LED (light-emitting diode)
consumes 90% less energy & lasts 100x's longer than ordinary lightbulbs
The percentage of energy put into a system that does useful work
simultaneous production of electricity and steam in the same facility
hybrid gasoline-electric engine
battery-powered electric motor with a small gasoline engine to help accelerate and/or recharge battery
electric motor that can be recharged, can travel up to 40 miles on 1 overnight charge
The use of building materials by design to keep a building warm or cool
the use of devices, such as solar panels, to collect, focus, transport, or store solar energy.
Cells, usually made of specially-treated silicon, that transfer solar energy from the sun to electrical energy
insulated box that can be used for heating and cooking in developing countries, costs a few dollars
Allowing customers of utilities to voluntarily pay more for electricity that comes from renewable sources
amorphous silicon collectors
noncrytalline silicon semiconductors that can be made into lightweight, paper-think sheets that require much less material than conventional photovoltaic cells
produces electricity chemically by combining hydrogen fuel with oxygen from air
an apparatus that reforms the molecular structure of hydrocarbons to produce richer fuel
total amount of living tissue within a given trophic level
fecal matter of animals
A diesel-equivalent, processed fuel derived from biological sources (such as vegetable oils), that can be used in unmodified diesel-engine vehicles.
a plastic made from cellulose (or a derivative of cellulose)
can burn variable mixtures of ethanol and gasoline
can be grown specifically as an energy source of marginal land, such as switch grass, cattails, and hybrid poplar
low-input high-diversity biofuels
mixed polycultures of perennial native species with a lot of biomass
low-head hydro power
small-scale headwater dam that causes less damage than larger projects
small generator to provide economical power for a single home that is near a perennial stream or river
energy derived from the heat in the interior of the earth
ocean thermal electric conversion
heat from sun-warmed upper ocean layers is used to evaporate a working fluid (ammonia or Freon, low boiling points), use the gas to spin turbines
rotary engine in which the kinetic energy of a moving fluid is converted into mechanical energy by causing a bladed rotor to rotate
Cluster of wind turbines grouped together to produce a large amount of electricity
force x distance
rate at which work is done
the capacity to do work
the SI unit of energy
fuel consisting of the remains of organisms preserved in rocks in the earth's crust with high carbon and hydrogen content
An accurate estimate of how much of the resource can be extracted on an economic basis
black lung disease
a disease that is caused from years of inhaling coal dust
storing carbon in a natural sink or a geologic reservoir underground
a technology that converts dry coal into a liquid fuel to replace diesel and jet fuels. There are multiple methods, but the process proposed for use in the US would first use heat and pressure to gasify the coal, then cool the gas to form a liquid—an energy-intensive process.
controversial drilling grounds housing 3-8 billion oil barrels. 6-11 months supply for U.S. only; home to sensitive caribou calving grounds
a stratum of ore or coal thick enough to be mined with profit
Canada & Venezuela have the largest deposits; an underground sand deposit permeated with a thick, asphalt-like oil known as bitumen. The bitumen can be separated from the sand by heating.
a soft, fine-grained sedimentary rock from which oil and natural gas are obtained by heating; found in CO, UT, WY, and eastern US
an oily, dark-colored, flammable liquid found in the earth, consisting mainly of a mixture of various hydrocarbons. Gasoline, kerosene, fuel oil, paraffin, and lubricants are made from petroleum
A mixture of hydrocarbon gases that occur with petroleum deposits
time it takes for half the sample to decay
This solid consisting of molecules of methane within a crystal lattice of water ice molecules occurs underground in some Artic locations and more widely under the seafloor on the contenental shelves.
methane held in place by pressure from overlying aquifers; pumping water out of the aquifers releases the gas, but creates huge amounts of contaminated effluent
Energy that is harnessed from reactions among radioactive isotopes, most commonly used is uranium 235
a nuclear reaction in which nuclei combine to form more massive nuclei with the simultaneous release of energy
a nuclear reaction in which a massive nucleus splits into smaller nuclei with the simultaneous release of energy
a bundle of hollow metal rods containing uranium oxide pellets; used to fuel nuclear reactor.
