Testing Types of Biomass
One of the least-known types of renewable energy is the energy made from biomass, or organic matter that decays. When the biomass decays, it produces a gas that can be used for energy, similar to natural gas, called “biogas.” You can make your own biogas and measure it by placing decaying organic matter into a bottle, covering it with distilled water, and stretching a balloon over the top. The balloon will grow as biogas is produced. You can test which types of biomass produce the most biogas by measuring out an equal amount of each of the following: cow manure, fruit and vegetable peels, moldy bread, and other rotting food. The next time you help to clean out your refrigerator, you could find the perfect ingredients for your renewable energy science fair project!
The Energy in Peanuts
Did you know that burning peanuts can produce energy as well? In fact, that’s why peanuts give your body so much energy when you digest them. You can use this fact in a science project. Dangle a tin can in the air; you can tie some string around its rim and suspend from the bottom of a kitchen cupboard so that it’s hanging above a counter top. Add some water, and then place a burning peanut underneath it. You can keep the peanut safely standing by poking one end of a needle through a cork and the other through the peanut, and then set it on fire (with adult supervision). Measure the temperature increase of the water to show that the burning peanut is heating the water.
For your science experiment, you may want to figure out which kind of nut will release the most energy when burned – a basic peanut? A roasted peanut? A cashew or other type of nut? Make your hypothesis based on what you know about how potential energy is stored in foods, and then try an experiment to test it out.
Hydroelectric Power and Water Depth
Science projects about hydroelectric power can be difficult to create, unless you’re able to hook up a generator to a miniature water wheel. You can, however, explore different aspects of hydroelectric power. For example, why are water wheels placed so far below the surface of the water? You can figure this out by doing an experiment that shows whether deep water has more power than shallow water.
To do this, poke two holes into a container, one near the bottom of the container, and one near the top of the container. Tape over the two holes, and then fill the container with water. Remove one piece of tape, and measure the distance that the water travels. Then replace that piece of tape and remove the other one. Take a look at your results and think about what might have caused them and how the results can help you understand this aspect of water wheels.
This post is part of the series: Winning Science Fair Projects
Looking for some winning science fair projects? The science fair project ideas in this series are the perfect place to start.