Although oil and gas plays a huge part in our everyday lives, from fuelling our cars to being used to make plastic bottles, there is more to energy than you might think.
So, we are taking a look through the A to Z of Energy in a special series – with the help of you, our Young Energy readers.
Each month we are looking at a word or phrase beginning with each letter of the alphabet. You have already helped us define atomic energy, biofuel and, this month, coal.
Thank you to all the students and schools who sent in entries for a definition of coal – we enjoyed them all – and well done to Mintlaw Academy student Rachel Massie whose entry won this month.
That means Rachel has won an iPad for her school, courtesy of Shell, which is kindly supporting our A to Z of Energy competition.
Shell’s Inside Energy app for the iPad helps young people to explore the role energy innovation plays in our everyday lives and is packed with information through videos, animations and photo galleries.
Now, can you help us with the next entry in our alphabet?
This month our letter is D – for diesel. Tell is in your own words about where is comes from, its history, how it is made and its future.
All you need to do is write this up for us in no more than 250 words and e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 23.
We are looking for original and creative entries – so no cheating on Wikipedia! The winning entry will win an iPad for their school or class. Good luck to you all.
C for Coal: by Rachel Massie
Coal is a combustible black or dark brown rock consisting mainly of carbonised plant matter, found mainly in underground deposits and widely used as a fuel.
Not all coal is composed of the same compounds, different types of coal are characterised by their unique properties and when they are burned they produce different results.
Coal is a hydrocarbon-rich fossil fuel and it was formed millions of years ago just like other fossils were. The amount of energy given off by coal is defined by the heat value measured in British Thermal Units.
Trace elements such as zinc, arsenic, cadmium and mercury have an affinity for sulphur and attach themselves to coal.
Different types of coal you can get are peat, lignite, sub-bituminous coal, bituminous coal and anthracite coal.
Coal is one stop that carbon atoms make as they move from one location to another as part of the world’s carbon cycle. Coal generates 41% of world electricity.
Thirty years ago, coal was seen as a fuel of the past. Nuclear power and natural gas were going to take us away from the Dickensian era of coal furnaces, steam-powered locomotives, and grime.
But King Coal recovered, and is now used in record amounts. Forecasts of future energy use give a prominent role to coal.
Some would say that coal is back and here to stay. Although coal produces a lot of our electricity, it’s not the best source for the environment.