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# Energy density

Energy density
SI unit J/m3
In SI base units kg·m−1s−2
Derivations from
U = E/V
other quantities
Energy density is the amount of energy stored in a given system or region of space per unit volume.
Colloquially it may also be used for energy per unit mass, though the accurate term for this is specific energy.
Often only the useful or extractable energy is measured, which is to say that inaccessible energy (such as rest
mass energy) is ignored.[1] In cosmological and other general relativistic contexts, however, the energy
densities considered are those that correspond to the elements of the stress–energy tensor and therefore do
include mass energy as well as energy densities associated with the pressures described in the next paragraph.
Energy per unit volume has the same physical units as pressure, and in many circumstances is a synonym: for
example, the energy density of a magnetic field may be expressed as (and behaves as) a physical pressure, and
the energy required to compress a compressed gas a little more may be determined by multiplying the
difference between the gas pressure and the external pressure by the change in volume. In short, pressure is a
measure of the enthalpy per unit volume of a system. A pressure gradient has the potential to perform work on
the surroundings by converting enthalpy to work until equilibrium is reached.

Contents
• 1 Introduction to energy density
• 1.1 Energy densities of common energy storage materials
• 2 Energy density in energy storage and in fuel
• 2.1 Energy densities ignoring external components
• 3 Energy density of electric and magnetic fields

## Introduction to energy density

There are many different types of energy stored in materials, and it takes a particular type of reaction to
release each type of energy. In order of the typical magnitude of the energy released, these types of reactions
are: nuclear, chemical, electrochemical, and electrical.
Nuclear reactions are used by stars and nuclear power plants, both of which derive energy from the binding
energy of nuclei. Chemical reactions are used by animals to derive energy from food, and by automobiles to
derive energy from gasoline. Electrochemical reactions are used by most mobile devices such as laptop
computers and mobile phones to release the energy from batteries.

The following is a list of the thermal energy densities (that is to say: the amount of heat energy that can be
extracted) of commonly used or well-known energy storage materials; it doesn't include uncommon or
experimental materials. Note that this list does not consider the mass of reactants commonly available such as
the oxygen required for combustion or the energy efficiency in use. An extended version of this table is found
at Energy density#Extended Reference Table.
The following unit conversions may be helpful when considering the data in the table: 1 MJ ≈ 0.28 kWh ≈
0.37 HPh.

## Specific energy Energy density

Storage material Energy type Uses
(MJ/kg) (MJ/L)

## Deuterium (in Fusion

Nuclear fusion 87,900,000[2] 3,930,000 Experimental
reactor)
Uranium (in breeder) Nuclear fission 80,620,000[3] 1,539,842,000 Electric power plants
Thorium (in breeder) Nuclear fission 79,420,000[3] 929,214,000 Experimental
Plutonium 238 Nuclear decay 2,239,000 43,277,631 RTGs
Tritium Nuclear decay 583,529 ? Experimental
Hydrogen (compressed
Chemical 142 9.17 Rocket engines
at 700 bar)
Methane or Liquefied
natural gas Chemical 55.5 22.2 Cooking, home heating
(compressed)
Automotive engines,
Diesel Chemical 48 35.8
electric power plants
Cooking, home heating,
LPG (including
Chemical 46.4 26 automotive engines,
Propane / Butane)
lighter fluid
Automotive engines,
Gasoline (petrol) Chemical 46.4 34.2
electric power plants
Jet fuel (Kerosene) Chemical 42.8 [4] 37.4 Aircraft engines
Human and animal
Fat (animal/vegetable) Chemical 37 34
nutrition
Coal (anthracite or Electric power plants,
Chemical ~30 ~38
bituminous) home heating
Carbohydrates Human and animal
Chemical 17
(including sugars) nutrition
Human and animal
Protein Chemical 16.8
nutrition
Wood Chemical 16.2[5] 13 Home heating, cooking
TNT Chemical 4.610 6.92 Explosives
Gunpowder Chemical 3[citation needed] Explosives, Ammunition
Portable electronic
Lithium metal battery
Electrochemical 1.8 4.32 devices, flashlights, RC
(Li-Po, Li-Hv)
vehicles
Automotive motors,
Lithium-ion battery Electrochemical 0.36[6]–0.875[7] 0.9–2.63 portable electronic
devices, flashlights
Flywheel Mechanical .36 – .5 Power plants, Gyrobusses
Portable electronic
Alkaline battery Electrochemical 0.5[8] 1.3[8]
devices, flashlights
Nickel-metal hydride Portable electronic
Electrochemical 0.288 0.504–1.08
battery devices, flashlights
Specific energy Energy density
Storage material Energy type Uses
(MJ/kg) (MJ/L)

