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APES Ch. 13 Vocab

Achieving Energy Sustainability - AP Environmental Science, Chapter 13

TermDefinition
Nonrenewable resources Materials that are being depleted much faster than they can be replenished
Potentially renewable resources Materials that can be regenerated rapidly and can be renewed as long as we don't consume them more quickly than they can be replenished
Nondepletable resources Sources that cannot be depleted within a human lifespan, no matter how much we use them (solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, and tidal energy)
Renewable resources Potentially renewable and nondepletable resources
Tiered rate system Customers pay a low rate for the first increment of energy they use and pay higher rates as their use goes up
Peak demand The greatest quantity of energy used at any one time - can be several times the overall demand, and electric companies often keep backup sources of energy available, primarily natural gas-fired generators
Passive solar heating A technique that takes advantage of natural solar radiation to achieve desired temperatures
Thermal inertia The ability of a material to retain heat or cold
Biofuels Liquid fuels such as ethanol or biodiesel that are produced by processing or refining biomass - used in limited quantity because of the demands associated with their production
Carbon neutral An activity that does not change atmospheric CO2 concentrations
Net removal Removing more timber than is replaced by growth - can contribute to increased atmospheric CO2 levels because the CO2 released in burning is not balanced by the carbon fixation of trees
Ethanol A biofuel and an alcohol that can be used as a substitute for gasoline, made by converting starches and sugars from plant material into alcohol and CO2 - 90% of U.S. production comes from corn and corn by-products
Biodiesel A substitute for regular petroleum diesel, produced by extracting oil from algae and plants such as soybean and palm
Flex-fuel vehicles Can run on either gasoline or E-85 (85% ethanol and 15% gasoline)
Hydroelectricity Electricity generated by the kinetic energy of moving water, the second most common form of renewable energy in the U.S. and the world - in the U.S., it accounts for 7% of the electricity generated, and over half comes from the West Coast
Siltation The accumulation of sediments on the bottom of a reservoir
Photovoltaic solar cells Capture energy from the sun as light and convert it directly into electricity, 12-20% efficient, make use of the fact that certain semiconductors generate a low-voltage electric current when exposed to light - this can be converted to higher-voltage AC
Geothermal energy Heat that comes form the natural radioactive decay of chemicals deep within Earth - convection currents in the mantle bring hot magma toward the surface, heating groundwater when it comes close enough (the U.S., China, + Iceland are the largest producers)
Wind energy Energy from the movement of the wind - Denmark obtains more than 21% of its energy through wind
Wind turbine A device that converts the kinetic energy of moving air into electricity - produces electricity 25% of the time under average conditions and can produce 4.4 million kWh per year
Fuel cell A device that operates much like a common battery, but reactants are added continuously
Electrolysis A process in which an electric current is applied to water to split it into hydrogen and oxygen
Created by: emilyjane1221