Quiz: What You Don't Know About Energy Vocabulary


Photograph by Stanley K Patz, Getty Images

You probably know words such as fracking and hydroelectricity, but how well do you really know the language that helps describe our energy landscape?

Quiz by Christina Nunez

Bitumen describes

  • A drilling implement
  • Tar
  • A byproduct of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking
  • Acid

Bitumen is a mixture of hydrocarbons also known as tar or asphalt. Naturally occurring bitumen is a source of "unconventional" oil produced from Canada's tar sands. (See related story: "A Quest to Clean Up Canada's Oil Sands Carbon")

Lumens are a measure of

  • Electric power
  • Brightness
  • Color temperature
  • Heat

Lumens measure brightness. A 100-watt incandescent light bulb produces a minimum of 1,600 lumens. (See related interactive: "Light Bulb Savings Calculator")

A passive house

  • does not require any lighting
  • uses only wood heat
  • is always located near public transportation to minimize fuel use
  • uses little or no energy for heating and cooling

The passive house standard is designed to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature using superior insulation, ventilation, and other techniques for maximizing efficiency.

A flywheel is used

  • To lengthen the life of a car's tires
  • To grind flour in energy-poor areas
  • To store energy
  • To cool nuclear equipment

A flywheel is a disk or cylinder that, when connected to a motor, stores energy. The wheel converts surplus energy from the motor into kinetic energy; the faster it spins, the more energy it holds. When energy is needed, it can be taken out by slowing the flywheel. (See related story: "Upgrading the Electric Grid With Flywheels and Air"

CSP typically stands for

  • concentrating solar power
  • cascading shortage of power
  • carbon storage pond
  • captive supplier of petroleum

Concentrating solar power (CSP) technologies use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers that collect solar energy and convert it to heat. The heat is then used to produce electricity by turning a steam turbine or driving a heat engine. (For an example, see "Pictures: Spanish Solar Energy")

Mercaptan is

  • Oil that is obtained from deepwater drilling
  • One of the fluids used in fracking
  • A fitting on a wind turbine
  • An additive to natural gas

Mercaptan is a chemical with a sulfurous smell that is added to natural gas, which is odorless, as a safety measure so consumers can detect leaks.

A BTU, or British Thermal Unit, measures

  • The amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
  • The amount of energy produced by one liter of gasoline
  • The amount of electricity needed to heat one liter of water to 180 degrees
  • The amount of heat generated by burning one pound of wood

One BTU heats a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

CHP typically stands for

  • Cooling and heating processes
  • Coal heat production
  • Combined heat and power
  • Catalytic hydrocracking performance

A combined heat and power, or CHP plant, produces both heat and electricity from the same source. (See related story: "KPMG Captures Heat for Data Center Cooling")

An ampere measures

  • Electric current
  • Resistance to the flow of an electric current
  • Brightness
  • Heat

An ampere, or amp for short, is a unit of measure for the amount of electric current flowing at a force of one volt and a resistance of one ohm.

A Christmas tree is a nickname for

  • An array of valves, pipes and other equipment at the top of an oil or gas well
  • A tangle of transmitters and wiring at the top of a utility pole
  • A tool used in the processing of coal
  • A marker used to designate an oil or gas drilling site

A Christmas tree is the system of fittings at the top of a well to control the flow of oil or gas to pipelines.

Coke breeze is a term for

  • The greenhouse gas emissions from coal plants
  • The smoke that emerges from the production of coke from coal
  • Bits of coke sized half an inch or smaller
  • The heat emitted by vending machines

Coke breeze is fine coke, a small particle of the carbon residue produced from coal and used as fuel and for steel production.

GTL typically stands for

  • Generator transmission line
  • Gallon to liter
  • Global transportation load
  • Gas to liquids

GTL typically refers to gas to liquids, or the conversion of natural gas to petroleum products such as diesel fuel.





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