Energy density

In physics, energy density is the amount of energy stored in a given system or region of space per unit volume. It is sometimes confused with energy per unit mass which is properly called specific energy or gravimetric energy density.

Energy density
SI unitJ/m3
Other units
J/L, W⋅h/L
In SI base unitsm−1⋅kg⋅s−2
Derivations from
other quantities
U = E/V

Often only the useful or extractable energy is measured, which is to say that inaccessible energy (such as rest mass energy) is ignored.[1] In cosmological and other general relativistic contexts, however, the energy densities considered are those that correspond to the elements of the stress–energy tensor and therefore do include mass energy as well as energy densities associated with pressure.

Energy per unit volume has the same physical units as pressure and in many situations is synonymous. For example, the energy density of a magnetic field may be expressed as and behaves like a physical pressure. Likewise, the energy required to compress a gas to a certain volume may be determined by multiplying the difference between the gas pressure and the external pressure by the change in volume. A pressure gradient describes the potential to perform work on the surroundings by converting internal energy to work until equilibrium is reached.

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