Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fourth Of July No Picnic For The Nation’s Environment

Date:
July 7, 2003
Source:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Summary:
When an estimated 60 million Americans fire up their barbecue grills this Fourth of July, they'll be burning the equivalent of 2,300 acres of forest and consuming enough energy to meet the residential demand of a town the size of Flagstaff, Ariz., for an entire year.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., July 3, 2003 -- When an estimated 60 million Americans fire up their barbecue grills this Fourth of July, they'll be burning the equivalent of 2,300 acres of forest and consuming enough energy to meet the residential demand of a town the size of Flagstaff, Ariz., for an entire year.

Tristram West of the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory also calculated that the grills would emit nearly 225,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. A metric ton is equal to about 2,200 pounds. West's estimate includes carbon dioxide emissions from production and combustion of the fuel. Carbon dioxide, considered a greenhouse gas, is increasing in the atmosphere each year and is thought to be a major factor in climate change.

July 4 is by far the most popular day of the year for cookouts, according to a Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (http://www.hpba.org/index.cfm) survey that found that 76 percent of the nation's grill owners use at least one of their grills that day. The survey also found that 76 percent of American households own a grill and 42 percent own more than one. Sixty-one percent own a liquefied petroleum gas grill; 48 percent own a charcoal grill; 9 percent own a natural gas grill; and 7 percent own an electric grill.

West, a researcher in ORNL's Environmental Sciences Division, assumed a 35,000 British thermal unit per hour output for the average grill and one hour of operation for each grill. In making his calculations, West took into account the carbon content and carbon dioxide emissions for each type of fuel.

"While more grills are fueled with liquefied petroleum gas, the majority of carbon dioxide emissions are from grills using charcoal briquettes, because the amount of carbon per Btu of gas is about one-third that of charcoal," West said.

Although electric grills emit no on-site carbon dioxide, West said they have the highest emissions per hour of all the grills when accounting for fossil fuel emissions from producing and transmitting electricity. A liquefied petroleum gas grill operated for an hour would emit 5.6 pounds of carbon dioxide while a charcoal grill would emit about 11 pounds. An electric grill would account for about 15 pounds of carbon dioxide.

West's calculations were based on the common charcoal typically sold at grocery and convenience stores, as opposed to charcoal that is made solely from wood. Common charcoal has a heating value of 9,700 Btu per pound while solid wood charcoal has a heating value of about 13,000 Btu per pound.

If the nearly 34 million liquefied petroleum and natural gas grills expected to be in use July 4 were instead charcoal grills, they would emit an additional 89,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, West said. That's about a 40 percent increase in emissions. If, however, the nearly 23 million charcoal grills were fueled by liquefied petroleum gas, carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by about 26 percent, or about 59,000 metric tons.

In making the estimate of energy consumption, West assumed an average household in the United States uses about 101 million Btu per year. That information is contained in a 1997 DOE Energy Information Administration document. Flagstaff has about 21,000 households. West's forest estimate assumes trees common to East Tennessee -– oak, hickory and pine.

West cautioned against letting this data spoil your holiday fun, saying, "Considering that the U.S. emitted 5.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide in 2000, the emissions from grills are relatively insignificant. In fact, all of the grills in use July 4 would have to remain lit every hour of every day for three years to approximately equal the average annual U.S. carbon dioxide emissions.

"So I suggest that you fire up the grill and relax. However, also remember that when the coals are no longer on the grate and the gas is no longer in the tank, the coals and gas are not gone. They're in the atmosphere."

###ORNL is home to the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (http://cdiac.ornl.gov/), which includes the World Data Center for Atmospheric Traces Gases. The center is the primary global change data and information analysis center for the Department of Energy. The center responds to requests for data and information from users from all over the world.

ORNL is a multiprogram facility managed for DOE by UT-Battelle.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Oak Ridge National Laboratory. "Fourth Of July No Picnic For The Nation’s Environment." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 July 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/07/030707090445.htm>.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (2003, July 7). Fourth Of July No Picnic For The Nation’s Environment. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/07/030707090445.htm
Oak Ridge National Laboratory. "Fourth Of July No Picnic For The Nation’s Environment." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/07/030707090445.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

US Police Put Body Cameras to the Test

US Police Put Body Cameras to the Test

AFP (Oct. 1, 2014) Police body cameras are gradually being rolled out across the US, with interest surging after the fatal police shooting in August of an unarmed black teenager. Duration: 02:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Japan Celebrates 'bullet Train' Anniversary

Raw: Japan Celebrates 'bullet Train' Anniversary

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) A ceremony marking 50 years since Japan launched its Shinkansen bullet train was held on Wednesday in Tokyo. The latest model can travel from Tokyo to Osaka, a distance of 319 miles, in two hours and 25 minutes. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robotic Hair Restoration

Robotic Hair Restoration

Ivanhoe (Oct. 1, 2014) A new robotic procedure is changing the way we transplant hair. The ARTAS robot leaves no linear scarring and provides more natural results. Video provided by Ivanhoe
Powered by NewsLook.com
Argentina's Tax Evaders Detected, Hunted Down by Drones

Argentina's Tax Evaders Detected, Hunted Down by Drones

AFP (Sep. 30, 2014) Argentina doesn't only have Lionel Messi the footballer, it has now also acquired "Mesi" the drone system which monitors undeclared mansions, swimming pools and soy fields to curb tax evasion in the country. Duration: 01:18 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins