Energy Unit Conversion Factors

Wood Energy April 28, 2011 Print Friendly and PDF

Energy Units

This is a short reference of conversion factors used by scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

  • 1 BTU (British Thermal Unit) = 1055 Joules
  • 1 kW (Kilowatt) = 3413 BTU/hr = 1.341 horsepower
  • 1 kWh (Kilowatt-hour) = 3.6 MJ = 3413 BTU
  • 1 BOE (Barrel of Oil Equivalent) = ~ 5.8 Million BTU = 1,700 kWh
  • 1 TOE (Tonne of Oil Equivalent) = 11.67 MWh = 11,670 kWh = 6.86 BOE
  • 1 US Ton = 2000 pounds
  • 1 Tonne = 1000 Kilograms = 2205 pounds = 0.907 Ton
  • 1 Hectare = 2.47 Acres

Some woody biomass conversion factors commonly used by natural resource managers [Provided courtesy of TSS Consultants at http://www.tssconsultants.com\].

  • 1 green ton (GT) of chips = 2000 lb (not adjusted for moisture)
  • 1 bone dry ton (BDT) of chips = 2000 dry lb (assumes no moisture content) = 4000 green lb @ 50% moisture content
  • 1 bone dry unit (BDU) of chips = 2400 dry lb (assumes no moisture content)
  • 1 unit of chips = 200 cubic feet
  • 1 ccf (hundred cubic feet) roundwood = 1.0 BDU chips
  • 1 ccf roundwood = 1.2 BDT chips
  • 1 ccf roundwood = 1.2 cords roundwood @ 85 cu. ft. wood/cord)
  • 1 BDT chips = 2 GT green tons (@ 50% moisture content)
  • 1 GT of logs = 160 BF of lumber (board feet)
  • 6 GT of logs = 1 MBF of lumber (thousand board feet)

One standard chip van carries 25 GT (green tons) or approximately 12.5 BDT assuming 50% moisture content. When woody ] is utilized in a commercial-scale (10+ MW electrical output) power generation facility, the following general energy output rules apply ([Provided courtesy of TSS Consultants at http://www.tssconsultants.com\

  • 1 BDT fuel will produce 10,000 lb of steam
  • 10,000 lb of steam will generate 1 MWH (megawatt hour) of electricity
  • 1 MWH = 1,000 horsepower
  • 1 MWH = power for approximately 750 to 1,000 homes

There are also energy unit conversion websites that may be of interest and use: Energy Converter

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There are many factors that help determine the use woody biomass for energy production.  Below we consider the decision-making points involved in the process.  

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USDA / NIFA

This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.