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What is the equivalent of 1 ton of coal in terms of other heating fuels?

Learn how other fuels compare to coal for heat and energy.

Coal being loaded onto a railcar.  [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Coal being loaded onto a railcar.

Below is listed some comparisons (approximate equivalents) for the energy sources as of 1990:

Energy unit

Equivalent

1 BTU of energy

1 match tip

250 calories (International Steam Table)

0.25 kilocalories (food calories)

1,000 BTU of energy

2 5-ounce glasses of wine

250 kilocalories (food calories)

0.8 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

1 million BTU of energy

90 pounds of coal

120 pounds of oven-dried hardwood

8 gallons of motor gasoline

10 therms of dry natural gas

11 gallons of propane

2 months of the dietary intake of a laborer

1 quadrillion BTU of energy

45 million short tons of coal

60 million short tons of oven-dried hardwood

1 trillion cubic feet of dry natural gas

170 million barrels of crude oil

470 thousand barrels of crude oil per day for 1 year

28 days of U.S. petroleum imports

26 days of U.S. motor gasoline

26 hours of world energy use (1989)

1 barrel of crude oil

5.6 thousand cubic feet of dry natural gas

0.26 short tons (520 pounds) of coal

1,700 kilowatthours of electricity

1 short ton of coal


3.8 barrels of crude oil

21 thousand cubic feet of dry natural gas

6,500 kilowatt hours of electricity


1,000 cubic feet

of natural gas

0.18 barrels (7.4 gallons) of crude oil

0.05 short tons (93 pounds) of coal

300 kilowatthours of electricity

1,000 kilowatthours

of electricity

0.59 barrels of crude oil

0.15 short tons (310 pounds) of coal

3,300 cubic feet of dry natural gas

Notes: One quadrillion equals 1,000,000,000,000,000.

Because of energy losses associated with the generation of electricity, about three times as much fossil fuel is required to generate 1,000 kilowatthours: 1.8 barrels of oil, 0.47 short tons of coal, or 10,000 cubic feet of dry natural gas.

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