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?

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. 

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: Burning coal in electric power plants is a major source of CO2 and other emissions. However, its use doesn't have negative consequences beyond the emissions caused by combustion.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    Mining coal disturbs the land and modifies the chemistry of rainwater runoff, which in turn affects stream and river water quality.

  • Correct!

    Mining coal disturbs the land and modifies the chemistry of rainwater runoff, which in turn affects stream and river water quality.

What percentage of harvested corn was used to produce ethanol in the U.S. in 2014?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, about 38% of harvested corn in the US went to make ethanol and its associated coproducts

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, about 38% of harvested corn in the US went to make ethanol and its associated coproducts

  • Correct!

    In 2014, about 38% of harvested corn in the US went to make ethanol and its associated coproducts

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, about 38% of harvested corn in the US went to make ethanol and its associated coproducts

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, about 38% of harvested corn in the US went to make ethanol and its associated coproducts

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, about 38% of harvested corn in the US went to make ethanol and its associated coproducts

The United States is home to how many of the world's automobiles?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    With less than 5% of the world's population, the United States is home to one-third of the world's automobiles.

  • Correct!

    With less than 5% of the world's population, the United States is home to one-third of the world's automobiles.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    With less than 5% of the world's population, the United States is home to one-third of the world's automobiles.

What type of transportation uses the most total energy?

  • Correct!

    By far the largest share of energy in transportation is consumed by cars, light trucks, and motorcycles—about 58% in 2012, followed by other trucks (21%), aircraft (9%), boats and ships (3%), and trains and buses (3%). Pipelines account for 3% and military uses for 2%.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    By far the largest share of energy in transportation is consumed by cars, light trucks, and motorcycles—about 58% in 2012, followed by other trucks (21%), aircraft (9%), boats and ships (3%), and trains and buses (3%). Pipelines account for 3% and military uses for 2%.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    By far the largest share of energy in transportation is consumed by cars, light trucks, and motorcycles—about 58% in 2012, followed by other trucks (21%), aircraft (9%), boats and ships (3%), and trains and buses (3%). Pipelines account for 3% and military uses for 2%.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    By far the largest share of energy in transportation is consumed by cars, light trucks, and motorcycles—about 58% in 2012, followed by other trucks (21%), aircraft (9%), boats and ships (3%), and trains and buses (3%). Pipelines account for 3% and military uses for 2%.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    By far the largest share of energy in transportation is consumed by cars, light trucks, and motorcycles—about 58% in 2012, followed by other trucks (21%), aircraft (9%), boats and ships (3%), and trains and buses (3%). Pipelines account for 3% and military uses for 2%.

Renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, biofuels, waste, and wood) accounted for what percentage of the total energy supply in the United States in 2014?

  • Correct!

    In 2014, 10% of our total energy use came from renewable energy sources, such as biomass, wind, solar, and hydropower.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, 10% of our total energy use came from renewable energy sources, such as biomass, wind, solar, and hydropower.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, 10% of our total energy use came from renewable energy sources, such as biomass, wind, solar, and hydropower.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    In 2014, 10% of our total energy use came from renewable energy sources, such as biomass, wind, solar, and hydropower.

How efficient are ordinary commercial solar cell units?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    As of 2014, the very best experimental units could convert more than 40% of light energy to electricity; ordinary commercial units are in the range of 5% to 20%. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    As of 2014, the very best experimental units could convert more than 40% of light energy to electricity; ordinary commercial units are in the range of 5% to 20%. 

  • Correct!

    As of 2014, the very best experimental units could convert more than 40% of light energy to electricity; ordinary commercial units are in the range of 5% to 20%. 

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    As of 2014, the very best experimental units could convert more than 40% of light energy to electricity; ordinary commercial units are in the range of 5% to 20%. 

Which of the following is frequently used as a unit of measurement for the energy content of fuels?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The British Thermal Unit, or Btu, is frequently used as a measure for energy content of fuels. One gallon of gasoline contains about 124,000 Btu.

  • Correct!

    The British Thermal Unit, or Btu, is frequently used as a measure for energy content of fuels. One gallon of gasoline contains about 124,000 Btu.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The British Thermal Unit, or Btu, is frequently used as a measure for energy content of fuels. One gallon of gasoline contains about 124,000 Btu.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    The British Thermal Unit, or Btu, is frequently used as a measure for energy content of fuels. One gallon of gasoline contains about 124,000 Btu.

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