Fuels - Higher and Lower Calorific Values

Higher and lower calorific values (=heating values) for some common fuels - coke, oil, wood, hydrogen and others

Energy content or calorific value is the same as the heat of combustion, and can be calculated from thermodynamical values, or measured in a suitable apparatus:

A known amount of the fuel is burned at constant pressure and under standard conditions (0°C and 1 bar) and the heat released is captured in a known mass of water in a calorimeter. If the initial and final temperatures of the water is measured, the energy released can be calculated using the equation

H = ΔT mCp

where H = heat energy absorbed (in J), ΔT = change in temperature (in °C), m = mass of water (in g), and Cp = specific heat capacity (4.18 J/g°C for water). The resulting energy value divided by grams of fuel burned gives the energy content (in J/g).

The combustion process generates water vapor and certain techniques may be used to recover the quantity of heat contained in this water vapor by condensing it.

  • Higher Calorific Value (= Gross Calorific Value - GCV = Higher Heating Value - HHV) -  the water of combustion is entirely condensed and the heat contained in the water vapor is recovered
  • Lower Calorific Value (= Net Calorific Value - NCV  = Lower Heating Value - LHV) - the products of combustion contains the water vapor and the heat in the water vapor is not recovered

The table below gives the gross and net heating value of fossil fuels as well as some alternative biobased fuels.

See also Heat of combustion, Fossil and Alternative Fuels - Energy Content and Combustion of Fuels - Carbon Dioxide Emission

Fuel Density Higher Heating Value (HHV)
(Gross Calorific Value - GCV)
Lower Heating Value (LHV)
(Net Calorific Value - NCV)
@0°C/32°F, 1 bar
Gaseous fuels [kg/m3] [g/ft3] [kWh/kg] [MJ/kg] [Btu/lb] [MJ/m3] [Btu/ft3] [kWh/kg] [MJ/kg] [Btu/lb] [MJ/m3] [Btu/ft3]
Acetylene 1.097 31.1 13.9 49.9 21453 54.7 1468
Hydrogen 0.090 2.55 39.4 141.7 60920 12.7 341 33.3 120.0 51591 10.8 290
Methane 0.716 20.3 15.4 55.5 23874 39.8 1069 13.9 50.0 21496 35.8 964
Natural gas (US marked)* 0.777 22.0 14.5 52.2 22446 40.6 1090 13.1 47.1 20262 36.6 983
Town gas 18.0 483
@15°C/60°F, 1 bar
Liquid fuels [kg/l] [g/gal] [kWh/kg] [MJ/kg] [Btu/lb] [MJ/l] [Btu/gal] [kWh/kg] [MJ/kg] [Btu/lb] [MJ/l] [Btu/gal]
Acetone 0.787 2.979 8.83 31.8 13671 25.0 89792 8.22 29.6 12726 23.3 83580
Butane 0.601 3.065 13.64 49.1 21109 29.5 105875 12.58 45.3 19475 27.2 97681
Butanol 0.810 10.36 37.3 16036 30.2 108359 9.56 34.4 14789 27.9 99934
Diesel fuel* 0.846 3.202 12.67 45.6 19604 38.6 138412 11.83 42.6 18315 36.0 129306
Dimethyl ether (DME) 0.665 2.518 8.81 31.7 13629 21.1 75655 8.03 28.9 12425 19.2 68973
Ethane 0.572 2.165 14.42 51.9 22313 29.7 106513 13.28 47.8 20550 27.3 98098
Ethanol (100%) 0.789 2.987 8.25 29.7 12769 23.4 84076 7.42 26.7 11479 21.1 75583
Diethyl ether (ether) 0.716 2.710 11.94 43.0 18487 30.8 110464
Gasoline (petrol)* 0.737 2.790 12.89 46.4 19948 34.2 122694 12.06 43.4 18659 32.0 114761
Gas oil (heating oil)* 0.84 3.180 11.95 43.0 18495 36.1 129654 11.89 42.8 18401 36.0 128991
Glycerin 1.263 4.781 5.28 19.0 8169 24.0 86098
Heavy fuel oil* 0.98 3.710 11.61 41.8 17971 41.0 146974 10.83 39.0 16767 38.2 137129
Kerosene* 0.821 3.108 11.94 43.0 18487 35.3 126663 11.94 43.0 18487 35.3 126663
Light fuel oil* 0.96 3.634 12.22 44.0 18917 42.2 151552 11.28 40.6 17455 39.0 139841
LNG* 0.428 1.621 15.33 55.2 23732 23.6 84810 13.50 48.6 20894 20.8 74670
LPG* 0.537 2.033 13.69 49.3 21195 26.5 94986 12.64 45.5 19561 24.4 87664
Marine gas oil* 0.855 3.237 12.75 45.9 19733 39.2 140804 11.89 42.8 18401 36.6 131295
Methanol 0.791 2.994 6.39 23.0 9888 18.2 65274 5.54 19.9 8568 15.8 56562
Methyl ester (biodiesel) 0.888 3.361 11.17 40.2 17283 35.7 128062 10.42 37.5 16122 33.3 119460
MTBE 0.743 2.811 10.56 38.0 16337 28.2 101244 9.75 35.1 15090 26.1 93517
Oils vegetable (biodiesel)* 0.92 3.483 11.25 40.5 17412 37.3 133684 10.50 37.8 16251 34.8 124772
Paraffin (wax)* 0.90 3.407 12.78 46.0 19776 41.4 148538 11.53 41.5 17842 37.4 134007
Pentane 0.63 2.385 13.50 48.6 20894 30.6 109854 12.60 45.4 19497 28.6 102507
Petroleum naphtha* 0.725 2.745 13.36 48.1 20679 34.9 125145 12.47 44.9 19303 32.6 116819
Propane 0.498 1.885 13.99 50.4 21647 25.1 89963 12.88 46.4 19927 23.1 82816
Residual oil* 0.991 3.752 41.8 150072 10.97 39.5 16982 39.2 140470
Tar* 10.00 36.0 15477
Turpentine 0.865 3.274 12.22 44.0 18917 38.1 136555
Solid fuels* [kWh/kg] [MJ/kg] [Btu/lb] [kWh/kg] [MJ/kg] [Btu/lb]
Anthracite coal 9.06 32.6 14015
Bituminous coal 8.39 30.2 12984 8.06 29.0 12468
Carbon 9.11 32.8 14101
Charcoal 8.22 29.6 12726 7.89 28.4 12210
Coke 7.22 26.0 11178
Lignite (brown coal) 3.89 14.0 6019
Peat 4.72 17.0 7309
Petroleum coke 8.69 31.3 13457 8.19 29.5 12683
Semi anthracite 8.19 29.5 12683
Sub-Bituminous coal 6.78 24.4 10490
Sulfur (s) 2.56 9.2 3955 2.55 9.2 3939
Wood (dry) 0.701 4.50 16.2 6965 4.28 15.4 6621

