National Teacher Enhancement Project

Middle School Home Energy Audit

INTERACTIVE GLOSSARY


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A

AMPERES: A quantity of electricity flowing in a electrical current.

ANTHRACITE: A hard, jet black substance with a high luster. It is the highest rank of coal, almost purely carbon. It is primarily mined in northeast Pennsylvania.

ASSOCIATED GAS: Gas combined with oil. Known also as gas cap gas and solution gas, it provides the force (also called the drive mechanism) needed to force oil to the surface of a well. Associated gas is normally present in an oil reservoir in the early stages of production.

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B

BARREL: The standard unit of measure of liquids in the oil industry; it contains 42 U.S. standard gallons.

BATTERY: A device to make or store energy.

BASIN: A depression of the earth's surface into which the sediments that can form oil and natural gas are deposited; a broad area of the earth beneath which layers of rock are inclined, usually from the sides toward the center.

BITUMINOUS COAL: Most common type of solid fossil fuel. It is soft, dense, and black with well defined bands of bright and dull material. It is mined chiefly east of the Mississippi River.

BIOMASS: A renewable energy that is any organic matter that can be used as energy.

BLOWOUT: An uncontrolled flow of gas, oil, or other fluids from a well into the air. A well may blow out when pressure deep in the reservoir exceeds the weight of the column of drilling fluid inside the well hole.

BLOWOUT PREVENTER: A special assembly of heavy-duty valves installed on top of a well which can be closed to prevent high-pressure oil or gas from escaping (a blowout) from the well hole during drilling operations.

BOILER: A tank in which water is heated by burning a fuel like coal, natural gas, or oil to produce steam for spinning a steam turbine to generate electricity or for use in a variety of industrial manufacturing processes.

BOREHOLE: The hole in the earth made by the drill; the uncased drill hole from the surface to the bottom of the well.

Btu (BRITISH THERMAL UNIT): A standard unit for measuring the quantity of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water by 1 degree F.

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C

CARBON DIOXIDE: A colorless, odorless gas that is produced when animals (including humans) breathe or when carbon-containing materials (including fossil fuels) are burned. Carbon dioxide is essential to the photosynthesis process that sustains plant and animal life, however, it can accumulate in the air and trap heat near the Earth's surface (the "greenhouse effect").

CASING: Steel pipe used in oil wells to seal off fluids in the rocks from the bore hole and to prevent the walls of the hole from caving.

CIRCUIT: A route around which an electrical current can flow, beginning and ending at the same point.

CHEMICAL REACTION: The rearrangement of atoms by the making and breaking of covalent bonds.

CLEAN COAL TECHNOLOGIES: New ways to burn or use coal that significantly reduce the release of pollutants and offer greater environmental protection and, often, better economic performance than older coal technologies.

COAL: A black or brownish-black solid combustive substance formed by the partial decomposition of vegetable matter without access to air.

COKE: A hard, dry carbon substances produced by heating coal to a very high temperature in the absence of air. Coke is used in the manufacture of iron and steel.

COMBUSTOR: The part of a boiler or a turbine in which fuel is burned.

COMPACT FLUORESCENT LIGHTS (CFL): Lights or bulbs that do no have filaments but gas which sends out an electric current and uses less energy that incandescent or halogen lights.

CRUDE OIL: Unrefined petroleum that reaches the surface of the ground in a liquid state.

CURRENT: The flow of electrons - the number of electrons flowing past a fixed point. Measured in amperes.

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D

DIRECTIONAL DRILLING: The technique of drilling at an angle from the vertical by deflecting the drill bit. Directional wells are often drilled to reach an oil- or gas-bearing reservoir where drilling cannot be done, such as beneath a shipping lane in the ocean. Directional drilling is being used increasingly to intersect reservoirs at angles that exposes more of the rock to the wellbore and increases the amount of oil or gas that flows into the well.

DRAGLINE: A coal mining machine that uses a bucket operated and suspended by lines or cables, one of which lowers the bucket from the boom; the other, from which the name of the machine is derived, allows the bucket to swing out from the machine or to be dragged toward the machine to remove the ground above a coal seam (called overburden).

DRILL CUTTINGS: Chips and small fragments of drilled rock that are brought to the surface by the flow of the drilling mud as it is circulated.

DRILL PIPE: Heavy, thick walled, hollow steel pipe used in rotary drilling to turn the drill bit and to provide a conduit for the drilling mud.

DRILLING: The process of boring deep into the earth's crust to access underground liquid resources such as oil and water.

DRILLING MUD: A special mixture of clay, water, or refined oil, and chemical additives pumped downhole through the drill pipe and drill bit. The mud cools the rapidly rotating bit; lubricates the drill pipe as it turns in the well bore; carries rock cuttings to the surface; serves as a plaster to prevent the wall of the borehole from crumbling or collapsing; and provides the weight or hydrostatic head to prevent extraneous fluids from entering the well bore and to control downhole pressures that may be encountered.

