Thursday, October 30, 2008

American Per Capita Energy Use

I decided to try to figure out about how much energy the average American uses in a day. As a source I used the EIA Annual Energy Review from 2007. Most of this energy is used to make the food you eat, the metal, plastic, and other things you use in your life. A fair amount runs cars, air conditioners, strip clubs, computers and ovens though.

In 2007 America consumed 1, 128.8 million short tons of coal. This was almost entirely used to make electricity, although some went to Industry. Multiplying by 2000 pounds in a ton, and dividing that by the approximately 300, 000, 000 Americans there are and the 365 days in a year gives the total per capita daily consumption to be: 20.6 pounds of Coal per American, Per day, or 3.8 tons per year.

Natural Gas:
In 2007 America consumed 23, 055 billion cubic feet of natural gas. This primarily went to heating, cooking, fertilizer and provides about 20% of our electricity. Doing the math this works out to: 211 cubic feet of Natural Gas per American per day, or 77, 000 cubic feet a year.

Crude Oil:
In 2007 America used 20,698 thousand barrels of Petroleum per day. Most of this went to transportation, but some finds its way almost everywhere. Remembering that a barrel of oil is 42 gallons, this works out to be: 2.9 Gallons of Crude Oil Per American per day, or 1050 gallons per year.

In 2007 47.2 million pounds of Uranium Oxide was loaded into Nuclear Reactors in America. This was entirely used to create electricity, although some isotopes used in medicine are also created. Most of the Uranium Oxide is U-238 little of which is actually burned in the reactor. Therefore the amount of U-235 burned is about 5% of the following number: 0.00043 pounds(0.2 grams) of Uranium oxide per American per day, or 73 grams per year.

Someday I will give a talk where I show up with a 20 pound rock of coal, three gallons of crude oil, and a helium tank big enough to fill up 210 cubic feet of balloons. I could be wrong, but I don't think many people actually understand the massive scale of this energy use. When you sit and think about every person you are in the room with using this much energy a day the shocking thing is not that we are creating global warming, but that we have managed to use this much energy without killing ourselves.

1 comment:

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