AP Environmental Science : Biomass

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Environmental Science

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Other Energy Sources

Scientists agree that this option holds the most promise for an efficient, cheap, and environmentally safe source of fuel.

Possible Answers:

Ethanol made from corn

Biodiesel made from corn

Agricultural wastes

Ethanol made from cellulosic plants

Proton pumps

Correct answer:

Ethanol made from cellulosic plants


Ethanol can be made from cellulosic—or woody—plants such as switchgrass, poplars, and willows. Cellulose, or plant tissue, sequesters a huge amount of carbon and contains a great deal more energy per unit than corn. Scientists believe that within the next two decades, research will have figured out how to quickly and efficiently break down plant tissue for fermentation into fuel.

Biodiesel made from corn is environmentally safe to burn; however, it requires a great deal of water and resources to grow and harvest.

Agricultural wastes can have a negative impact on air quality due to the pollutants they generate when burned, such as sulfur oxide, nitrogen oxide, and carbon monoxide. 

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