Chemical Potential Energy
is the energy stored within chemical compounds.It isstored in the bonds between the atoms,and every chemicalreaction results in the release,or absorption,ofenergy asbonds are broken and formed.Some bonds store more energy than others.Many ofthecomplex compounds ofcarbon are especially important ashigh-energy compounds.
is the process by which plants make food.Photosynthesisis the most important Biological process on Earth,becauseit makes all the FOODand OXYGENfor all living things. This essential process captures the energy ofthe Sun,andstores it in the chemical bonds in the glucose molecule,C
.Glucose is just one ofmany compounds known as“carbohydrates”...the sugars and starches.All are highenergy compounds made from or derived from glucose, which in turn is made from the low energy compoundscarbon dioxide and water.Plants make their own carbohydrates;animals get theirs by eating their food via the food chains.
The Origin ofthe “Fossil Fuels”
Coal,Petroleum and Natural Gas are the main fuels whichpower our industries,our homes and vehicles,and generateour electricity. They are all mixtures ofhigh-energy compounds becausethey are the
oflife-forms which livedmillions ofyears ago.They have been chemically altered by the fossilization process,but are basically derived fromcarbohydrates originally made by photosynthesis. Therefore,whenever coal,petroleum or natural gas areburned as fuels,the energy released is energy which cameoriginally from the Sun and was captured by photosynthesis in some ancient plant cell.
Composition ofNatural Gas
As an example ofjust which high-energy compounds arepresent in a fossil fuel,the following table summarizes thecomposition of“Natural Gas”which is chemically thesimplest ofthe fossil fuels.(K.I.S.S.Principle!)
Compound FormulaTypical % inNameNatural Gas
Location ofAustralian Deposits ofNatural Gas
Natural Gas,or “Petroleum Gas”is usually associated with“Oil Fields”where petroleum (crude oil) is found.Themajor Australian deposits are marked on this map: