Replacing Fossil Fuels?

Solar Charger Diagram
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Intended Grade Level(s):
Learning Goal(s):

1. Students will define energy density. 2. Students will compare energy densities among various transportation fuel options. 3. Students will compare costs per unit of energy among various transportation fuel options. 4. Students will compare energy return on energy invested among various transportation fuel options. 5. Students will assess which fuels have the most potential to replace fossil fuels in the transportation sector using a weighted matrix.

Lesson Number:
Relevant NGSS PE:
Estimated Activity Length:
1 hour 20 min
Relevant Common Core Standard(s):

As students begin to look at the role photovoltaics might play within the transportation energy sector, it is important for them to understand why the phasing-out of fossil fuels is such a daunting task. This lesson is designed to help students comprehend the concept of energy density and compare fossil fuels to other potential energy sources for transportation. Comparisons will include energy density, cost per unit of energy, and energy returned on energy invested. Students may also compare the potential impacts of each with regard to carbon emissions. As part of a unit following the engineering design loop, this lesson will “define the problem.” 

Other Material(s) Used:
Student Handouts #1 and #2