Automotive engine
ignition
Electrical 0.01-0.036[9][10] 0.05-0.06[9][10]
Supercapacitor (EDLC) Electronic circuits
(electrostatic) [11][12][13][14] [11][12][13][14]
Electrical 0.00001- 0.00001-0.001[15]
Electrostatic capacitor Electronic circuits
(electrostatic) 0.0002[15] [16][17]

## Energy capacities of common storage forms

Typical volume
Energy content Typical mass
Storage device Energy type (width × height × depth in
(Joule) (g)
mm)

## Alkaline AA battery[18] 9,360 Electrochemical 24 14.2 × 50

Alkaline C battery[18] 34,416 Electrochemical 65 26 × 46
NiMH AA battery 9,072 Electrochemical 26 14.2 × 50
NiMH C battery 19,440 Electrochemical 82 26 × 46
Lithium-ion 18650 battery 28,800 – 46,800 Electrochemical 44 – 49[19] 18 x 65
Potato Chip 41,900[20] Chemical 1.89 60 × 40 × 1
Ham and Cheese
1,470,000 Chemical 145 100 × 100 × 28
Sandwich[21]

## Selected energy densities plot

In energy storage applications the energy density relates the mass of an energy store to the volume of the
storage facility, e.g. the fuel tank. The higher the energy density of the fuel, the more energy may be stored or
transported for the same amount of volume. The energy density of a fuel per unit mass is called the specific
energy of that fuel. In general an engine using that fuel will generate less kinetic energy due to inefficiencies
and thermodynamic considerations—hence the specific fuel consumption of an engine will always be greater
than its rate of production of the kinetic energy of motion.

The greatest energy source by far is mass itself. This energy, E = mc2, where m = ρV, ρ is the mass per unit
volume, V is the volume of the mass itself and c is the speed of light. This energy, however, can be released
only by the processes of nuclear fission (.1%), nuclear fusion (1%),[citation needed] or the annihilation of
some or all of the matter in the volume V by matter-antimatter collisions (100%). Nuclear reactions cannot be
realized by chemical reactions such as combustion. Although greater matter densities can be achieved, the
density of a neutron star would approximate the most dense system capable of matter-antimatter annihilation
possible. A black hole, although denser than a neutron star, does not have an equivalent anti-particle form, but
would offer the same 100% conversion rate of mass to energy in the form of Hawking radiation. In the case of
relatively small black holes (smaller than astronomical objects) the power output would be tremendous.
The highest density sources of energy aside from antimatter are fusion and fission. Fusion includes energy
from the sun which will be available for billions of years (in the form of sunlight) but so far (2016), sustained
fusion power production continues to be elusive. Power from fission of uranium and thorium in nuclear power
plants will be available for many decades or even centuries because of the plentiful supply of the elements on
earth,[30] though the full potential of this source can only be realised through breeder reactors, which are,
apart from the BN-600 reactor, not yet used commercially.[31] Coal, gas, and petroleum are the current
primary energy sources in the U.S.[32] but have a much lower energy density. Burning local biomass fuels
supplies household energy needs (cooking fires, oil lamps, etc.) worldwide.
Energy density (how much energy you can carry) does not tell you about energy conversion efficiency (net
output per input) or embodied energy (what the energy output costs to provide, as harvesting, refining,
distributing, and dealing with pollution all use energy). Like any process occurring on a large scale, intensive
energy use impacts the world. For example, climate change, nuclear waste storage, and deforestation may be
some of the consequences of supplying our growing energy demands from hydrocarbon fuels, nuclear fission,
or biomass.
No single energy storage method boasts the best in specific power, specific energy, and energy density.
Peukert's Law describes how the amount of useful energy that can be obtained (for a lead-acid cell) depends
on how quickly we pull it out. To maximize both specific energy and energy density, one can compute the
specific energy density of a substance by multiplying the two values together, where the higher the number,
the better the substance is at storing energy efficiently.
Many researches proposed new options for energy storage to increase energy density and decrease charging
time.[33][34][35][36]
Gravimetric and volumetric energy density of some fuels and storage technologies (modified from the
Gasoline article):
Note: Some values may not be precise because of isomers or other irregularities. See Heating value for
a comprehensive table of specific energies of important fuels.
Note: Also it is important to realise that generally the density values for chemical fuels do not include
the weight of oxygen required for combustion. This is typically two oxygen atoms per carbon atom, and
one per two hydrogen atoms. The atomic weight of carbon and oxygen are similar, while hydrogen is
much lighter than oxygen. Figures are presented this way for those fuels where in practice air would
only be drawn in locally to the burner. This explains the apparently lower energy density of materials
that already include their own oxidiser (such as gunpowder and TNT), where the mass of the oxidiser in
effect adds dead weight, and absorbs some of the energy of combustion to dissociate and liberate
oxygen to continue the reaction. This also explains some apparent anomalies, such as the energy density
of a sandwich appearing to be higher than that of a stick of dynamite.
Energy densities ignoring external components
This table lists energy densities of systems that require external components, such as oxidisers or a heat sink
or source. These figures do not take into account the mass and volume of the required components as they are
assumed to be freely available and present in the atmosphere. Such systems cannot be compared with self-
contained systems. These values may not be computed at the same reference conditions.
Energy densities of energy medium
Specific Specific
Energy density Energy density
energy energy Peak Practical
Storage type recovery recovery
(MJ/L) (Wh/L)
(MJ/kg) (Wh/kg) efficiency % efficiency %

