What Is Chemical Energy

From a scientific point of view, energy is the ability to do work with energy being categorized into two: potential and kinetic energy, these are stored energy and energy in motion respectively. Under potential energy is a form of energy known as chemical energy, it is present in things like fuels, batteries and most commonly, food. Other forms of potential energy include nuclear energy, mechanical energy and electrical energy. The chemical energy being a potential form of energy can then be converted to kinetic energy like radio waves, motion, heat, sound and x-rays when a force or change is applied to it.

Chemical energy permits storage of energy for latter use and is the easiest source of energy to access. Many of the daily activities are possible only because of this form of energy, among them are driving, walking, listening to radio and operating electronics.

How chemical energy works

  • Chemical energy can be stored up over time and broken down for energy conversion by reacting with relevant chemicals and elements.
  • It is created when atom to atom bonds are formed.
  • These bonds are those that release a substantial amount of energy when broken down later to provide kinetic energy.
  • A common example of chemical energy formation is photosynthesis where food s manufactured and stored for use later.

Uses of chemical energy

Batteries: several chemical react in order to create kinetic energy in the form of electricity. Commonly, zinc and copper are the reactants, the acid in the battery breaks down some zinc releasing electron. These electrons, the negative charge, travel in the wire to the copper side hence electrical flow. The bonds between the zinc atoms when broken down, releases the required energy and itself being reduced.

Photosynthesis in plants: Plants use this process everyday to create carbohydrates. Carbon dioxide and water are both broken down in order to create a high energy compound like sucrose to be used later as food and a regular form of chemical energy. In this chemical process, oxygen that we need to survive is the by product. Sunlight is the source of energy that breaks the hydrogen oxygen bond in water and that between carbon and oxygen in carbon dioxide. This elaborate process of chemical energy storage is what keeps life going on since both animals and human beings depend on plants for food.

Food as a chemical energy: Without it, no life can continue, it is a form of chemical energy created during photosynthesis. When eaten by animals and insects, these organisms use the energy to move and generate heat while the rest is stored up for later use. These animals and insects are then eaten by others for energy. The chemical energy thus transferred is used by the chain.

Gasoline and petroleum products: in order to move we need vehicles, these need chemical energy in the form of gasoline to function. The combustion produces a large amount of kinetic energy in the form of motion and electricity. Industries could not be operational without chemical energy.


It is evident that chemical energy surrounds us all over our daily lives. From the food we eat to the vehicles we drive. Food and industrial processes necessary for household and medical products all depends on chemical energy to function.