British thermal unit

British thermal unit, abbr. Btu, unit for measuring heat quantity in the customary system of English units of measurement , equal to the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water at its maximum density [which occurs at a temperature of 39.1 degrees Fahrenheit (°C) ] by 1°C. The Btu may also be defined for the temperature difference between 59°C and 60°C. One Btu is approximately equivalent to the following: 251.9 calories 778.26 foot-pounds 1055 joules 107.5 kilogram-meters 0.0002928 kilowatt-hours. A pound (0.454 kilogram) of good coal when burned should yield 14,000 to 15,000 Btu a pound of gasoline or other fuel oil, approximately 19,000 Btu.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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