## 9×10 10 = Dependent on the

Antimatter density of the 100
c² antimatter's form.
Depends on Depends on
Plutonium-239 83,610 crystallographic 719,000 crystallographic
phase phase
141.86(H 39,405.6(
Hydrogen, HV) 10.044(HHV) HHV) 2,790.0(HHV)
liquid[37] 119.93(L 8.491(LHV) 33,313.9(L 2,358.6(LHV)
HV) HV)
141.86(H 39,405.6(
Hydrogen, at 690 HV) 5.323(HHV) HHV) 1,478.6(HHV)
bar and 15°C[37] 119.93(L 4.500(LHV) 33,313.9(L 1,250.0(LHV)
HV) HV)
141.86(H 39,405.6(
Hydrogen, HV) 0.01188(HHV) HHV) 3.3(HHV)
gas[37] 119.93(L 0.01005(LHV) 33,313.9(L 2.8(LHV)
HV) HV)
Diborane[38] 78.2 21,722.2
Beryllium 67.6 125.1 18,777.8 34,750.0
Lithium
65.2 43.4 18,111.1 12,055.6
borohydride
Boron[39] 58.9 137.8 16,361.1 38,277.8
Methane
(1.013 bar, 15 °C)
55.6 0.0378 * 15,444.5 10.5

## Natural gas 53.6[40] 0.0364 * 14,888.9 10.1

LNG (NG at
53.6[40] 22.2 * 14,888.9 6,166.7
−160 °C)
CNG (NG
compressed to
53.6[40] 9 * 14,888.9 2,500.0
250 bar/~3,600 ps
i)
LPG propane[41] 49.6 25.3 * 13,777.8 7,027.8
LPG butane[41] 49.1 27.7 * 13,638.9 7,694.5
Gasoline (petrol)
[41]
46.4 34.2 * 12,888.9 9,500.0
Polypropylene
46.4[42] 41.7 12,888.9 11,583.3
plastic
Specific Specific
Energy density Energy density
energy energy Peak Practical
Storage type recovery recovery
(MJ/L) (Wh/L)
(MJ/kg) (Wh/kg) efficiency % efficiency %

Polyethylene
46.3[42] 42.6 12,861.1 11,833.3
plastic
Crude oil
(according to the
definition of ton
46.3 37[40] * 12,861.1 10,277.8
of oil equivalent)
Residential
heating oil[41]
46.2 37.3 * 12,833.3 10,361.1

## Diesel fuel[41] 45.6 38.6 * 12,666.7 10,722.2

100LL Avgas 44.0[43] 31.59 12,222.2 8,775.0
Gasohol E10
(10% ethanol
90% gasoline by
43.54 33.18 * 12,094.5 9,216.7
volume)
Lithium 43.1 23.0 11,972.2 6,388.9
Jet A aviation
fuel[44]/kerosene
42.8 33 * 11,888.9 9,166.7
Biodiesel oil
(vegetable oil)
42.20 33 * 11,722.2 9,166.7
DMF (2,5-
dimethylfuran)
42[45] 37.8 11,666.7 10,500.0
[clarification
needed]
Polystyrene
41.4[42] 43.5 11,500.0 12,083.3
plastic
Body fat
metabolism
38 35 * 10,555.6 9,722.2 22[46]
Butanol 36.6 29.2 10,166.7 8,111.1
Gasohol E85
(85% ethanol 25.65[citation
33.1 9,194.5 7,125.0
15% gasoline by needed]
volume)
Graphite 32.7 72.9 9,083.3 20,250.0
Coal, 7,222.2 –
26 – 33 34 – 43 9444.5 – 11944.5 36
anthracite[47] 9,166.7
Silicon[48] 32.2 75.1 8,944.5 20,861.1
Aluminum 31.0 83.8 8,611.1 23,277.8
Ethanol 30 24 8,333.3 6,666.7
Polyester plastic 26.0[42] 35.6 7,222.2 9,888.9
Magnesium 24.7 43.0 6,861.1 11,944.5
Coal, 6666.7 –
24-35 26 – 49 7222.2 – 13611.1
bituminous[47] 9722.2
23.5
PET plastic (impure) 6,527.8
[49]
Specific Specific
Energy density Energy density
energy energy Peak Practical
Storage type recovery recovery
(MJ/L) (Wh/L)
(MJ/kg) (Wh/kg) efficiency % efficiency %

