Power conversion charts


Source: http://physics.syr.edu/courses/modules/ENERGY/ENERGY_POLICY/tables.html  

Rough Values of Power of Various Processes (watts)

Solar power in all directions 1027
Solar power incident on earth 1017
Solar power avg. on U.S. 1015
Solar power consumed in photosynthesis 1014
U.S. power consumption rate 1013
U.S. electrical power 1012
Large electrical generating plant 109
Automobile at 40 mph 105
Solar power on roof of U.S. home 104
U.S. citizen consumption rate 104
Electric stove 104
Solar power per m2 on U.S. surface 102
One light bulb 102
Food consumption rate per capita U.S. 102
Electric razor 101


Energy Content of Fuels (in Joules)

Energy Unit Joules Equivalent (S.I.)
gallon of gasoline 1.3×108
AA battery 103
standard cubic foot of natural gas (SCF) 1.1×106
candy bar 106
barrel of crude oil (contains 42 gallons) 6.1×109
pound of coal 1.6 x 107
pound of gasoline 2.2 x 107
pound of oil 2.4 x 107
pound of Uranium-235 3.7 x 1013
ton of coal 3.2 x 1010
ton of Uranium-235 7.4 x 1016


Energy Conversions

Energy Unit Equivalent        
1 Btu 1055 joules or 778 ft­lb or 252 cal
1 calorie 4.184 joules        
1 food Calorie 1000 calories or 1 kilocalorie    
1 hp­hr 2.68 106 joules or 0.746 kwh    
1 kwh 3.61106 joules or 3413 Btu    
1 eV 1.610-19 joules        

 Fuel Requirements for a 1000­MWe Power Plant

(2.4 1011 Btu/day energy input)

Coal: 9000 tons/day of 1 “unit train load” (100 90 – ton cars/day) Oil: 40,000 bbl/day or 1 tanker per week (note: “bbl” means barrels) 

Natural Gas: 2.4 l08 SCF/day 

Uranium (as 235U): 3 kg/day

Note: 1000 MWe utility, at 60% load factor, generates 5.3109 kwh/year,

enough for a city of about 1 million people in the U.S.A.

(Note: MWE is an abbreviation for megawatts-electrical output)

Geographic Energy Needs

U.S. Total Energy Consumption (1990)

= 82.11015 Btu (82.1 Quads) = 38.8 MBPD oil equivalent = 86.6109 GJ


Everyday Usage and Energy Equivalencies

1 barrel of oil = driving 1400 km (840 miles) in average car 

1 kwh electricity 

= 1½ hours of operation of standard air conditioner 

= 92 days for electric clock 

= 24 hours for color TV

  One million Btu equals approximately

90 pounds of coal 

125 pounds of oven­dried wood 

8 gallons of motor gasoline 

10 therms of natural gas 

1.1 day energy consumption per capita in the U.S.


Power Tables

Power is the amount of energy used per unit time – or

how fast energy is being used.

If we multiply a unit of power by a unit of time, the result is

a unit of energy. Example: kilowatt-hour.


Power Conversions

1 watt 1 joule/s or 3.41 Btu/hr    
1 hp   or 2545 Btu/hr or 746 watts


Power Converted to Watts

Quantity Equivalent
1 Btu per hour 0.293 W
1 joule per second 1 W
1 kilowatt-hour per day 41.7 W
1 food Calorie per minute 69.77 W
1 horsepower 745.7 W
1 kilowatt 1000 W
1 Btu per second 1054 W
1 gallon of gasoline per hour 39 kW
1 million barrels of oil per day 73 GW


