The Physics
Factbook
An encyclopedia of scientific essays

Energy in a Barrel of Petroleum

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Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Standardized
Result
Brown, Theodore L., H. Eugene LeMay, Jr., Bruce E. Bursten and Julia R. Burdge. Chemistry the Central Science. 9th ed. Upper Saddle River; NJ: Prentice Hall, 2003. Fuel Value (kJ/g)
Crude oil (Texas) 45
6.25 GJ
Lide, David R., Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, 88 ed. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, 2008. Name (kj/mol)
Hexane 4163.2
6.72 GJ
McKinney, Michael L. and Robert M. Schoch, Environmental Science, Jones & Bartlett Publishers, 2003. "A typical barrel of petroleum may produce between 5 and 6 million BTUs of energy when completely burned." 6.50 GJ
Beach, Frederick Converse & George Edwin Rines. The Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts and sciences, literature, history, biography, geography, commerce etc. of the world, Vol. 16. New York: Scientific American, 1912: n.p. 1250 pounds petroleum = 2000 pounds coal
312 pounds petroleum = 1 barrel of petroleum
7.99 GJ
Energy notes: Energy in natural processes & human consumption [pdf]. EUWorld.
Energy Content of Fuels (in Joules)
Energy Unit Joules Equivalent (SI)
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 × 107
pound of gasoline 2.2 × 107
pound of oil 2.4 × 107
pound of Uranium-235 3.7 × 1013
ton of coal 3.2 × 1010
ton of Uranium-235 7.4 × 1016
6.1 GJ

Fossil fuels are the principal source of energy that powers the world today. Fossil fuels are hydrocarbons that are found within the top later of the Earth's crust, consisting of fossilized remains of organic matter. It's ironic how living things from millions and millions of years ago fuel our economy and play such a significant role in our world today. It is very important and vital to the global economy, mainly because we are so dependent of petroleum. With the emergence of crude oil, it opened up a industry to a myriad of petroleum-based products including plastics, fabrics, coatings, medications, cosmetics and the entire world of petrochemicals that permeate modern life. People commonly misconceive petroleum or crude oil as just gasoline.

Petroleum consists of hydrocarbons in the form of alkanes or cycloalkanes. They consist mostly of hydrogen, carbon, sulfur and oxygen. One of the primary constituents of petroleum is hexane (C6H14). The amount of energy released when burned is 4163.2 kJ/mole. You multiply that value by the mass of 1 mole of petroleum. Afterwards you get the value in kJ/gram. Multiply that value by how much mass per liter of petroleum there is. Multiply the final value by how many liters there are in 1 barrel of petroleum and you receive the approximate value of 6.72 GJ. Petroleum is extracted from the bowels of the Earth and then pumped from the deposits and carried to large industrial plants for purification. The most commonly measured unit for US oil is in barrels, which is equivalent to 42 gallons. Petroleum releases approximately 6.1 GJ per barrel when completely burned.

Benny Wong -- 2009

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