## Methanol 19.7 15.6 5,472.2 4,333.3

Hydrazine (toxic)
combusted to 19.5 19.3 5,416.7 5,361.1
N2+H2O
Liquid ammonia
(combusted to 18.6 11.5 5,166.7 3,194.5
N2+H2O)
PVC plastic
(improper
combustion toxic) 18.0[42] 25.2 5,000.0 7,000.0
[clarification
needed]
Wood[50] 18.0 5,000.0
Peat briquette[51] 17.7 4,916.7
Sugars,
carbohydrates,
and protein 17 26.2 (dextrose) 4,722.2 7,277.8 22[52]
metabolism[citati
on needed]
Calcium[citation
15.9 24.6 4,416.7 6,833.3
needed]
Glucose 15.55 23.9 4,319.5 6,638.9
Dry cow dung
15.5[53] 4,305.6
and cameldung
Coal,
2777.8 –
lignite[citation 10-20
5555.6
needed]
Sodium (burned
to wet sodium 13.3 12.8 3,694.5 3,555.6
hydroxide)
Sod peat 12.8 3,555.6
Nitromethane 11.3 3,138.9
Sulfur (burned to
sulfur dioxide) 9.23 19.11 2,563.9 5,308.3
[54]
Sodium (burned
to dry sodium 9.1 8.8 2,527.8 2,444.5
oxide)
Battery, lithium-
9.0[55] 2,500.0
air rechargeable
Household waste 8.0[56] 2,222.2
Zinc 5.3 38.0 1,472.2 10,555.6
Iron (burned to
5.2 40.68 1,444.5 11,300.0
iron(III) oxide)
Teflon plastic 5.1 11.2 1,416.7 3,111.1
Specific Specific
Energy density Energy density
energy energy Peak Practical
Storage type recovery recovery
(MJ/L) (Wh/L)
(MJ/kg) (Wh/kg) efficiency % efficiency %

(combustion
toxic, but flame
retardant)
Iron (burned to
4.9 38.2 1,361.1 10,611.1
iron(II) oxide)
ANFO 3.7 1,027.8
Battery, zinc-
1.59 6.02 441.7 1,672.2
air[57]
Liquid
nitrogen[clarifica 0.77[58] 0.62 213.9 172.2
tion needed]
Compressed air at
>50%[citation
300 bar (potential 0.5 0.2 138.9 55.6
needed]
energy)
Latent heat of
fusion of
0.335 0.335 93.1 93.1
ice[citation
needed] (thermal)
Water at 100 m 85-90%
dam height 0.001 0.001 0.277 0.3 [citation
(potential energy) needed]
Storage type Energy Energy density Specific Energy density Peak Practical
density by volume energy (Wh/L) recovery recovery
by mass (MJ/L) (Wh/kg) efficiency % efficiency %
(MJ/kg)
* Technically the actual value of the fuel alone is half the number indicated, because in order to burn the fuel

must be mixed with 2 parts oxygen to 1 part fuel. In an oxygen-free environment the actual value is 0 as the
fuel will not burn at all.

Divide joule metre−3 by 109 to get MJ/L. Divide MJ/L by 3.6 to get kWh/L.
Energy density Extended Reference Table