DRY HOLE: A well drilled to a certain depth without finding commercially exploitable hydrocarbons.

DRY GAS: Natural gas from the well that is free of liquid hydrocarbons; gas that has been treated to remove all liquids making it suitable for shipping in a pipeline.

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E

ELECTRICITY: The energy associated with moving electrons. (Measured in kilowatt - hours = kWh)

ELECTRON: The tiny negatively charged particles of an atom that move around the nucleus of an atom.

ELECTROSTATIC PRECIPITATOR: An electrically charged device for removing fine particles (fly ash) from combustion gases prior to the release from a power plant's stack. The device passes combustion gases through positively and negatively charged plates that attract the tiny particles using static electricity.

ENERGY: The ability to do work. Work involves a change in movement. Energy is, therefore, the ability to cause change. Measured in joules (J).

ENERGYGUIDE: A label (Energy Efficiency Rating) on the appliance the manufacturer places there to inform the consumer about the appliance. Some of the information on it is amount of energy the appliance will use on average in a year, and it's comparison to similar models, and the estimated yearly energy cost.

EXPLORATION: The process of searching for minerals, like oil and gas, before development and production. Exploration activities include (1) geophysical surveys, (2) drilling to locate an oil or gas reservoir, and (3) the drilling of additional wells after a discovery to determine the boundaries of an underground reservoir. It enables an oil or gas company to determine whether to proceed with development and production.

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F

FISSION: The process of splitting of atoms into smaller atoms releasing energy.

FLUIDIZED BED COMBUSTION: An advanced way of burning crushed coal (or other fuels) by suspending the coal on a upward stream of hot air. In the fluid-like mixing process, limestone can be injected into the "bed" (floating layer) of coal to absorb sulfur pollutants before they can escape out the smokestack. The mixing process also lowers the temperature of the burning coal below the point where nitrogen oxides, another pollutant, are formed.

FOSSIL FUEL: Any naturally occurring fuel of an organic nature formed by the decomposition of plants or animals; includes coal, natural gas, and petroleum.

FIELD: A geographical area in which one or more oil or gas wells produce. A single field may include several reservoirs separated either horizontally or vertically.

FORCE: A push or pull that gives energy to an object, causing it to start moving, stop or change direction.

FUSION: The process of releasing energy when atoms of smaller elements are combined into a large atom.

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G

GASIFICATION: A group of processes that turn coal into a combustible gas by breaking apart the coal using heat and pressure and, in many cases, with hot steam.

GENERATOR: An apparatus for producing electricity from gas, coal, etc.

GEOTHERMAL: A renewable resource that uses the earth's heat to produce energy.

GREENHOUSE EFFECT: The warming of the Earth's surface and lower atmosphere caused by the trapping of radiated heat, much the same way the coated window panes of a agricultural greenhouse keep heat inside the greenhouse. Several gases, like carbon dioxide and methane, can keep heat from escaping from the Earth into space and are called "greenhouse gases."

GREENHOUSE GASES: Atmospheric gases that contribute to the greenhouse effect by trapping heat in the atmosphere.

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H

HALOGEN:  Used to describe lamps or heat sources having a filament surrounded by halogen vapor( fluorine, chlorine, iodine, bromine, or astatine)

HYDROCARBONS: A class of compounds containing hydrogen and carbon formed by the decomposition of plant and animal remains. These compounds include coal, oil, natural gas, and other substances occurring in rocks.

HYDROPOWER: A renewable energy that uses the kinetic energy of moving water molecules and then converts the energy to another form.

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I

INCANDESCENT: A light bulb that has a filament. The word means burns with a bright light.

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J

JOULE(J): One joule is the amount of work required to exert a force of one newton through a distance of one meter.

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K

KILOWATT HOUR(kWh): Unit used to describe the power produced by an energy source; one kWh equals 1000 watts sustained for one hour.

KINETIC ENERGY: Energy possessed in a moving object.

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L

LIQUEFACTION: Processes that convert coal into a liquid fuel, similar in nature to crude oil and/or refined products.

LIGNITE: The lowest rank of coal, which is brownish-black and has a high moisture content. Used mainly to generate electricity, it is mined in Montana, North Dakota, and Texas.

LOAD: A device that does work or places a demand for power in an electrical circuit.

LUMEN: A measure of light intensity.

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M

MAGNET: An object that does not have even scattering or distribution of electrons.

MAGNETIC FIELD: The forces between the ends of a magnet and the flow of electrons from the North and South Poles.

MECHANICAL: Operated by or using a machine or mechanism.

METALLURGICAL COAL: The type of coal which is converted to coke for use in manufacturing steel; often referred to as coking coal.

METHANE: A colorless, odorless gas that is the most simple of the hydrocarbons formed naturally from the decay of organic matter. Each methane molecule contains a carbon atom surrounded by four hydrogen atoms. It is the principal component of natural gas.

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N

NATURAL GAS: A mixture of gaseous hydrocarbons, composed primarily of methane, occurring naturally in the Earth - often among petroleum deposits - that is used as a fuel.

