Make your own free website on
IB Physics Assignment: World energy sources
Unit Schedule
Course Outline
Major Assignments
Photo Gallery
Unit Review Assignments
SPH3U Exam Review
Mr. Koivu's Home Page

IB Physics Assignment: Calculations involving World energy sources


This assignment is taken from the IB Physics SL Syllabus. As part of our current energy unit, we are expected to learn about miscellaneous topics relating to world energy sources and their impacts on climate change.



1.         Work in groups of two or three. Please sign up with Mr. Polowski for one of the topics presented below.


2.         Research the topic online. Some of the topics are quite obscure and complex, but do your best to simplify them.


3.         Prepare a very simplified 2 - 3 page summary sheet or ‘fact sheet’ on the topic which we will share with the other IB students in the class.


4.         If you come up with some really great website sources for your information, please include the website link in your fact sheet.


5.         On this worksheet, please don’t overload us with detail but use point form, graphics, graphs and other means of conveying information rather than just paragraphs of text.


6.         Topic list:

 _____________Wave Power: Describe the principle of operation

of an oscillating water column (OWC)ocean-wave energy converter. Determine the power per unit length of a wavefront, assuming a rectangular profile for the wave.

______________Wind Power: Determine the power that may be delivered by a wind generator, assuming that the wind kineticenergy is completely converted into mechanical kinetic energy, and explain why this is impossible. Solve calculated problems involving wind power

_______________ Nuclear Power: Distinguish between controlled

nuclear fission (power production) and uncontrolled nuclear fission

(nuclear weapons). Describe what is meant by fuel enrichment. Describe how neutron capture by a nucleus of uranium-238 (238U) results in the production of a nucleus of

plutonium-239 (239Pu). Describe the importance of plutonium-239 (239Pu) as a nuclear fuel. (It is sufficient for students to know that plutonium-239 (239Pu) is used as a fuel in other types of reactors.)

_______________ Solar Radiation: Calculate the intensity of the Sun’s radiation incident on a planet. Define albedo. State factors that determine a planet’s

albedo. Provide a sketch of the albedo effect and a table showing the albedo of various Earth surfaces such as ice, water etc. Do a basic calculation involving albedo.

________________ Greenhouse Effect: Describe the greenhouse effect.Identify the main greenhouse gases and their sources. Explain the molecular mechanisms

by which greenhouse gases absorb infrared radiation. Analyse absorption graphs to compare the relative effects of differentgreenhouse gases. Outline the nature of black-body radiation. Students should know that black-body radiation is the radiation emitted by a “perfect” emitter. Apply the concept of emissivity to

compare the emission rates from the different surfaces. Define surface heat capacity Cs.


_______________ Fossil Fuels: Outline the historical and geographical reasons for the

widespread use of fossil fuels. Discuss the energy density of fossil fuels with respect to the demands of power stations. Discuss the relative advantages and

disadvantages associated with the transportation and storage of fossil fuels. State the overall efficiency of power stations fuelled by different fossil fuels. Describe the environmental problems associated with the recovery of fossil fuels and their use in power stations.