Energy Sources and Related Information +

(concern over the environmental impact of burning fossil fuels has resulted in looking for alternative fuels that are less polluting)

Renewable energy sources like wind, solar, geothermal, hydrogen and biomass play an important role in the future of our world

Tomorrow's generation of automobiles and trucks will have to be cleaner and much more efficient if the United States, and the world, is to strengthen its energy security and continue to improve its environment.

acid mine drainage
A reference to water pollution that results when sulfur-bearing minerals associated with coal are exposed to air and water and form sulfuric acid and ferrous sulfate.

The ferrous sulfate can further react to form ferric hydroxide, or "yellowboy", a yellow-orange iron precipitate found in streams and rivers polluted by acid mine drainage.

acid rain
Also known as "acid precipitation" or "acid deposition", acid rain is precipitation containing harmful amounts of nitric and sulfuric acids formed primarily by sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides released into the atmosphere when fossil fuels are burned.

It can be wet precipitation (rain, snow, or fog) or dry precipitation (absorbed gaseous and particulate matter, aerosol particles or dust).

Acid rain has a pH below 5.6. Normal rain has a pH of about 5.6, which is slightly acidic. The term pH is a measure of acidity or alkalinity and ranges from 0 to 14.

A pH measurement of 7 is regarded as neutral. Measurements below 7 indicate increased acidity, while those above indicate increased alkalinity.

active solar energy
As an energy source, such energy comes from the sun collected and stored using mechanical pumps or fans to circulate heat-laden fluids or air between solar collectors and a building.
alternative fuels
A variety of alternative fuels include:
  • Methanol.
  • Denatured ethanol, and other alcohols.
  • Fuel mixtures containing 85 percent or more by volume of methanol, denatured ethanol, and other alcohols with gasoline or other fuels; such as, natural gas.
  • Liquefied petroleum gas (propane).
  • Hydrogen.
  • Coal-derived liquid fuels.
  • Fuels (other than alcohol) derived from biological materials (biofuels; such as, soy diesel fuel).
  • Electricity (including electricity from solar energy).
alternative-fuel vehicle (AFV)
A vehicle designed to operate on an alternative fuel; for example, compressed natural gas, methane blend, and electricity.

The vehicle could be either a dedicated vehicle designed to operate exclusively on alternative fuel or a nondedicated vehicle designed to operate on alternative fuel and/or a traditional fuel.

That which is made, or generated, by a human or caused by human activity.

The term is used in the context of global climate change to refer to gaseous emissions that are the result of human activities, as well as other potentially climate-altering activities; such as, deforestation.

appliance, appliances
A piece of equipment, commonly powered by electricity, used to perform a particular energy-driven function.

Examples of common appliances include refrigerators, clothes washers and dishwashers, conventional ranges/ovens and microwave ovens, humidifiers and dehumidifiers, toasters, radios, and televisions.

Appliances are ordinarily self-contained with respect to their functions; however, equipment such as central heating and air conditioning systems and water heaters, which are connected to distribution systems inherent to their purposes, are not considered appliances.

bi-fuel vehicle
A motor vehicle that operates on two different fuels, but not on a mixture of the fuels.

Each fuel is stored in a separate tank.

biodiesel fuel
Any liquid biofuel suitable as a diesel fuel substitute or diesel fuel additive or extender.

Biodiesel fuels are typically made from oils; such as, soybeans, rapeseed, or sunflowers, or from animal tallow.

Biodiesel fuel can also be made from hydrocarbons derived from agricultural products: such as, rice hulls.

Bioenergy technologies use renewable biomass resources to produce an array of energy related products including electricity, liquid, solid, and gaseous fuels, heat, chemicals, and other materials.

Bioenergy ranks second (to hydropower) in renewable primary energy production and accounts for three percent of the primary energy production in the United States.

Biomass offers tremendous opportunities to use domestic and sustainable resources to provide fuel, power, and chemical needs from plants and plant-derived materials; that is, if such production does not interfere with the eating needs of global populations.

The term biomass means any plant derived organic matter available on a renewable basis, including dedicated energy crops and trees, agricultural food and feed crops, agricultural crop wastes and residues, wood wastes and residues, aquatic plants, animal wastes, municipal wastes, and other waste materials.

1. Liquid fuels and blending components produced from biomass feed-stocks, used primarily for transportation.
2. A type of solid, gaseous, or liquid fuel, made without using petroleum; which can be used in an ordinary internal combustion engine.

Biofuels can be produced from such things as sugar cane and vegetable oil.

1. The dry weight of living organic matter in a particular ecosystem.

Units are grams of organic matter per square meter.

2. Plant-derived material usable as a renewable energy source, including wood energy crops; such as, hybrid poplars and willow trees, agricultural crops including soybeans and corn, and animal and other wastes.

Biomass is one of the two most common energy sources in the U.S. today, along with hydropower. Forms of biomass; such as, wood can be burned to produce heat and generate electricity.

Agricultural crops can be chemically converted into fuels; such as, ethanol and biodiesel; these are the only known renewable liquid energy sources, and may one day replace petroleum and fossil-fuel.

biomass waste
Organic non-fossil material of biological origin that is a byproduct or a discarded product.

Biomass waste includes municipal solid waste from biogenic sources, landfill gas, sludge waste, agricultural crop byproducts, straw, and other biomass solids, liquids, and gases; but it excludes wood and wood-derived fuels (including black liquor), biofuels feedstock, biodiesel, and fuel ethanol.

It should be noted that some so-called biomass waste also includes energy crops grown specifically for energy production, which would not normally be considered waste.

A physical barrier constructed across a river or waterway to control the flow of or raise the level of water.

The purpose of construction may be for flood control, irrigation needs, hydroelectric power production, and/or recreation usage.

electric energy
The ability of an electric current to produce work, heat, light, or other forms of energy.

Electric energy is measured in kilowatt hours.

—Based on and compiled from information located in the
"Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy";
"Energy Sources"; U.S. Department of Energy.

Index of additional Scientific and Technological Topics.

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