Quiz: The Ultimate Synthetic Fuels Quiz: HowStuffWorks
The Ultimate Synthetic Fuels Quiz
4 Min Quiz
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About This Quiz
Synthetic fuels are one just one alternative to oil. Some synfuels are better for the environment, some are worse. Some are made from rocks found deep under the earth, and some are made from the trash in your local landfill. See what you know about the various types of synfuels in our ultimate synthetic fuels quiz.
What is the definition of a synfuel?
Short for synthetic fuel, synfuel describes any fuel that is created through chemically manipulating organic matter so that its hydrocarbons are similar to the hydrocarbons found in petroleum-based fuels. "Synthetic" can be misleading, since all synfuels are made from organic material.
How is syncrude different from synfuel?
Syncrude, short for synthetic crude, is a type of synfuel that must be refined to produce a final product, just like regular crude oil. All synthetic crudes are synfuels, but not all synfuels are synthetic crudes.
What is CTL?
CTL, or coal-to-liquid fuel, describes synthetic fuel that is created by smashing coal, gasifying it and condensing it into liquid fuel.
What is feedstock?
Feedstock is a blanket term used to describe the coal, natural gas, or biomass used to produce synthetic fuels. By the time it is converted to fuel, the feedstock will have been crushed, burned, gasified and liquefied, and won't resemble the raw material at all.
What is BTL?
BTL, or biomass-to-liquid fuel, is a type of synthetic fuel that is made from relatively fresh organic matter, instead of fossil fuels. The biomass in question can be plant waste, wood, or organic waste from a landfill.
True or False: An experimental form of synfuel in the early stages of development would be manufactured by isolating the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and converting it to fuel.
Scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have shown, in theory, the possibility of producing synfuel using captured atmospheric carbon dioxide. The only drawback: Each facility might need its own nuclear power plant to power the energy-intensive process.
Which of the following is NOT a current limitation on the production of synfuels?
Especially in the U.S., Canada and South America, available feedstock such as coal, oil sands, oil shale and natural gas are abundant. The problem comes in the high costs of facilities and production, and the lack of technology for gathering feedstock that is buried deep underground.
What is the Fischer-Tropsch process?
The Fischer-Tropsch is a chemical reaction used to produce synfuels. The reaction involves applying heat and pressure to a feedstock in the presence of a catalyst, in order to change the arrangement of hydrocarbons and produce synthetic fuels and other products. The fuels are naturally cleaner and purer than their petroleum-based counterparts.
When and where was the Fischer-Tropsch process and synfuel technology originally developed?
Two German scientists, Franz Fischer and Hal Tropsch, invented the Fischer-Tropsch process in 1923.
What is GTL?
The "gas" in gas-to-liquids fuel is natural gas, which can be altered through an introduction of chemicals, heat and pressure to produce a liquid synthetic fuel.
What is shale oil?
The shale rocks that are processed to create shale oil are commonly called "oil shale." But oil shale is actually a rock called marlstone, a naturally occurring rock rich in a substance called kerogen that can be processed and converted into syncrude.
True or False: Synthetic fuels were a vital part of the war strategy of Nazi Germany.
Because Germany and its allies had limited access to oil reserves during World War II, the Nazis took advantage of synfuels technologies that had been developed in the country years earlier in order to fuel its planes and tanks.
What are oil sands?
Oil sands are natural deposits that have been corroded by bacteria over time that include a mix of sand, clay, water and a substance called bitumen. The bitumen is similar to oil, and can be processed to produce a form of syncrude.
What is extra heavy oil?
A naturally occurring substance, extra heavy oil is very similar to conventional oil, except that it is far more viscous. It can be refined to make syncrude.
What would have to happen to the price of crude oil to make synthetic fuels more economically viable?
Because synthetic fuels are much more expensive to produce than conventional oil, crude oil prices would have to increase dramatically before most types of synfuels would be considered economically viable to many manufacturers.
Production of synfuels creates which of the following byproducts that can later be sold?
Impurities contained in feedstocks can be easily filtered out of the synfuel when it is a gaseous state. Heavy metals collect at the bottom of synfuels gasifiers and can then be resold to help defray the costs of the operation.
What is syngas?
Short for synthesis gas, syngas is the mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen that is produced from heating and compressing feedstock. The syngas is the main ingredient, along with catalysts like cobalt and iron, that fuels the Fischer-Tropsch reaction.
At least one country has been regularly manufacturing synfuels for more than 30 years. Name the country.
Synthetic fuels, including GTLs and CTLs, have been a major part of the South African oil economy since the 1970s.
The United States has enough estimated reserves of oil shale to meet the country's fossil fuel needs for approximately how many years?
At current consumption levels, the oil shale deposits in the Green River Formation in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming could fuel the United States for a century. Those oil shale deposits are still largely untapped.
How is bitumen different from conventional crude oil?
Bitumen, the naturally occurring substance that can be found in oil sands deposits, is far thicker and more viscous than conventional crude oil. Through extensive production processes, including rinsing with hot water and exposing to heat, bitumen can be processed to make syncrude.
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