Want a surefire bet to be hipper at the Department of Energy?

Well, I have no idea.

But I do know how to have a bit more fun: learn the energy slang.

Folks in the energy sector have  some great nicknames for the energy infrastructure and processes they use every day. Here are a few:


Electricity "wheeling" is when electricity is moved through a local grid for use in another area.



Christmas Tree

A Christmas tree is a set of valves, pipes, and fittings used to control the flow of oil and gas as it leaves a well and enters a pipeline.



A "doghouse" is a small house located on the floor of an oil or gas rig that is usually used as an office or storage area.


Cat Cracker

A catalytic cracker, or "cat cracker," is the basic gasoline-making process in a refinery. The cat cracker uses high temperatures, low pressure, and a catalyst to create a chemical reaction that breaks heavy gas oil into smaller gasoline molecules. With a cat cracker, more of each barrel of oil can be turned into gasoline.

Yellow Cake

"Yellowcake" is another name for uranium oxide, named for its color and texture. After uranium is mined and separated from ore, it is made into "yellowcake" and shipped to a conversion plant for more processing. Uranium must first be converted into a gas and then go through a long process of enrichment before it can be used by a nuclear power plant.


A "can" is a building where nuclear reactors are contained.




A "wildcat" is a well that is not drilled in a proven field.



You can learn a bunch more slang and whole lot more about energy in the EIA's kids section. Don't worry. I won't tell anyone you're not a kid.

Ginny Simmons is a new media specialist with the Office of Public Affairs.