ⓘ 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, t ..

Energy density

ⓘ Energy density

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 is ignored. 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.


1. Introduction to energy density

There are 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 take place in 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. Liquid hydrocarbons fuels such as gasoline, diesel and kerosene are today the most dense way known to economically store and transport chemical energy at a very large scale 1 kg of diesel fuel burns with the oxygen contained in ~15 kg of air. Electrochemical reactions are used by most mobile devices such as laptop computers and mobile phones to release the energy from batteries.


2. Types of energy content

There are several different types of energy content. One is the theoretical total amount of thermodynamic work that can be derived from a system, with a given temperature and pressure for the surroundings. This is called exergy. Another is the theoretical amount of work that can be derived from reactants that are initially at room temperature and atmospheric pressure. This is given by the change in standard Gibbs free energy. But as a source of heat for use in a heat engine, the relevant quantity is the change in standard enthalpy or the heat of combustion.

There are two kinds of heat of combustion:

  • The lower value LHV, or net heat of combustion, does not include the heat which could be released by condensing water vapor, and may not include the heat released on cooling all the way down to room temperature.
  • The higher value HHV, or gross heat of combustion, includes all the heat released as the products cool to room temperature and whatever water vapor is present condenses.

A convenient table of HHV and LHV of some fuels can be found in the references.


3. Energy density in energy storage and in fuel

In energy storage applications the energy density relates the energy in 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.


3.1. Energy density in energy storage and in fuel Broad implications

Energy density differs from energy conversion efficiency net output per input or embodied energy. Large scale, intensive energy use impacts and is impacted by climate, waste storage, and environmental consequences.

No single energy storage method boasts the best in specific power, specific energy, and energy density. Peukerts law describes how the amount of useful energy that can be obtained for a lead-acid cell depends on how quickly it is pulled 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.

Alternative options are discussed for energy storage to increase energy density and decrease charging time.

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.


4. Tables of energy content

Unless otherwise stated, the values in the following table are lower heating values for perfect combustion not counting oxidizer mass or volume. The following unit conversions may be helpful when considering the data in the table: 3.6 MJ = 1 kW⋅h ≈ 1.34 hp⋅h.

Divide joule/m 3 by 10 6 to get MJ/L. Divide MJ/L by 3.6 to get kW⋅h/L.

The mechanical energy storage capacity, or resilience, of a Hookean material when it is deformed to the point of failure can be computed by calculating tensile strength times the maximum elongation dividing by two. The maximum elongation of a Hookean material can be computed by dividing stiffness of that material by its ultimate tensile strength. The following table lists these values computed using the Youngs modulus as measure of stiffness:

Table on energy content of batteries:


5. Nuclear energy sources

The greatest energy source by far is mass itself. This energy, E = mc 2, 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 0.1%, nuclear fusion 1%, 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 2018, 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, 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. Coal, gas, and petroleum are the current primary energy sources in the U.S. but have a much lower energy density. Burning local biomass fuels supplies household energy needs worldwide.


5.1. Nuclear energy sources Thermal power of nuclear fission reactors

The density of thermal energy contained in the core of a light water reactor PWR or BWR of typically 1 GWe 1 000 MW electrical corresponding to ~3 000 MW thermal is in the range of 10 to 100 MW of thermal energy per cubic meter of cooling water depending on the location considered in the system the core itself ~30 m 3, the reactor pressure vessel ~50 m 3, or the whole primary circuit ~300 m 3). This represents a considerable density of energy which requires under all circumstances a continuous water flow at high velocity in order to be able to remove the heat from the core, even after an emergency shutdown of the reactor. The incapacity to cool the cores of three boiling water reactors BWR at Fukushima in 2011 after the tsunami and the resulting loss of the external electrical power and of the cold source was the cause of the meltdown of the three cores in only a few hours, even though the three reactors were correctly shut down just after the Tōhoku earthquake. This extremely high power density distinguishes nuclear power plants NPPs from any thermal power plants burning coal, fuel or gas or any chemical plants and explains the large redundancy required to permanently control the neutron reactivity and to remove the residual heat from the core of NPPs.


6. Energy density of electric and magnetic fields

Electric and magnetic fields store energy. In a vacuum, the volumetric energy density is given by

u = ε 0 2 E 2 + 1 2 μ 0 B 2 {\displaystyle u={\frac {\varepsilon _{0}}{2}}\mathbf {E} ^{2}+{\frac {1}{2\mu _{0}}}\mathbf {B} ^{2}}

where E is the electric field and B is the magnetic field. The solution will be in SI units in Joules per cubic metre. In the context of magnetohydrodynamics, the physics of conductive fluids, the magnetic energy density behaves like an additional pressure that adds to the gas pressure of a plasma.

In normal linear and nondispersive substances, the energy density in SI units is

u = 1 2 E ⋅ D + H ⋅ B {\displaystyle u={\frac {1}{2}}\mathbf {E} \cdot \mathbf {D} +\mathbf {H} \cdot \mathbf {B}}

where D is the electric displacement field and H is the magnetizing field.

In the case of absence of magnetic fields, by exploiting Frohlichs relationships it is also possible to extend these equations to anisotropy and nonlinearity dielectrics, as well as to calculate the correlated Helmholtz free energy and entropy densities.

When a pulsed laser impacts a surface, the radiant exposure, i.e. the energy deposited per unit of surface, may be called energy density or fluence.

  • Energy or power density may refer to: Energy density the amount of energy stored in a given system or region of space per unit volume Power density the
  • is sometimes called energy flux density to distinguish it from the second definition. Radiative flux, heat flux, and sound energy flux are specific cases
  • radiant energy density is the radiant energy per unit volume. The SI unit of radiant energy density is the joule per cubic metre J m3 Radiant energy density
  • Power density is the amount of power time rate of energy transfer per unit volume. In energy transformers including batteries, fuel cells, motors, etc
  • Local - density approximations LDA are a class of approximations to the exchange correlation XC energy functional in density functional theory DFT
  • theorem defines an energy functional for the system and proves that the correct ground state electron density minimizes this energy functional. In work
  • constant energy density filling space homogeneously, and scalar fields such as quintessence or moduli, dynamic quantities whose energy density can vary
  • and kinetic energy Consequently, the sound energy in a volume of interest is defined as the sum of the potential and kinetic energy densities integrated
  • A strain energy density function or stored energy density function is a scalar valued function that relates the strain energy density of a material to
  • by density Air density Area density Bulk density Buoyancy Charge density Density prediction by the Girolami method Dord Energy density Lighter than air

Users also searched:

energy density of hydrogen fuel cell, energy density of hydrogen vs gasoline, energy density symbol, gasoline energy density wh/kg,