The Department of Energy just posted an interesting online tool for calculating the average amount of energy you consume each year in energy-equivalent terms of coal, dynamite, and burritos (yes, burritos).
Turns out the average American burns up the annual energy equivalent of 15,370 pounds of coal (7.7 tons), 165,033 sticks of dynamite, or 31,226 burritos for residential and transportation activities. Putting aside the dynamite and burrito comparisons for the moment, the data analysis makes the point that your energy use burns up about 41 pounds of coal a day, equaling your body weight every few days.
Yes, that coal burn and waste is an important issue for a nation pursuing challenging Act On Climate goals, which makes this alternative comparison – not mentioned in the DOE calculator – even more important …
The energy in 7.7 tons of coal is equal to about 4 inches of uranium nuclear fuel pellets the width of your little finger.
In other words, eight gummy-bear-size pieces of nuclear fuel would reliably power every hour of your life for a year – without climate impact emissions.
Even better, once you’ve used that nuclear fuel, you could recycle 96% of it into new nuclear fuel to keep powering your life and significantly reduce your waste stream for storage.
Two more comparisons: The energy in just a single ½”-long nuclear fuel pellet equals the energy in 3 barrels of oil, or 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas – again, without climate impact emissions.
So, what’s your energy choice : 4 inches of nuclear fuel a year, or 7.7 tons of coal, or 165,033 sticks of dynamite, or 31,226 burritos (117 burritos-a-day)?
We opt for reliable, on-demand, clean air nuclear energy … plus the occasional burrito.