the minimum mass of a fissionable isotope that provides the number of neutrons needed to sustain a chain reaction
a reaction in which the material that starts the reaction is also one of the products and can start another reaction
a fission reactor that is designed to breed more fissionable fuel then is put into it by converting nosfissionable isotopes to fissionable isotops
high-level waste repository
an area to store intensely radioactive wastes buried deep in the ground, hopefully unexposed to groundwater and earthquakes for the thousands of years required for radioactive materials to decay to a safe level
monitored, retrievable storage
holding nuclear wastes in underground mines or secure surface facilities where they can be watched, and removed for repacking if canisters leak
dismantling and disposal of old nuclear reactors
Not in my backyard!!!
Solid, waxy mixture of hydrocarbons found in oil shale rock. Heating the rock to high temperatures causes the kerogen to vaporize. The vapor is condensed, purified, and then sent to a refinery to produce gasoline, heating oil, and other products. See also oil shale, shale oil.
Light water reactor
A common type of commercial nuclear reactor that uses ordinary (light) water as the moderator; Cold water from a local source is used to condense the steam, and that warm water is returned to the environment (thermal pollution)
Wastes that give off small amounts of radiation; Must be stored safely for 100-500 yrs; Most in the U.S. are put in steel drums and dumped into the ocean, others are put in landfills
Waste that gives off high amounts of radiation for a short time, or low amounts for a long time; Spent fuel rods and wastes from making bombs
A specific source of pollution that can be identified, such as a pipe.
Large or dispersed land areas such as crop fields, streets, and lawns that discharge pollutants into the environment over a large area.
contaminants carried by air currents and precipitated into watersheds or directly onto surface waters
used as a common measure of biological pollution and as a standard measure of microbial pollution. It is usually harmless, part of the normal constituents of human intestines and found in all human waste.
BOD (biochemical oxygen demand)
amount of dissolved oxygen needed by aerobic decomposers to break down organic materials
measure of dissolved oxygen in the water
oxygen levels decline downstream from a pollution source as decomposers metabolize waste materials
Describes the water which is nutrient poor, deep & cold, little organic matter (little phytoplanktin)
lakes that are rich with organic matter and vegetation that are typically murky
a population explosion of certain marine dinoflagellates that causes the water to turn a red or red-brown color and to contain poisonous alkaloids produced by the dinoflagellates
Overnourishment of aquatic ecosystems with plant nutrients (mostly nitrates and phosphates) because of human activities such as agriculture, urbanization, and discharges from industrial plants and sewage treatment plants.
harm to lakes and rivers resulting from the release of excessive waste heat into them
total maximum daily load (TMDL)
EPA administered program to address non-point-source water pollution that sets pollution limits according to the abilityof a body of water to assimilate different pollutants.
groundwater contaminant, mainly from leaking underground storage tanks at gas stations
After passing through grates and screens, the water is allowed to settle in clarifiers (tanks), which separates the solids from the liquids. Still has a substantial BOD.
Treating wastewater biologically, by using microorganisms to decompose the suspended organic material; occurs after primary treatment
Highest form of wastewater treatment that includes removal of nutrients, organic and solid material, along with biological & chemical polishing.
a low-cost alternative sewage treatment for cities in poor countries that combines some features of septic systems and centralized municipal teatment systems
the emission of water vapor from the leaves of plants
the process by which water changes from liquid form to an atmospheric gas
a change directly from the solid to the gaseous state without becoming liquid
when a volume of air contains as much water vapor as it can hold at a given temperature
the ratio of the amount of water in the air at a give temperature to the maximum amount it could hold at that temperature
the process by which molecules of water vapor in the air become liquid water
the temperature at which the water vapor in the air becomes saturated and condensation begins
solid particles in the atmosphere, such as ice and dust, that provide the surfaces on which water vapor condenses
dry area found on the leeward side of a mountain range
The average time a given molecule of water or other substance will stay in a given water source
water that fills the cracks and spaces in underground soil and rock layers
This step of the water cycle occurs when the water is pulled into the ground due to the pull of gravity.
