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Combustion of Fuels - Carbon Dioxide Emission

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To calculate the Carbon Dioxide - CO 2 - emission from a fuel, the carbon content of the fuel must be multiplied with the ratio of molecular weight of CO 2 (44) to the molecular weight of Carbon (12) -> 44 / 12 = 3.7

Carbon Dioxide emission from burning a fuel can be calculated as

q CO2 = c f / h f M CO2 /M m [1]


q CO2 = specific CO 2 emission [kg CO2 /kWh]
c f = specific carbon content in the fuel [kg C /kg fuel ]
h f = specific energy content in the fuel [kWh/kg fuel ]
M C = Molecular weight Carbon [kg/kmol Carbon]
M CO2 = Molecular weight Carbon Dioxide [kg/kmol CO 2 ]

Emission of CO 2 from combustion of some common fuels are indicated in the table below.

Note! Heat loss - 55-75% - in power generation is not included in the numbers.

See also Heat of combustion , Fuels - Higher and Lower Calorific Values and Fossil and alternative fuels - energy content .

For full table with Specific CO2 emission - rotate the screen!

Combustion of Fuels - Carbon Dioxide Emission
Fuel Liquid density Specific
carbon content
Energy content
Specific CO 2 emission
(amount of fuel basis)
Specific CO 2 emission
(amount of energy basis)
kg/l kg C /kg fuel kWh/kg fuel Btu/lb fuel Kg CO2 /kg fuel Kg CO2 /gal fuel lb CO2 /gal fuel kg CO2 /kWh kg CO2 /GJ lb CO2 /mill Btu
(natural gas)
0.75 15.4 23900 2.75 0.18 50 115
Propane 0.510 0.82 13.8 21300 2.99 5.78 12.7 0.22 60 140
Butane 0.564 0.83 13.6 21100 3.03 6.47 14.3 0.22 62 144
(wt of C3=C4)
0.537 0.82 13.7 21200 3.01 6.12 13.5 0.22 61 142
Gasoline 0.737 0.90 12.9 19900 3.30 9.20 20.3 0.26 71 165.3
Kerosene (Jet) 0.821 0.82 12.0 18500 3.00 9.33 20.6 0.25 70 162.5
Diesel 0.846 0.86 12.7 19605 3.15 10.1 22.3 0.25 69 160.8
Heavy fuel oil
(No.6/Bunker C)


11.6 18000 3.11 11.6 25.5 0.27 75 173.3
Petroleum coke 0.89 9.4 14500 3.26 14.7 32.4 0.35 97 225.1
Coal: 227.3
Anthracite 0.92 9.0 14000 3.37 0.37 104 229.5
Bituminous 0.65 8.4 13000 2.38 0.28 79 231.7
Subbituminous 0.4 6.8 10500 1.47 0.22 60 233.9
Lignite 0.3 3.9 6000 1.10 0.28 79 236.1
Coke 0.77 7.2 11200 2.82 0.39 108 251.5
Peat (dry) 1) 0.52 4.7 7300 1.91 0.40 112 260.7
Ethanol fuel (E100) 2) 0.789 0.52 8.3 12800 1.91 5.71 12.6 0.23 64 149.6
Methanol fuel (M100) 2) 0.791 0.37 5.5 8500 1.37 4.11 9.1 0.25 70 162.2
(B100) 2)
0.880 0.78 11.3 17400 2.85 9.48 20.9 0.25 70 162.8
Wood 1) 2) 0.50 4.5 7000 1.83 0.41 113 263.1
Bio energy 2) 0 2)

1) Commonly viewed as a Bio fuel.
2) Bio Energy is produced from biomass derived from any renewable organic plant, including

  • dedicated energy crops and trees
  • agricultural food and feed crops
  • agricultural crop wastes and residues
  • wood wastes
  • aquatic plants
  • animal wastes
  • municipal wastes and other waste materials

Emissions of CO 2 can contribute to climate change. Combustion of bio energy don't add to the total emission of carbon dioxide as long as the burned bio mass don't exceed the renewed production (within a reasonable time), or it is not transformed in processes requiring CO 2 -forming energy. The recycling of carbon from wood combustion is virtually instantaneous and continuous and it is also common to regard the net supply of CO 2 to the atmosphere from combustion of wood close to zero.

If the time of renewed production of the organic material is long (typically 50 year++), the the positive climate effect can be questioned. The renewed production rate of wood and peat varies with geography and climate.

A variety of bio fuels can be made from bio mass resources, including

  • ethanol
  • methanol
  • biodiesel
  • Fischer-Tropsch diesel
  • gaseous fuels like hydrogen or methane

Production of all these bio fuels requires energy, and the total CO 2 gain depend on how much CO 2 -releasing energy that is necessary to transform the bio mass to bio fuel. Biodiesel production via Fischer-Tropsch synthesis is typically a high energy demanding process, and the CO 2 gain compared to conventional diesel is low if the processing is run with energy with high CO 2 emissions.

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