Even at the local level, the size of the LHC constitutes an exceptional engineering challenge with unique safety issues. During operations, the total energy stored in the magnets is 10 GJ, and the two beams carry an overall energy that reaches 724 MJ. For comparison, 724 MJ is the kinetic energy of a TGV running at 222 km/h (139 mph), or the detonation energy of approximately 173 kilograms (380 lb) of TNT. 10 GJ is about 2.4 tons of TNT. In more everyday terms, burning about 80 gallons of gasoline will liberate about 10GJ of energy as heat.
Loss of only 10−7 of the beam is sufficient to quench a superconducting magnet, while the beam dump must absorb an energy equivalent to a typical air-dropped bomb. These immense kinetic energies are even more impressive when one considers how little matter is carrying it. Under nominal operating conditions (2808 bunches per beam, 1.15×1011 protons per bunch), the beam pipes contain about 1.0×10-9 grams of hydrogen, which, in standard conditions for temperature and pressure, would fill a volume of roughly 0.01 mm3.