In simple terms, energy can be defined as the ability or capacity to perform work. Energy is stored in every single object or even particle that lies around us. When a work is done, energy is transferred from one object to another. Energy has many different forms. Some of the most common forms of energy that we use in our everyday life are heat energy, light energy, electrical energy, nuclear energy and of course, chemical energy.
Interesting Facts about Chemical Energy
Basically, when we are talking about chemical energy, we refer to the energy which is stored in those small particles (atoms and molecules) that participate in a chemical reaction. The atoms and molecules in a chemical compound are held by chemical bonds. The energy which is stored in these bonds is known as chemical energy.
During a chemical reaction, bonds of a chemical compound are broken down and some new bonds are formed. Energy is released in this process in the form of heat and light. In other words, the chemical energy gets converted into heat energy and light energy. This released energy is then used for various purposes.
Chemical energy is essential for carrying out several biological processes. Humans use chemical energy stored in food molecules to obtain energy for our body cells. The bonds of large organic molecules of food are broken down into smaller molecules during digestion and huge amount of energy is obtained, which is utilized by the body for performing metabolic processes. The energy which is stored in our body in the ATP molecules (adenosine triphosphate) is also another form of chemical energy, which is involved in cellular respiration and is vital for our survival. Animals also use the same process to fuel their body cells.
The use of chemical energy is not just confined to humans and animals but also to plants, which utilize this energy to prepare food. Plant cells contain a pigment component named 'chlorophyll' that absorbs light energy from the sun. Carbon dioxide and water obtained from the atmosphere is then converted into sugar molecules. The chemical energy stored in these sugar molecules is the source of energy for the plants that helps them to carry out various life processes.
Chemical energy has a number of non-biological uses as well. Chemical energy stored in fuels is converted into heat energy and act as a source of energy. Wood is one of the oldest forms of fuels used by mankind to obtain heat for cooking food, lighting up homes at night and keeping the houses warm. Today, coal, oil and natural gas are some of the most popular sources of chemical energy that are subjected to combustion to get usable form of energy. They are also known as fossil fuels. Here, the chemical energy of the organic compounds present in these materials helps us to fulfill our energy requirement. When they are burned, heat energy is produced, which is then used to run vehicles, operate machines, generate electricity, etc.
We can also use chemical energy stored in some inorganic compounds. The chemical energy of the phosphorus compound at the tip of matchstick is used to get light and heat energy. The inorganic chemical compounds present in the batteries are converted into electrical energy, which is used in many ways.
In today's world, chemical energy is the most widely utilized source of energy. However, we should not forget that it is a non-renewable source of energy. Therefore, we must use it sensibly, so that we can save it for the future generations.