Machines Theory

Understanding chemical energy

Chemical energy is something that can be seen around us, as it may be released due to a chemical reaction. This often occurs in form of heat which is known as exothermic. For instance, sunlight creates a chemical reaction that makes plants grow. The energy in food is converted by the body into mechanical energy and heat. Also, in power plants, chemical energy in coal is converted into electrical energy. lastly, the chemical energy in a battery can also supply electrical power by means of electrolysis. Today you’ll get to know the definition, uses, and examples of chemical energy.

chemical energy

Read more: Understanding gravitational energy


What is chemical energy?

Chemical energy is the energy stored in the bonds of chemical compounds like atoms and molecules. It is a form of potential energy that cannot be observed until the reaction occurs. Chemical energy is the potential of a chemical substance to undergo a chemical reaction to transform into other substances. The energy can be changed into other forms of energy through chemical reactions or chemical changes. This means energy, often in the form of heat can be absorbed or released when chemical energy is converted to another form.


The uses of chemical energy are common around us, starting from the food we eat to the energy obtained from natural resources. Below are the uses of chemical energy.

  • We consume chemical energy in food. The bonds between the atoms in food loosen or break, a chemical reaction takes place, and new compounds are produced. The energy produced from this reaction keeps us warm, helps us walk, and allows us to grow. Although the different amount of energy is stored in a different kind of food.
  • Chemical energy is released as heat when we burn dry wood. The energy is released and converted into thermal energy (heat) and light energy. The wood is then turned into a new substance (ash)
  • Some other uses of chemical energy are seen in biomass, coal, chemical batteries, and vehicle airbag.

Read more: Understanding tidal energy

Examples of chemical energy

Below are the examples of chemical energy

  • Coal – Combustion reaction converts chemical energy into light and heat.
  • Wood – Combustion reaction converts chemical energy into light and heat.
  • Petroleum – Can be burned to release light and heat or changed into another form of chemical energy, such as gasoline.
  • Chemical batteries – Store chemical energy to be changed into electricity.
  • Biomass – Combustion reaction converts chemical energy into light and heat.
  • Natural gas – Combustion reaction converts chemical energy into light and heat.
  • Food – Digested to convert chemical energy into other forms of energy used by cells.
  • Cold packs – Chemical energy is absorbed in a reaction.
  • Propane – Burned to produce heat and light.
  • Hot packs – Chemical reaction produces heat or thermal energy.
  • Photosynthesis – Changes solar energy into chemical energy.
  • Cellular respiration – A set of reactions that changes the chemical energy in glucose into chemical energy in ATP, a form our bodies can use.

Read more: Understanding biomass energy resource

Watch the video below to learn more on chemical energy:

That is all for this article, where the definition, uses, and examples of chemical energy are being discussed. I hope you enjoyed the reading, if so, kindly share with other students. Thanks for reading, see you next time!

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