The National Academies: What You Need To Know About Energy

The National Academies

What You Need To Know About Energy

Industrial Efficiency

Researchers are exploring ways to make industrial and manufacturing processes much more efficient. Industry accounts for about 31% of all energy consumption in the United States, more than any other sector of the economy. Seven energy-intensive industries use three-fourths of that power: aluminum, chemicals, forest products, glass, metal casting, mining, and steel. As a result, public/private-sector partnerships and research programs are focusing on those areas.

One of the prime targets is the chemical industry, which uses 29% of all fuel consumed in the U.S. industrial sector.

One of the prime targets is the chemical industry, which uses 29% of all fuel consumed in the U.S. industrial sector. There are more than 80,000 chemicals registered for use in the United States, and an estimated 2,000 new ones registered each year. Much of the fuel used by this industry comes from oil and natural gas, which are used both as energy sources for heat and as feedstocks, or raw materials, in the production of many chemicals. There are many opportunities to use energy more effectively in this industry, one being the processes used to separate chemicals and to enable chemical reactions.

The extraction and processing of mined materials, such as coal, consumes about 1.3 quads annually. In 2004, mining accounted for about 11% of the total energy consumed by the industrial sector and there are a variety of opportunities to improve the efficiency of mining operations. The equipment and processes used to search for and extract the ore, separate it from unwanted materials, and transport it all present opportunities for energy savings.

A similar effort is under way in analyzing the energy-intensive forest products industry. Researchers have identified enhanced raw materials, next-generation mill processes, improved fiber recycling, and wood processing as candidates for improvements in efficiency.

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Energy Hands-on

What do you know about energy?

Renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, biofuels, waste, and wood) accounted for what percentage of the total energy supply in the United States in 2008?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Renewable energy accounted for 7% of the total U.S. energy supply in 2008, less than any other type of energy source.

  • Correct!

    Renewable energy accounted for 7% of the total U.S. energy supply in 2008, less than any other type of energy source.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Renewable energy accounted for 7% of the total U.S. energy supply in 2008, less than any other type of energy source.

Energy Defined

Kilowatt Hour (kWh)

A unit of measure for energy, typically applied to electricity usage. It is equal to the amount of energy used at a rate of 1000 watts over the course of one hour. One kWh is roughly equal to 3,412 British Thermal Units (Btu).

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National Academies Press

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