When a material is plastically deformed the majority of mechanical work is dissipated as heat, and the fraction of plastic work converted into heat is known as the Taylor-Quinney coefficient (TQC). Large-scale molecular dynamics simulations were performed of high strain rate compression of single-crystal tantalum, and the resulting integral and differential TQC values are reported up to true strains of 1.0. A phenomenological model is proposed for the energy stored in the material as a function of plastic strain with an asymptotic limit for this energy defined by the deformation conditions. The model reasonably describes the convergence of TQC values to 1.0 with increasing plastic strain, but does not directly address the physical nature of thermo-mechanical conversion. This is instead developed in a second more detailed model that accurately accounts for energy storage with two distinct contributions, one being the growing dislocation network and the other the point defect debris left behind by moving dislocations. The contribution of the point defect debris is found to lag behind that of the dislocation network but to be substantial for the high-rate straining conditions considered here.