This is extended version of energy density table from the main page energy density:
Energy densities table
Practical
Specific energy Energy density Peak recovery
Storage type recovery
(MJ/kg) (MJ/L) efficiency %
efficiency %
depends on
Arbitrary Antimatter 89,875,517,874
density
Deuterium-tritium fusion 338,000,000
Uranium-235 used in nuclear
144,000,000 1,500,000,000
weapons
Natural uranium (99.3% U-238, 0.7%
86,000,000
U-235) in fast breeder reactor
3,456,000 30%
in light water reactor
Pu-238 α-decay 2,200,000
Hf-178m2 isomer 1,326,000 17,649,060
Natural uranium (0.7% U235) in
443,000 30%
light water reactor
Ta-180m isomer 41,340 689,964
Metallic hydrogen (recombination
216[1]
energy)
battery, Lithium-air 43.2
Specific orbital energy of Low Earth
33.0
orbit (approximate)
Beryllium + Oxygen 23.9[2]
23.75[citation
Lithium + Fluorine
needed]
15.8[citation
Hydrogen + Oxygen
needed]
Octaazacubane potential explosive 22.9[3]
Dinitroacetylene explosive -
9.8
computed[citation needed]
Octanitrocubane explosive 8.5[4] 16.9[5]
Tetranitrotetrahedrane explosive -
8.3
computed[citation needed]
Heptanitrocubane explosive -
8.2
computed[citation needed]
Sodium (reacted with chlorine)
7.0349
[citation needed]
Hexanitrobenzene explosive 7[6]
Tetranitrocubane explosive - 6.95
Practical
Specific energy Energy density Peak recovery
Storage type recovery
(MJ/kg) (MJ/L) efficiency %
efficiency %
computed[citation needed]
Ammonal (Al+NH4NO3 oxidizer)
6.9 12.7
[citation needed]
Tetranitromethane + hydrazine
bipropellant - computed[citation 6.6
needed]
Nitroglycerin 6.38[7] 10.2[8]
ANFO-ANNM[citation needed] 6.26
Octogen (HMX) 5.7[7] 10.8[9]
TNT [Kinney, G.F.; K.J. Graham
(1985). Explosive shocks in air.
4.610 6.92
Springer-Verlag. ISBN 3-540-15147-
8.][citation needed]
Copper Thermite (Al + CuO as
4.13 20.9
oxidizer)[citation needed]
Thermite (powder Al + Fe2O3 as
4.00 18.4
oxidizer)
Hydrogen peroxide decomposition
2.7 3.8
(as monopropellant)
95%
battery, Lithium ion nanowire 2.54 [clarification
needed][10]
battery, Lithium Thionyl Chloride
2.5
(LiSOCl2)[11]
Water 220.64 bar, 373.8°C[citation
1.968 0.708
needed][clarification needed]
Kinetic energy penetrator
1.9 30
[clarification needed]
battery, Fluoride ion[citation needed] 1.7 2.8
battery, Hydrogen closed cycle H
1.62
fuel cell[12]
Hydrazine (toxic) decomposition (as
1.6 1.6
monopropellant)
Ammonium nitrate decomposition
1.4 2.5
(as monopropellant)
Thermal Energy Capacity of Molten
1[citation needed] 98%[13]
Salt
Molecular spring
1
approximate[citation needed]
1.23[citation
battery, Sodium Sulfur .72[14] 85%[15]
needed]
battery, Lithium-manganese[16][17] 0.83-1.01 1.98-2.09
battery, Lithium ion[18][19] 0.46-0.72 0.83-3.6[20] 95%[21]
battery, Lithium Sulphur[22] 1.80[23] 1.80
battery (Sodium Nickel Chloride),
0.56
High Temperature
battery, Silver-oxide[16] 0.47 1.8
Practical
Specific energy Energy density Peak recovery
Storage type recovery
(MJ/kg) (MJ/L) efficiency %
efficiency %
Flywheel 0.36-0.5[24][25]
5.56 × 45 mm NATO
0.4 3.2
bullet[clarification needed]
battery, Nickel metal hydride
(NiMH), low power design as used in 0.4 1.55
consumer batteries[26]
battery, Zinc-manganese (alkaline),
0.4-0.59 1.15-1.43
long life design[16][18]
Liquid Nitrogen 0.349
Water - Enthalpy of Fusion 0.334 0.334
battery, Zinc Bromine flow (ZnBr)
0.27
[27]
battery, Nickel metal hydride
(NiMH), High Power design as used 0.250 0.493
in cars[28]
battery, Nickel cadmium (NiCd)[18] 0.14 1.08 80%[21]
battery, Zinc-Carbon[18] 0.13 0.331
0.09[citation
needed]
battery, Vanadium Bromide redox 0.18 0.252 80%–90%[29]
0.050[citation
Capacitor Ultracapacitor 0.0199[30]
needed]
0.01[citation 80%–
Capacitor Supercapacitor 39%–70%[31]
needed] 98.5%[31]
Superconducting magnetic energy
0.008[32] >95%
storage
Capacitor 0.002[33]
Neodymium magnet 0.003[34]
Ferrite magnet 0.0003[34]
Spring power (clock spring), torsion
0.0003[35] 0.0006
spring
Energy density Practical
Energy density Peak recovery
Storage type by volume recovery
by mass (MJ/kg) efficiency %
(MJ/L) efficiency %