chemical energy



We explain what chemical energy is, what it is for, its advantages and disadvantages. In addition, its different uses and main characteristics.

Chemical energy involves reactions between the molecules of one or more compounds.

What is chemical energy?

Chemical energy is the energy contained or produced through reactions between the molecules of one or more compounds. It is the internal energy that a body or a substance based on the types of chemical bonds that occur between its components and the amount of energy that can be released from reactions between them.

Chemical energy (one of the ways that energy manifests itself in reality) is always associated with the matter and manifests itself when there is a modification in the chemical links of the atoms and molecules that compose it. This can occur in the presence of heat sources or other substances with which an exchange of energy takes place. particles which generally produces heat, light or other forms of energy derived from the reaction.

Thus, chemical energy is a form ofpotential energy contained inchemical substances. These substances, once they intervene in a reaction, are transformed into other usable forms of energy. This is how, for example, the processes of combustion of gasoline and others hydrocarbons fossils.

The use of this form of energy may be relatively new in the history of humanity, but not in that of the world: since ancient times life has taken advantage of the photosynthesis and chemosynthesis, among other processes for obtaining energy, to take advantage of the chemical molecular potential of matter.

What is chemical energy for?

Gasoline converts chemical energy into kinetic energy when it is used to move a vehicle.

According to the Principle of Conservation of Energy, energy can be transformed but not created or destroyed. In addition, chemical energy is a form of potential energy that serves to be transformed into other forms of energy that have practical applications in human life, such as light energy, thermal, kinetics, etc., to carry out work.

For example, gasoline is used to convert chemical energy into kinetic energy, when we use it to move a vehicle, such as a motorcycle.

Advantages of chemical energy

Chemical energy has the following advantages:

  • It presents a high yield. Large amounts of matter are not required to obtain energy from its molecules.
  • Allows you to modify the matter. These chemical reactions not only produce energy, but also different types of matter that in many cases can be used to obtain new materials.
  • It allows to take advantage of waste materials. Bioethanol and others biofuels are formed from organic material that, in other cases, it would decompose uselessly.

Disadvantages of chemical energy

Fossil fuels expel toxic gases into the atmosphere.

On the other hand, chemical energy can have certain drawbacks:

  • It presents by-products. Many times they can be polluting substances, as in the case of fossil fuels that expel toxic gases into the atmosphere.
  • It requires constant inputs. Since they are exhausted after the chemical reaction (maintaining the rate of chemical consumption or combustion demands more organic matter to feed the reaction).

Chemical energy of food

The food we consume daily is an ideal example of chemical energy and its use. Those food They contain different organic substances necessary to provide energy to our body, such as fuel from vehicle engines.

These organic substances are decomposed in our body to obtain glucose (C6H12O6), the molecule whose oxidation during cellular respiration releases large amounts of caloric energy (calories) to keep the body working. Excess glucose turns into fat: a reserve in case we need it later.

This is an example of the use of the chemical energy of glucose contained in food, to produce mechanical energy (to move, to stand), sound (to speak), electric (the electricity of the neurons that allows us to think), etc.

Examples of chemical energy

Some examples are the following:

  • Fossil fuels. Gasoline, diesel and fuels derived from the Petroleum They are made up of sequences of molecules based on carbon and hydrogen whose bonds can break in the presence of oxygen (combustion), thus releasing large amounts of energy violently.
  • The food that we ingest. The glucose contained in food is oxidized in our body and by breaking its bonds we obtain a useful caloric load to maintain the body's energy.
  • Bioluminescence. Many living organisms have the ability to produce light with their bodies, which is known asbioluminescence. That light energy comes from the chemical energy stored in their bodies.
  • Space travel. Space rockets work by the controlled reaction between various substances with high chemical energy (hydrogen and liquid oxygen, in general) that are converted into huge amounts of kinetic energy.
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