Rough Values of the Energies of Various Occurrences

Occurrence Energy (J)
Creation of the Universe 1068
Emission from a radio galaxy 1055
E = mc2 of the Sun 1047
Supernova explosion 1044
Yearly solar emission 1034
Earth moving in orbit 1033
D-D fusion energy possible from worlds oceans 1031
Earth spinning 1029
Earth’s annual sunshine 1025
Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction theory meteorite 1023
Energy available from earth’s fossil fuels 1023
Yearly U.S. sunshine 1023
Annual tidal friction 1020
U.S. energy consumption 1020
Exploding volcano (Krakatoa) 1019
Severe earthquake (Richter 8) 1018
100-megaton H-bomb 1017
Fission one ton of Uranium 1017
E = mc2 of 1 kilogram 1017
Burning a million tons of coal 1016
Energy to create Meteor Crater in Arizona 1016
1000-MW power station (1 year) 1016
Hurricane 1015
Thunderstorm 1015
Atomic Bomb (Hiroshima) 1014
E = mc2 of 1 gram 1014
Energy to put the space shuttle in orbit 1013
Energy used in one year per capita U.S. 1012
Atlantic crossing (one way) of jet airliner 1012
Saturn V rocket 1011
Energy to heat a house for one year 1011
D-D fusion energy possible from 1 gal. of water 1011
One year of electricity for the average house 1010
Lightening bolt 1010
Burning a cord of wood 1010
One gallon of gasoline 108
100-W light bulb left on for one day 107
Human daily diet 107
One day of heavy manual labor 107
Explosion of 1 kg of TNT 106
Woman running for 1 hr 106
Candy bar 106
Burning match 103
1AA battery (alkaline) 103
Hard-hit baseball 103
Lifting an apple 1 m 1
Human heartbeat 0.5
Depressing typewriter key 10-2
Cricket chirrup 10-3
Hopping flea 10-7
Proton accelerated to high energy (one trillion eV) 10-7
Fission of 1 uranium nucleus 10-11
Energy released in D-D fusion 10-12
Electron mass-energy 10-13
Chemical reaction per atom 10-18
Photon of light 10-19
Energy of room-temperature air molecule 10-21


Cost of Various Fuels

Type Unit Cost/Unit Uses
Electricity 1 Kwh $0.10 appliances, motors
Gasoline 1 gallon 1.20 transportation
Natural Gas 1 Therm 0.60 heating
AA battery 1 battery 0.80 portable electronics
Milky Way candy bar 1 bar 0.60 food


 Worldwide Power Use-History

“Developed” countries average (1990):  

·   1.2 billion people 7.5 kilowatts/per person = 9.0 terawatts

The rest of the world (1990):  

·  4.1 billion people 1.1 kilowatts/person = 4.5 terawatts

World Population (est.)
(billion persons)
Year Average Power Use
5.5 1990 13.5
3.6 1970 8.4
2.5 1959 3.2
2.0 1930 2.3
1.7 1910 1.6
1.5 1890 1




How much energy is there in a barrel of



Q: With oil prices around $100 a barrel and gasoline at $4 a gallon, is it really worth that much? How much energy is in a barrel of oil anyhow?

A: First, oil barrels are not the same size as the 55-gallon drums that are in common use today. An oil barrel is only about 75 percent as large at 42 gallons. Although the barrel is used as the unit of measure, actual barrels are no longer used to ship crude oil. The history of the barrel dates to the early days of oil production in Pennsylvania oil fields in the 1860s. There was no standard container, so oil producers used whatever containers were commonly available. According to the Oil Region Alliance of Business Industry & Tourism in Venango County, the 40-gallon whiskey barrel was readily available and most commonly used. The 42-gallon barrel became standard by 1872, the two extra gallons were apparently added to ensure that customers would get at least 40 gallons. It seems there was distrust of the oil industry from the beginning.

Although different grades of crude vary, the average energy of a 42-gallon barrel of oil is 5.8 million Btu, or British thermal units. By definition, one Btu of energy will raise 1 pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit, so about 75 Btu are needed to boil a cup of water to make your morning coffee or tea.

The 5.8 million Btu figure was established by the IRS for energy tax purposes and is called a Barrel of Oil Equivalent, or BOE. One barrel of oil has the same energy content as 5,800 cubic feet of natural gas. A cubic foot of natural gas contains about 1,000 Btu. For electricity, 1 barrel is 1,700 kilowatt hours.

1 barrel = 1,700 kilowatt hours.

So, is oil really worth $100 a barrel? Another way of looking at it is to compare oil to a horse. A horse laboring a standard 40-hour work week (eight hours a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year) would have to labor for more than one year to produce the energy in a barrel of oil. Do you think a horse could be fed and maintained for a year for $100? Not likely.

Human labor is even worse. A fit human adult can sustain about one-tenth of a horsepower, so a human would have to labor more than 10 years to equal a barrel of oil.

Oil and oil products have the advantages of being easily combustible with high energy content. Additionally, oil is widely available and is easily transported through ocean tankers, tank trucks and pipelines. Gasoline and diesel fuel are easily and safely dispensed into our vehicles, and heating oil is similarly delivered to our homes.

The Morning Call


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