AP Environmental Science Test: Energy Resources & Consumption

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Question 1
The largest contributor of renewable power in the United States is

A
Wind
B
Solar thermal
C
Solar photovoltaic
D
Geothermal
E
Hydroelectric
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). As of 2015, Hydroelectricity accounted for 46% of all renewable power produced in the United States. The most common type of hydroelectric power plant uses a dam on a river to store water in a reservoir. Water is released from the reservoir and flows through a turbine, spinning it, which in turn activates a generator to produce electricity.
Question 2
Which country has the greatest number of nuclear power plants on a per capita basis?

A
England
B
United States
C
Spain
D
Japan
E
France
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). As of 2015, France had 58 operating nuclear reactors and a population of 65 million. The United States and Japan had 99 and 43 operating nuclear reactors, with populations of 320 million and 126 million, respectively. The French government has focused on nuclear power because of France’s limited natural energy resources.
Question 3
Which of the following pairs is the predominant source of fuel for electricity generation in the United States?

A
Natural Gas and Oil
B
Oil and Coal
C
Nuclear fuels and Solar Power
D
Coal and Natural Gas
E
Hydroelectric dams and Oil
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The predominant source of fuel for electricity generation in the United States is natural gas and coal. As of 2016, coal and natural gas together account for 65% of the electricity produced in the United States. Nuclear accounts for approximately 20%.
Question 4
Which type of coal has the lowest energy content?

A
Bituminous
B
Sub-bituminous
C
Lignite
D
Anthracite
E
All of these have equal energy content
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Coals are ranked from low to high in this order: Lignite, sub-bituminous, bituminous, anthracite. Lower ranked coals are softer, lighter, contain less carbon, and have less energy content than higher ranked coals.

Coal starts off as peat. After a long amount of time, heat, and burial pressure, it is metamorphosed from peat to lignite. Lignite is called "immature" coal at this stage of development because it is rather light in color and remains soft. As time passes, lignite increases in maturity by becoming darker and harder, and is then classified as sub-bituminous coal. With more time, pressure, and heat, more chemical and physical changes occur and the coal is classified as bituminous. At this point the coal is dark and hard. Anthracite is the last of the classifications, when the coal has matured completely. Anthracite coal is very hard and shiny.
Question 5
Which of the following is NOT one of the advantages of natural gas as an energy source?

A
Burning it releases no pollutants.
B
It is efficient for cooking and home heating.
C
It can be used as a fuel for vehicles.
D
It is abundant.
E
It can be stored and transported.
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The burning of natural gas does release pollutants. The advantage is that it burns cleaner than other fossil fuels, producing half the carbon dioxide as coal and about a third less than oil. It also emits fewer amounts of toxic chemicals like nitrous oxides and sulfur dioxide.
Question 6
Currently, most high-level radioactive waste from nuclear reactors in the United States is

A
stored in deep ocean trenches.
B
buried in Yucca Mountain.
C
reprocessed into new fuel pellets.
D
chemically modified into safe materials.
E
stored at the power plant that produced it.
Question 6 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). Used nuclear fuel is stored at the nation's nuclear power plants in steel-lined, concrete pools filled with water or in massive, airtight steel or concrete-and-steel canisters. In the mid-1980s, plans were made to store the majority of the spent nuclear fuel at a central repository underneath Yucca Mountain in Nevada. But the project languished primarily due to opposition from Nevada residents who don’t want to import this dangerous material. Critics of the plan also worry that natural forces such as erosion and earthquakes could make the storage facility unstable. These nuclear isotopes can remain hazardous to humans for hundreds of thousands of years.
Question 7
When did oil production in the United States first peak?

A
1965
B
1970
C
1982
D
2006
E
2010
Question 7 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Oil production in the U.S. first peaked in 1970, which was predicted by M. King Hubbert. He is known for the Hubbert Peak Theory, which states that the rate of petroleum production tends to follow a bell-shaped curve. However, with the advent of fracking, U.S. oil production began rising sharply again in 2009, and it is quickly approaching the 1970 peak. The amount of production in the U.S. no longer follows a bell-shaped curve. The theory turned out to be wrong as it failed to predict the effects of new technology. Advancing technology now enables discovery of new oil resources, access to known resources that were previously thought to be unrecoverable, and extraction of a larger percentage of oil via secondary and tertiary recovery methods.
Question 8
The function of a yaw drive in a wind turbine is to

A
transfer mechanical energy to the generator.
B
convert mechanical energy into electricity.
C
keep the rotor facing into the wind as the wind direction changes.
D
turn the blades.
E
convert kinetic energy into mechanical energy.
Question 8 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The yaw drive is an important component of the wind turbines' yaw system. To ensure the wind turbine is producing the maximal amount of electric energy at all times, the yaw drive is used to keep the rotor facing into the wind as the wind direction changes. The wind turns the blades, which are connected to the gearbox, which in turn is connected to the generator. The gearbox transfers mechanical energy to the generator. The generator converts mechanical energy into electricity.
Question 9
Which of the following is true of passive solar designs?

A
These designs use mechanical and electrical devices for heating and cooling.
B
These designs have windows, walls, and floors that are made to collect, store, and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter, and reject solar heat in the summer.
C
These designs have solar hot water systems which use pumps or fans to circulate fluid.
D
These designs use low-impact building materials and permeable concrete instead of conventional concrete to enhance the replenishment of ground water.
E
These designs include onsite generation of renewable energy through solar power, wind power, hydro power, or biomass .
Question 9 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Passive solar design uses sunlight without active mechanical systems. This is in contrast to active solar design which uses external sources of energy to power blowers, pumps and other types of equipment to collect, store and convert solar energy.
Question 10
Which of the following forms of energy travels by waves?

