The National Academies

The National Academies: What You Need To Know About Energy

What You Need To Know About Energy

What do you know about energy?

On average, which is most efficient in coverting heat into electic power?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    On average, a typical coal-burning power plant in 2013 was about 33% efficient in converting heat energy into electrical power. A gas-fired plant was about 42% efficient. And in natural gas combined-cycle power plants—in which waste heat from a natural gas turbine is used to power a steam turbine—generation may be as much as 60% efficient.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    On average, a typical coal-burning power plant in 2013 was about 33% efficient in converting heat energy into electrical power. A gas-fired plant was about 42% efficient. And in natural gas combined-cycle power plants—in which waste heat from a natural gas turbine is used to power a steam turbine—generation may be as much as 60% efficient.

  • Correct!

    On average, a typical coal-burning power plant in 2013 was about 33% efficient in converting heat energy into electrical power. A gas-fired plant was about 42% efficient. And in natural gas combined-cycle power plants—in which waste heat from a natural gas turbine is used to power a steam turbine—generation may be as much as 60% efficient.

Which has been growing more, energy used by lighting and appliances or energy used for heating and cooling?

  • Correct!

    For decades, more than half of all residential energy use went  to space heating and cooling; in 1993, it accounted for nearly 60%. But EIA data show that by 2009, that share had dropped to 48%. And in the period 1993 to 2009, energy for appliances, electronics, and lighting rose from 24% to 35%, owing to the proliferation of appliances, as well as trends toward larger TVs and other devices.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    For decades, more than half of all residential energy use went  to space heating and cooling; in 1993, it accounted for nearly 60%. But EIA data show that by 2009, that share had dropped to 48%. And in the period 1993 to 2009, energy for appliances, electronics, and lighting rose from 24% to 35%, owing to the proliferation of appliances, as well as trends toward larger TVs and other devices.

What is the largest reservoir of stored solar energy?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Fossil fuels represent the largest source of stored solar energy, resulting from the transformation of biomass over millions of years into oil, natural gas and coal. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Fossil fuels represent the largest source of stored solar energy, resulting from the transformation of biomass over millions of years into oil, natural gas and coal. 

  • Correct!

    Fossil fuels represent the largest source of stored solar energy, resulting from the transformation of biomass over millions of years into oil, natural gas and coal. 

How are battery electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles different?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Battery electric vehicles have only a motor and battery, they recharge from the grid and their carbon emissions depend on the energy used to generate the electricity they use. Hybrid vehicles have both a gasoline engine and an electric motor, and use petroleum onboard when their batteries are exhausted. Some hybrid vehicles can charge from the grid and others cannot. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Battery electric vehicles have only a motor and battery, they recharge from the grid and their carbon emissions depend on the energy used to generate the electricity they use. Hybrid vehicles have both a gasoline engine and an electric motor, and use petroleum onboard when their batteries are exhausted. Some hybrid vehicles can charge from the grid and others cannot. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Battery electric vehicles have only a motor and battery, they recharge from the grid and their carbon emissions depend on the energy used to generate the electricity they use. Hybrid vehicles have both a gasoline engine and an electric motor, and use petroleum onboard when their batteries are exhausted. Some hybrid vehicles can charge from the grid and others cannot. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Battery electric vehicles have only a motor and battery, they recharge from the grid and their carbon emissions depend on the energy used to generate the electricity they use. Hybrid vehicles have both a gasoline engine and an electric motor, and use petroleum onboard when their batteries are exhausted. Some hybrid vehicles can charge from the grid and others cannot. 

  • Correct!

    Battery electric vehicles have only a motor and battery, they recharge from the grid and their carbon emissions depend on the energy used to generate the electricity they use. Hybrid vehicles have both a gasoline engine and an electric motor, and use petroleum onboard when their batteries are exhausted. Some hybrid vehicles can charge from the grid and others cannot. 

How many gallons of water are required to hydraulically fracture a well, on average in the U.S.?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The national average is around 1.5 million gallons per well , according to the EPA.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The national average is around 1.5 million gallons per well , according to the EPA.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The national average is around 1.5 million gallons per well , according to the EPA.

  • Correct!

    The national average is around 1.5 million gallons per well , according to the EPA.

If electricity production wastes between 40 and 65% of the primary energy source, why is it used?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Most direct uses of primary energy are limited to generating heat and motion. Electricity, by contrast, is extremely versatile, with a wide range of complex applications. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Most direct uses of primary energy are limited to generating heat and motion. Electricity, by contrast, is extremely versatile, with a wide range of complex applications. 

  • Correct!

    Most direct uses of primary energy are limited to generating heat and motion. Electricity, by contrast, is extremely versatile, with a wide range of complex applications. 

True or false? Fuel cells store energy.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Fuel cells are an efficient way to convert hydrogen to electricity, but the energy is stored in the hydrogen.

  • Correct!

    Fuel cells are an efficient way to convert hydrogen to electricity, but the energy is stored in the hydrogen.

Which of the following is emitted by coal-fired power plants?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the above are emitted from coal-fired power plants and can be harmful to our health and the environment.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the above are emitted from coal-fired power plants and can be harmful to our health and the environment.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the above are emitted from coal-fired power plants and can be harmful to our health and the environment.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the above are emitted from coal-fired power plants and can be harmful to our health and the environment.

  • Correct!

    All of the above are emitted from coal-fired power plants and can be harmful to our health and the environment.

Which of the following is considered an obstacle to cars running on hydrogen fuel cells?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the reasons mentioned are considered obstacles to producing cars that run on hydrogen fuel cells.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the reasons mentioned are considered obstacles to producing cars that run on hydrogen fuel cells.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the reasons mentioned are considered obstacles to producing cars that run on hydrogen fuel cells.

  • Correct!

    All of the reasons mentioned are considered obstacles to producing cars that run on hydrogen fuel cells.

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The process of pumping fluid under pressure underground to fracture rock containing oil or gas. Hydraulic fracturing creates fissures that increase the surface area in order to allow greater quantities of hydrocarbons to flow out of a reservoir.

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