AP Environmental Science : Energy Production and Usage

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Environmental Science

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Types Of Energy

Which of the following forms of energy results from the motion of electrons?

Possible Answers:

thermal

electrical

chemical

mechanical

nuclear

Correct answer:

electrical

Explanation:

Electrical energy is form of energy that results from the motion of electrons.

Example Question #1 : Energy Production And Usage

Which of the following is not a type of renewable energy? 

Possible Answers:

Solar power

None of these

Geothermal energy

Nuclear energy

Wind energy

Correct answer:

Nuclear energy

Explanation:

Nuclear energy has the potential to last a long time; however, the quantity is finite and limited—similar to oil and gas. Solar energy, wind energy, and geothermal energy—from heat within the Earth—are produced by energy sources that do not deplete over time and can be constantly renewed. 

Example Question #1 : Types Of Energy

What is the nature of photosynthesis and its objective in energy conversion? 

Possible Answers:

To convert heat energy into high grade chemical energy for the purpose of energy storage

To convert radiant energy into high grade chemical energy for the purpose of energy storage

To convert chemical energy into low grade heat energy for the purpose of biological metabolism

To convert chemical energy into low grade light energy for the purpose of bioluminescence 

Correct answer:

To convert radiant energy into high grade chemical energy for the purpose of energy storage

Explanation:

Photosynthesis is the chemical process of utilizing the sun's radiant energy to produce glucose. Glucose is a carbohydrate monomer that is used for energy storage. Heat is not the type of energy utilized from the sun and the conversion of chemical energy into other forms is the reverse process of Photosynthesis. 

Example Question #1 : Types Of Energy

Imagine you own an electric car and you recharge the battery each night. Each morning before you leave for work, the battery is fully charged. What time of energy does this fully charged battery contain before you start the engine?

Possible Answers:

Potential energy

Metabolic energy

Radiant energy

Kinetic energy

Correct answer:

Potential energy

Explanation:

The correct response is potential energy. This is stored energy at rest. It's energy waiting to be used. However, if the car was moving they would would call it kinetic energy - energy in motion. Since in the questions the car hadn't been started yet, kinetic energy is the incorrect response. Radiant energy is from the sunlight, thus that answer is incorrect. Metabolic energy is related to digestion so that response is incorrect.

Example Question #3 : Energy Production And Usage

One of the major challenges in creating a sustainable future is to develop renewable energies. Which of the following is not an example of a renewable energy?

Possible Answers:

Wind

Natural gas

Solar

Geothermal

Correct answer:

Natural gas

Explanation:

The correct response is natural gas. This is an example of a fossil fuel - like coal and oil. Fossil fuels are considered non-renewable resources because once they are used up, they are gone forever. All of the other answer choices are considered renewable resources because they can be used multiple times without being depleted. For example, if an individual adds solar panels to their home, then they will receive energy day after day - sunlight is not completely used up by the solar panels.

Example Question #2 : Energy Production And Usage

The kilowatt-hour is a unit that is used to quantify __________.

Possible Answers:

energy use

amounts of air pollution

changes in pH

rate of deforestation

rates of erosion and weathering

Correct answer:

energy use

Explanation:

A kilowatt-hour is a unit of energy equal to one thousand watt-hours. A watt-hour is the amount of energy used to power a hypothetical device for one hour that requires one watt of energy to function. Thus, a kilowatt-hour is used to measure energy consumption.

Example Question #1 : Laws Of Thermodynamics

 

Most automobiles today have an energy efficiency of roughly 25% to 30%, meaning only a fraction of the potential energy from the gas you pump into your car will be converted into the kinetic energy of the car actually moving. Which of the following statements is true and best explains this phenomenon?

Possible Answers:

Energy can be neither created nor destroyed.

When energy is converted to another form, the energy quality will decrease and energy cannot be recycled to a higher efficiency.

Energy can be converted from one form to another but no energy is lost in this process.

Energy cannot be created, but it can be destroyed in the process of converting to another form.

Energy cannot be destroyed, but it can be created.

Correct answer:

When energy is converted to another form, the energy quality will decrease and energy cannot be recycled to a higher efficiency.

Explanation:

The second law of thermodynamics states that when energy is converted from one form to another, some energy is lost and efficiency decreases. The energy from gasoline igniting is lost to friction from the engine and converting energy in the form of a combustion to the form of wheels rotating forward. Efficiency of energy use is lost in this conversion process.

Example Question #1 : Laws Of Thermodynamics

Which Law of Thermodynamics explains how Earth is an open system? 

Possible Answers:

The Second Law because the Sun provides energy to the Earth, thus making it unable to be an isolated system. 

The First Law because all energy on Earth originates from the Sun. 

The First Law because no energy escapes from Earth, it stays on the planet indefinitely. 

The Second Law because the entropy on Earth can only increase. 

Correct answer:

The Second Law because the Sun provides energy to the Earth, thus making it unable to be an isolated system. 

Explanation:

The Second Law of thermodynamics states that the entropy on Earth can only increase unless there is an external source of energy. This external source is the Sun, which makes Earth an open system. Energy is able to flow both into an out of the Earth's energy system and explains phenomena such as evolution and global warming. 

Example Question #3 : Energy Production And Usage

Which of the following is the predominant industrial energy source in the United States currently, in 2015?

Possible Answers:

Fossil fuels and natural gas

Nuclear energy

Geothermal energy

Hydroelectric energy

Coal

Correct answer:

Fossil fuels and natural gas

Explanation:

While coal was the predominant source of energy during the Industrial Revolution, advancements in petroleum extraction and refining resulted in petroleum and natural gas becoming the dominant industrial fuel source in the 1950s. This pattern has existed to this day.

Example Question #4 : Energy Production And Usage

Which of the following most accurately defines "Energy Star"?

Possible Answers:

A collaborative program formed by private companies that manufacture consumer appliances and the Environmental Protection Agency to set an industry standard of energy efficiency

A federal energy-efficiency standard mandated for consumer electronics and appliances by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy

A program created by the Department of Energy that offers federal rebates for Energy Star certified home appliances, which have higher energy efficiency than the federal standards

An internationally-recognized standard for energy-efficient consumer products, formed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy

A standard for energy-efficiency drafted by private companies that manufacture electronics and consumer goods

Correct answer:

An internationally-recognized standard for energy-efficient consumer products, formed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy

Explanation:

The Energy Star certification is a standard of energy efficiency for consumer electronics and appliances that is higher than what is required by federal standards. The program was a joint venture by the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy and has since become an internationally-recognized standard.

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