Natural Resources Study Guide

Materials obtained from the environment used to meet our needs and/or wants.

Renewable Resource
Any natural resource (as wood or solar energy) that is be replenished naturally in a reasonable amount of time.

Non-renewable Resource
A resource that cannot be reused or replaced easily (ex. gems, iron, copper, fossil fuels).

In ecological cycles and models, the amount of a material (resource) in a certain medium or reservoir.

The rate at which new material is added to or removed from a stock.

Net Flow
The inflow minus outflow from a stock, which determines whether the stock grows, shrinks, or remains constant.

British Thermal Unit; a unit of heat equal to the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit at one atmosphere pressure.

A geologically young coal which has the lowest carbon content, 25-35 percent, and a heat value ranging between 4,000 and 8,300 BTUs-per-pound. Sometimes called brown coal, it is mainly used for electric power generation.

Coal with 35-45 percent carbon content and a heat value between 8,300 and 13,000 BTUs-per-pound. Reserves are located mainly in a half-dozen Western states and Alaska. Although its heat value is lower, this coal generally has a lower sulfur content than other types, which makes it attractive for use because it is cleaner burning.

The most plentiful form of coal in the United States, used primarily to generate electricity and make coke for the steel industry; has a carbon content ranging from 45 to 86 percent carbon and a heat value of 10,500 to 15,500 BTUs-per-pound.

Coal with the highest carbon content, between 86 and 98 percent, and a heat value of nearly 15,000 BTUs-per-pound.

Geothermal Gradient
The gradual increase in temperature with depth in the crust.

Chemical compounds containing carbon and hydrogen as the principal elements. Oil and natural gas are examples.

Source Rock
A rock rich in organic matter which, if heated sufficiently, will generate oil or gas.

Hydrocarbon System
The combination of a source rock, reservoir, trap, and cap rock.

Oil Reservoir
A supply of oil underground, formed when oil and gas become trapped beneath an impermeable rock layer.

Cap Rock
A layer of impermeable rock that stops gas and oil from escaping from a reservoir.

Tar Sand
Deposit of a mixture of clay, sand, water, and varying amounts of a tar-like heavy oil known as bitumen. Bitumen can be extracted from tar sand by heating, and is then purified and upgraded to synthetic crude oil.

Oil Shale
A soft, fine-grained sedimentary rock from which oil and natural gas can be obtained by heating.

Natural Gas
A fossil fuel in the gaseous state.

A colorless odorless gas used as a fuel, with the chemical formula CH₄.

Synthetic gas, a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen, obtained by coal gasification.

The heating and partial combustion of coal to release gases such as methane and carbon monoxide; after pollutants are washed out, these gases become efficient, clean-burning fuel.

A mineral or rock that contains a useful substance that can be mined for profit.

A clay-like mineral which is the chief ore of aluminum.

US Energy Consumption
US Energy Consumption

What percentage of our electricity in Alabama is generated using coal?
What percentage of our electricity in Alabama is generated using coal?
Approximately 27 %

What does the term hydrocarbon mean?
Substances containing carbon and hydrogen. Examples include coal, oil, natural gas.

How does oil form?
How does oil form?

Cross-Section Hydrocarbon System
Cross-Section Hydrocarbon System

Products from a Barrel of Crude Oil.
Products from a Barrel of Crude Oil.
Some of the products from a Barrel of crude oil…for a longer list, see…

What is a Fossil Fuel? Why are they called fossil?
Coal, Oil, and Natural Gas are examples of fossil fuels. They are called FOSSIL fuels because they form through the decay of once living organisms.

How does coal form?
How does coal form?

Why is coal so commonly used as a fuel to generate electricity?

What are the downsides of using coal as a primary energy source?

What usually happens as a natural resource becomes scarce?

Describe one method of making “clean coal”.

Approximately how many aluminum cans are used in the US each day?
360 million

What are the advantages of recycling metals such as aluminum?

Compare and contrast renewable and non-renewable resources and give examples of each.

What is meant by the term “unconventional fossil fuel”? List one example…

What usually has to happen for an alternative resource to be commonly used.

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