A
Thermal
B
Chemical
C
Mechanical
D
Nuclear
E
Electromagnetic
Question 10 Explanation: 
Electromagnetic energy is reflected or emitted from objects and travels through space in waves. Thermal energy is heat which results from the internal energy in substances. Chemical energy is the energy stored in bonds between atoms in a molecule. Mechanical energy includes potential (stored energy) and kinetic energy (energy in motion).
Question 11
Which of the following nonrenewable energy sources is responsible for releasing 35% of all CO2 and 30% of all NOx emissions released into the atmosphere?

A
Coal
B
Oil
C
Natural gas
D
Nuclear power
E
Methane
Question 11 Explanation: 
Coal is the most commonly used fuel for electricity generation in the United States. It is energy-dense and plentiful, and is 60-80% carbon. When it is burned, the carbon is converted to CO2, contributing to atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions.
Question 12
Which of the following is the precursor to coal, and is made up of partly decomposed organic material?

A
Lignite
B
Subbituminous
C
Bituminous
D
Peat
E
Anthracite
Question 12 Explanation: 
There are three major types of coal: lignite, bituminous, and anthracite. Peat is the precursor to coal, and includes mosses.
Question 13
Which of the following nonrenewable energy sources is easily transported through establishing pipelines, produces a high net-energy yield, is subsidized by the U.S. government, and can be used to produce many other products such as paints, medicines and plastics?

A
Coal
B
Oil
C
Natural gas
D
Nuclear power
E
Methane
Question 13 Explanation: 
Oil is also referred to as petroleum and crude oil in the United States. It is produced by the decomposition of organic material under high temperature and pressure for millions of years.
Question 14
Which of the following nonrenewable energy sources produces less SO2 and NOx than other fossil fuels when burned, leading to less of an impact on acid rain and photochemical smog?

A
Coal
B
Oil
C
Natural gas
D
Nuclear power
E
Methane
Question 14 Explanation: 
Natural gas is lighter than oil, and found above oil in petroleum deposits. Its two largest uses in the United States are electricity generation and industrial processes. Natural gas is considered a “clear fuel” because it contains fewer impurities and emits almost zero sulfur dioxide or particulates during consumption.
Question 15
In which part of a nuclear power plant is the fuel located?

A
Core
B
Cooling tower
C
Turbine
D
Moderator
E
Electrical generator
Question 15 Explanation: 
The core of a nuclear reactor contains up to 50,000 fuel rods.
Question 16
Which of the following is an advantage of nuclear power?

A
There is enough uranium left for the next 100,000 years
B
Nuclear power does not release any CO2
C
Nuclear wastes are easily recyclable
D
Uranium is a renewable resource
E
Nuclear power generation produces very little water pollution
Question 16 Explanation: 
It is true that nuclear power produces very little water pollution. However, there is only enough uranium left for the next 80 years. Nuclear power releases a small amount of CO2 (only 1/6 of the amount produced by fossil fuels). Nuclear wastes are not recyclable; they are very difficult to dispose of. Finally, uranium is not a renewable resource.
Question 17
Which of the following renewable energy sources is produced by anaerobic digestion of organic materials which creates a gas that can be burned to produce electricity?

A
Biogas
B
Biomass
C
Biofuel
D
Geothermal
E
Synfuel
Question 17 Explanation: 
Biogas is produced by anaerobic digestion of organic materials. Biomass is the burning of living or recently living organisms such as yard clippings and wood chips. Biofuel is fuel produced by living organisms such as corn or sugarcane. Geothermal energy utilizes the heat contained in underground rock. Synfuel, or synthetic fuel, is any fuel produced from coal, natural gas or biomass through chemical conversion.
Question 18
Which of the following is an example of an active solar heating system?

A
Putting reflective coatings on roofs and exterior walls
B
Increasing insulation
C
Using photovoltaic solar cells to absorb solar energy
D
Installing skylights to allow sunlight into the building
E
Blocking sunlight with thermal blinds on windows or installing awnings
Question 18 Explanation: 
Active solar heating systems involve the use of solar collectors, such as photovoltaic solar cells, to absorb solar energy. The other methods listed are passive, in that they do not include any mechanical heating devices. Passive solar heating involves incorporating building designs that absorb heat and then slowly release it to maintain a consistent temperature in the building.
Question 19
Which of the following is the fastest growing source of electricity in the world?

A
Hydrogen fuel cells
B
Biodiesel
C
Wind energy
D
Geothermal energy
E
Hydroelectricity
Question 19 Explanation: 
Wind energy is the fastest growing source of electricity in the world. It has risen from less than 10 gigawatts in 1996 to over 160 gigawatts today.
Question 20
Which of the following statements about renewable energy is correct?

A
All renewable energy sources are nondepletable
B
Using renewable energy never harms animals or the environment
C
The use of renewable energy does not produce any types of pollution
D
Many renewable resources have been used for humans for thousands of years to produce energy
E
Renewable energy resources account for approximately 75% of the energy used worldwide
Question 20 Explanation: 
It is true that many renewable resources have been used by humans for thousands of years to produce energy. Before humans started using fossil fuels, the only available source of energy was wood, plants, animal manure, and animal oils. Although not all renewable energy sources are nondepletable, they are considered potentially renewable as long as we don’t consume the fuel source more quickly than it can be replenished. Unfortunately, there are some drawbacks to using renewable energy sources such as potential harm to the environment and releasing small amounts of pollution. However, these risks are less than that of using fossil fuels. Finally, renewable energy resources account for approximately 13% of the energy used worldwide.
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