NEWTON: A standard unit of force. One newton is equal to 1 kg accelerated at 9.8 m/(sxs).

NONRENEWABLE RESOURCE: Resource that cannot be made a short amount of time.

NUCLEAR ENERGY: Energy released by changing the bond of an atom.

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O

OIL PRODUCTS: Products ready for consumption through the processing of crude oil and natural gas. Refined products include jet fuel, kerosene, waxes, asphalt, motor gasoline, petrochemical feed stocks, lubricants, etc.

OUTER CONTINENTAL SHELF(OCS): All submerged lands seaward and outside the area of lands beneath navigable waters. Lands beneath navigable waters are interpreted as extending from the coastline 3 nautical miles into the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Arctic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico excluding the coastal waters off Texas and western Florida.

OVERBURDEN: Layers of earth and rock covering a coal seam. In surface mining operations, overburden is removed using large equipment and is either used to backfill areas previously mined or is hauled to dumping areas.

OZONE: A bluish, toxic gas with a pungent odor formed by three oxygen atoms rather than the usual two. Ozone occurs in the stratosphere and plays a role in filtering out ultraviolet radiation from the sun's rays. At ground level ozone is a major component of smog.

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P

PEAT: A dark brown or black deposit resulting from the partial decomposition of vegetative matter in marshes and swamps.

PETROLEUM: A term applied to crude oil and oil products in all forms.

PHANTOM LOAD: The amount of electricity an appliance draws even when it is turned of. Load = a device that does work.

PHOTOVOLTAIC CELL (P. V.): A solar cell that is made up of silcon and converts sunlight into an electric current. Usually used in a panel or system.

POTENTIAL ENERGY: Energy of position; energy stored for use such as chemical energy stored in matter.

POWER: The rate of doing work or the amount of work done in a given time. The unit of power is the watt (W).

PROPANE: A fossil fuel that is usually found in the mixture of natural gas; hydrocarbon molecule consisting of a three carbon chain.

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Q

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R

RENEWABLE: An energy source that we can grow in a short amount of time.

RESERVES IN PLACE: The amount of oil or gas physically contained in a reservoir (a place - usually totally underground -where oil or natural gas has collected naturally over millions of years). The "proved reserves" may only be 15 to 35 percent of the "reserves in place."

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S

SCRUBBER: A device that removes gaseous pollutants from the combustion gases of burning fuels, typically by spraying into the gases a mixture of water and special chemicals (like lime or limestone) that will absorb the pollutants. Scrubbers are primarily used to remove sulfur pollutants from the combustion gases of coal burning.

SOLAR: A renewable resource that uses the sun's energy to convert to another form of energy.

STATIC ELECTRICITY: The streaming of electrons from one object to another.

SUB BITUMINOUS COAL: A dull, black coal often referred to as black lignite. It is used for generating electricity and space heating. It ranks between bituminous and lignite and is mined in the western U.S.

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T

THERMAL: Of or pertaining to heat energy.

THERMODYNAMICS, FIRST LAW OF: Energy and matter can neither be created or destroyed by ordinary means. Energy and matter CAN change form in chemical and physical reactions.

TRANSMISSION LINES: Lines where electons flow at high voltage from the step-up transformer to the step-down transformers and into a place that uses electricity.

TURBINE: A machine that has propeller-like blades which can be moved by flowing gas (such as steam or combustion gases) to spin a rotor in a generator to produce electricity.

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U

UL: This abbreviation means Underwriters Laboratory that test products for standards including safety standards.

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V

VOLTAGE: Electric potential or pressure - the energy available to move electrons (measured as volts = V).

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W

WATT: Unit of electric power; the number of electrons moving past a fixed point in one(1) multiplied by the potential (or push) of the electrons (W = A x V).

WATTAGE: Maximum power drawn by an appliance. It is usually found on the nameplate of the appliance. Wattage = current X voltage.

WELL: A hole drilled or bored into the earth, usually cased with metal pipe, for the production of gas or oil. A hole for the injection under pressure of water or gas into a subsurface rock formation.

WIND MACHINE OR MILL: A machine that has a blade which is pushed by the winds energy converting it into another form of energy.

WORK: The product of a force applied to an object and the distance through which the force is applied. Work equals force times distance (W = F x D).

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X

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Z

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Created for the NTEP II Fermilab LInC program sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office and Friends of Fermilab, and funded by United States Department of Energy, Illinois State Board of Education, North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium which is operated by North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL), and the National Science Foundation.

 

Authors: Sue Emmons, Powell Middle School, Littleton, CO; Kevin Lindauer, John F. Kennedy High School, Denver, CO; Linda Lung, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, CO; John Sepich, Scott Carpenter Middle School, Westminster, CO; ; Janet Stellema, Monarch K-8, Louisville, CO.
Created: September 9, 1998 - Updated: June 29, 2001.
URL: http://www-ed.fnal.gov/ntep/f98/projects/nrel_energy/glossary.html