zone of aeration
Area above the water table where openings in soil, sediment, and rock are not saturated but are filled mainly with air. Above water table
zone of saturation
lower region of groundwater where all the pore spaces in a rock or sediment are filled with water
the upper surface of underground water; the upper boundary of the zone of saturation
a body of rock or sediment that stores groundwater and allows the flow of groundwater
a well in which water rises because of pressure within the aquifer
Area of the Earth's surface where water percolates down into the aquifer
The volume of water that flows within a given time
renewable water supplies
annual freshwater surface runoff plus annual infiltration into underground freshwater aquifers that are accessible for human use
the total amount of water taken from a lake, river, or aquifer for any purpose; much is returned to circulation in a form that can be used again
the fraction of withdrawn water that is lost in transmission, evaporation, absorption, chemical transformation, or otherwise made unavailable for other purposes as a result of human use
deteriorated in water quality due to contamination or pollution; makes water unsuitable for other desirable purposes
a structure built across a river or stream that restricts the flow of water traveling downstream
the addition of soils to water bodies by natural and human related activities. It decreases water quality and accelerates the aging process of lakes, rivers, and streams.
an artificial lake where the water that is prevented from gong downstream (by a dam) collects
collapse of ground due to groundwater removal
when the roof of an underground channel or cavern collapses, creating a large surface crater
Movement of salt water into freshwater aquifers in coastal and inland areas as groundwater is withdrawn faster than it is recharged by precipitation.
the removal of salt from seawater to make it usable for drinking and farming, very expensive on a large scale
a pollutant that is put directly into the air by human activity
pollutant formed by the chemical reactions of other primary or secondary pollutants
Substances that enter the air without going through a smokestack, such as dust from soil erosion, strip mining, rock crushing, construction or building demolition
the air immediately around us
aka "criteria pollutants"; sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulates, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides, photochemical oxidants, lead, carbon dioxide
produced by chemical interacting between sulfur and oxygen. Contributes to acid rain. Harms plant life, irritates respiratory system when it's a secondary pollutant
(source: auto exhaust) (effects: acidification of lakes, respiratory irritation, leads to smog & ozone) (Equation for acid formation: NO + O2 = NO2 + H2O = HNO3) (Reduction: catalytic converter)
Colorless, odorless poisonous gas produced as a by-product of incomplete combustion; can be dangerous if not properly ventilated
VOC's (volatile organic compounds)
carbon-containing chemicals used in and emitted by vehicle engines and a wide variety of solvents and industrial processes; creates smog, carcinogen
a suspension in the atmosphere of a solid such as dust, salt, and pollen. and liquid droplets such as acids
bits of dust, dirt and small matter in the air
(fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine, and astatine); combine with most metals to form salts.
Products of secondary atmospheric reactions driven by solar energy; causes smog.
hazardous air pollutants
special category of pollutants monitored by the EPA such as carcinogens, neurotoxins, mutagens, teratogens, endocrine disrupters; aka HAP's
TRI (Toxic Release Inventory)
community right-to-know toxin release reports from factories, refineries, hard rock mines, power plants, and chemical manufacturers
undesirable changes in the physical characteristics or chemistry of the atmosphere; ex: noise, odors, light pollution
the average weather conditions in an area over a long period of time
the atmospheric condition that causes pollution to be trapped at ground level by a layer of warm air above it
Dome of heated air that surrounds an urban area and contains a lot of air pollution (particulate matter) in high winds pollution plumes downwind in rural areas
Phenomenon describing urban and suburban tempuratures that are 2 to 10 degrees F(1 to 6 degrees C)hotter than nearby rural areas.
good ozone that keeps out ultraviolet radiation
from air conditioners and refrigerators that destroy the ozone layer
meeting in 1987 where a group of nations met in Canada and agreed to take steps to fight against Ozone Depletion-CFC's banned
inflammation of the mucus membrane of the bronchial tubes
chronic obstructive lung disease
Irreversible damage to the lining of the lungs caused by irritants
combined effects of two pollutants are greater than the sum of their seperate effects
rain containing acids that form in the atmosphere when industrial gas emissions (especially sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides) combine with water