make electricity. Water turbines convert kinetic and potential energy in water to mechanical energy, which again drives generators. This could be considered solar power, since the water gets above the dam via solar energy evaporating it, then rain from the clouds.

Google things like power plants or coal power to get more info.

Good luck.

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