P1a 4 (AQA Core Physics)

notes on AQA Core physics unit 4 (generating electricity) adapted from the information in the Nelson thornes text book :)

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  • Created on: 15-01-12 17:34

Unit summary

  • Some power stations use non-renewable sources of energy e.g. coal, oil
  • In nuclear power stations, the power is generated by nuclear fission
  • Examples of renewable energy sources are; wind, wave, tidal, hydroelectric, solar, geothermal
  • Both renewable and non-renewable fuels have advantages and disadvantages
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P1a 4.1 Fuel for electricity

  • In most power stations, power is created by burning fuel to heat water. The steam produced turns a turbine, coupled to a generator to convert the kinetic energy into electrical energy
  • The most common type of fuel to be used is fossil fuels
  • Uranium (used in nuclear power stations) releases more energy per kilo than fossil fuels do
  • Nuclear fission is when the nuclei in the atoms are split; releasing energy previously stored as nuclear energy
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P1a 4.2 Energy from wind and water

  • Wind and water can be used to turn turbines without the need for fuel
  • A wind turbine is a turbine on top of a tall structure, placed in a windy place such as off shore
  • Hydroelectric power is generated by a turbine being turned by water running downhill
  • A wave turbine is powered by waves being pushed into a chamber and forcing the air out of it, through a pipe. The turbine is in the pipe and is turned by the air being pushed out of the chamber
  • A tidal Power Station uses rising and falling tides in the mouths of rivers to turn its turbines
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P1a 4.3 Power from the sun and earth

  • Energy from the sun can be used to generate electricity using solar cells, or it can be used to directly heat water in a solar heating panel
  • Solar energy is very useful for heating small things such as watches or calculators
  • Geothermal energy comes from radioactive decay deep inside the earth
  • Geothermal power stations use the heat to heat water and turn a turbine in the same way as a regular power station, but without the need for fuel 
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P1a 4.4 Energy and the environment

  • All fuels have advantages and disadvantages
  • Fossil fuels produce greenhouse gases and are non-renewable, but are reliable
  • Coal and oil contribute to acid rain
  • Nuclear power does not produce gases, but its waste is radioactive and it is non-renewable
  • Wind and water power sources are free and renewable, but are unreliable and can be bad for the habitats which they are built in
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summary questions

1.    What is the difference between renewable and non-renewable fuels?

2.    What are the three ways of generating electricity using water?

3.    How can geothermal energy be used to generate electricity?

4.    What are the disadvantages of fossil fuels?

5.    What is a problem with nuclear power?

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