* Fuels which consist of a mixture of several different compounds may vary in quality between seasons and markeds. The given values are for fuels with the given density. The variation in quality may give heating values within a range 5 -10% higher and lower than the given value. Also the solid fuels will have a similar quality variation for the different classes of fuel.

  • 1 Btu(IT)/lb = 2.3278 MJ/t = 2327.8 J/kg = 0.55598 kcal/kg = 0.000646 kWh/kg
  • 1 kcal/kg = 1 cal/g = 4.1868 MJ/t = 4186.8 J/kg = 1.8 Btu(IT)/lb = 0.001162 kWh/kg
  • 1 MJ/kg = 1000 J/g = 1 GJ/t  = 238.85 kcal/kg = 429.9 Btu(IT)/lb = 0.2778 kWh/kg
  • 1 kWh/kg = 1547.7 Btu(IT)/lb = 3.597 GJ/t = 3597.1 kJ/kg = 860.421 kcal/kg
  • 1 Btu(IT)/ft3 = 0.1337 Btu(IT)/gal(US liq) = 0.03531 Btu(IT)/l = 8.89915 kcal/m3 = 3.7259x104 J/m3
  • 1 Btu(IT)/gal(US liq) = 0.2642 Btu(IT)/l = 7.4805 Btu(IT)/ft3 = 66.6148  kcal/m3 = 2.7872x105 J/m3
  • 1 MJ/m3 = 26.839 Btu(IT)/ft3 = 3.5879 Btu(IT)/gal(US liq) = 0.94782 Btu(IT)/l = 239.01 kcal/m3
  • 1 kcal/m3 = 0.11237 Btu(IT)/ft3 = 0.01501 Btu(IT)/gal(US liq) = 0.003966 Btu(IT)/l  = 4186.8 J/m3

Related Topics

  • HVAC Systems - Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems - design and dimensions
  • Combustion - Boiler house topics - fuels like oil, gas, coal, wood - chimneys, safety valves, tanks - combustion efficiency

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