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M - R

MARGINAL COST
The sum that has to be paid the next increment of product of service. The marginal cost of electricity is the price to be paid for kilowatt-hours above and beyond those supplied by presently available generating capacity.

METHANOL (also known as Methyl Alcohol, Wood Alcohol, CH3OH)
A liquid formed by catalytically combining carbon monoxide (CO) with hydrogen (H2) in a 1:2 ratio, under high temperature and pressure. Commercially it is typically made by steam reforming natural gas. Also formed in the destructive distillation of wood.

METHANE
A light hydrocarbon that is the main component of natural gas and marsh gas. It is the product of the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter, enteric fermentation in animals and is one of the greenhouse gases. Chemical formula is CH4.

MW
Megawatt. The standard unit of measure for the amount of power produced from a plant. One megawatt is 1,000 kilowatts.

NATURAL GAS
Hydrocarbon gas found in the earth, composed of methane, ethane, butane, propane and other gases.

NATURAL GAS VEHICLE
Vehicles that are powered by compressed or liquefied natural gas.

NUCLEAR ENERGY
Power obtained by splitting heavy atoms (fission) or joining light atoms (fusion). A nuclear energy plant uses a controlled atomic chain reaction to produce heat. The heat is used to make steam run conventional turbine generators.

OCTANE
A rating scale used to grade gasoline as to its antiknock properties. Also any of several isometric liquid paraffin hydrocarbons, C8H18. Normal octane is a colorless liquid found in petroleum boiling at 124.6 degrees Celsius.

OPEC
Acronym for Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries founded in 1960 for unify and coordinate petroleum polices of the members. Headquarters is in Vienna, Austria.

OZONE
A kind of oxygen that has three atoms per molecule instead of the usual two. Ozone is a poisonous gas, but the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere shields life on earth from deadly ultraviolet radiation from space. The molecule contains three oxygen atoms (O3).

PARTICULATE MATTER (PM)
Unburned fuel particles that form smoke or soot and stick to lung tissue when inhaled. A chief component of exhaust emissions from heavy-duty diesel engines.

PASSIVE SOLAR ENERGY
Use of the sun to help meet a building's energy needs by means of architectural design (such as arrangement of windows) and materials (such as floors that store heat, or other thermal mass).

PHOTOSYNTHESIS
A process by which green plants change carbon dioxide into oxygen and organic materials. The energy for this process comes from sunlight.

PHOTOVOLTAIC CELL
A semiconductor that converts light directly into electricity.

PCBs (POLYCHLORONATED BIPHENYLS)
A group of organic compounds used in the manufacture of plastics and formerly used as a coolant in electric transformers. In the environment, PCBs are highly toxic to aquatic life. They persist in the environment for long periods of time and are biologically accumulative.

POWER
Electricity for use as energy.

POWER PLANT
A central station generating facility that produces energy.

PROPANE
A gas that is both present in natural gas and refined from crude oil. It is used for heating, lighting and industrial applications. See also LPG.

R-VALUE
A unit of thermal resistance used for comparing insulating values of different material. It is basically a measure of the effectiveness of insulation in stopping heat flow. The higher the R-value number, a material, the greater its insulating properties and the slower the heat flow through it. The specific value needed to insulate a home depends on climate, type of heating system and other factors.

RADIATION
The flow of energy across open space via electromagnetic waves such as light. Passage of heat from one object to another without warming the air space in between.

RAW FUEL
Coal, natural gas, wood or other fuel that is used in the form in which it is found in nature, without chemical processing.

REFINERY
A facility that separates crude oil into varied oil products. The refinery uses progressive temperature changes to separate by vaporizing the chemical components of crude oil with different boiling points. These are distilled into usable products such as gasoline, fuel oil, lubricants and kerosene.

RDF (REFUSE DERIVED FUEL)
The fuel component of municipal solid waste (MSW), which is the by-product of shredding MSW to a uniform size, screening out oversized materials and isolating ferrous material in magnetic separation. The resulting RDF can be burned as a fuel source.

RENEWABLE ENERGY
Resources that constantly renew themselves or that are regarded as practically inexhaustible. These include solar, wind, geothermal, hydro and wood. Although particular geothermal formations can be depleted, the natural heat in the earth is a virtually inexhaustible reserve of potential energy. Renewable resources also include some experimental or less-developed sources such as tidal power, sea currents and ocean thermal gradients.

RETROFIT
Broad term that applies to any change after the original purchase, such as adding equipment not a part of the original purchase. As applied to alternative fuel vehicles, it refers to conversion devices or kits for conventional fuel vehicles. (Same as "aftermarket".).

2018