The Energy Story

  Energy Is Born
  Energy Types
  Energy Changes
  Energy Generation

The Energy Problem

  Conservation of Energy
  Aging of Energy
  Finite Resources
  The Oil "Crisis"
  Energy Pollution
  Discussion Topics

The Energy Solution

  Conserving Electricity
  Appliance Efficiency
  Heating Conservation
  Renewable Energy

Web Links

Teacher Guide

About the Author

Secret Lives Title - The Energy Story

agif - chemical energy
The Ten Types
Chemical Energy


All chemical compounds are composed of atoms connected by chemical bonds. These bonds contain chemical energy that was stored when the bond was formed. Coal and oil, for example, contain a substantial amount of chemical energy.

Created by Tom Chandler, OME educator, 2001-02

This energy can be retrieved when the bond is broken at a later time. Since, for most compounds, this chemical energy can be stored in the compound for an almost indefinite time, chemical energy is a type of potential energy. We can store the coal or oil and release the chemical energy by burning it whenever it is needed.

The graphic below illustrates that energy is releases as a chemical bond is broken. In the process the chemical compound will be changed into one or more other substances.

bond energy graphic
Physical Review Letters, Eric D. Isaacs, Vol. 82 on the 18th of January 1999

Below are a number of examples of sources of chemical energy. Chemical energy is one of our most abundant and important sources of energy.

Fossil Fuels
- Oil
- Natural Gas
- Coal
- Wood

These are called fossil fuels since they were formed from the remains of biological organisms. When burned they give off their chemical energy, usually into heat energy. They are our main sources of energy and are used for huge power plants. And of course there is the charcoal and methane gas that we use in our barbecue grills and the gasoline that we use in our cars that are derived from oil.
Acetylene (and oxygen) Used to create a hot flame for welding steel.
Dynamite, C-4, etc. Used for blowing up obstacles, creating tunnels, etc.
Hydrogen (and oxygen) Hydrogen is just starting to be used in fuel cells.
Batteries There are a number of substances that when placed into a battery give up their energy into electrical energy.
Other Examples Matches, butane lighters, propane torches, and lighter fluid.

For more information, check out the websites below.

Hoto Org Chemical Energy Chemical Energy
Balancing Chemical Energy Chemical Energy
Chemical Energy