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Units, Standards of Measurement, and Conversions

Authored by: Frank R. Spellman

Handbook of Environmental Engineering

Print publication date:  September  2015
Online publication date:  September  2015

Print ISBN: 9781498708616
eBook ISBN: 9781498708623
Adobe ISBN:


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An engineering handbook that does not include units and conversions is like a book without a table of contents or index. For example, converting units from grams to slugs, centistokes to square feet per second, or pounds per million gallons to milligrams per liter can be accomplished automatically, right away, if you have a mind containing a library of facts and figures and conversions and data and all kinds of that type of stuff. However, if you are normal, there are times when even the most adept, confident, competent, and brilliant engineer or engineer want-to-be must refer to some reference to find some facts. I always hand out a printed copy of units and conversions in my college environmental classes. Most students welcome the handout; however, I have had a few who have shunned it at first, saying that they knew how to convert units and can do it from memory. I like to counter with, “Well, then, that means you know how convert abamperes to statamperes, right?” The look on their faces is always priceless. Students who do not know everything are my kind of students; they are teachable. Because not many of us are human computers with digital memories, this handbook includes a discussion of units, standards of measurement, and conversions. Moreover, because this is the age of energy consumption, renewable energy production, and hydraulic fracturing to capture more energy, energy conversion calculations are also included. By the way, does the reader know the difference, in gallons, between a U.S. fluid barrel and an oil barrel? Don’t worry, if you read this chapter you will find out.

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