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The Energy of Chemicals and Chemical Change / Unit 6

Energy is the term we use to represent the ability to perform work. Chemical
compounds have potential energy stored in the bonds that hold them together. The potential
energy represented by a candy bar can allow you to perform work. The potential energy
represented by gasoline can allow a car to perform work. Both physical and chemical changes
involve energy transfer. Energy is needed to bring about changes in matter. There are many
forms in which energy can be stored. We will be mainly concerned with heat (a.k.a. thermal
energy) because that is the form of energy most often associated with chemical changes. Heat
is energy that is transferred from one thing to another due to a difference in temperature.
Energy can flow in either of two directions: absorbed or released. Energy can be absorbed from
the surroundings (e.g. water absorbs heat from a Bunsen burner flame in order to boil). In
chemical reactions, energy is often released to the surroundings (e.g. combustion of gas in a
Bunsen burner gives off heat to the surroundings). In this unit we will study energy and its uses
especially as it relates to chemicals and chemical reactions.

Excerpt from The Web of Life by John H. Storer:

“Air, rock, water, and sunlight – these are the four sources from which come all living
things and their environment. On the bare sands of the desert, the sun’s rays strike in tiny units
of energy moving with atomic speed. Some of them we can feel as heat or see as light. These
speeding units impart some of their energy to the dead sands, which temporarily store it in the
form of heat, but when the sun sinks, this newly acquired energy is radiated back into the air
and lost. The sand becomes as cold and dead as ever. But chlorophyll in the leaves of green
plants exists as an agent for garnering these units of solar energy. It makes of the green leaf a
laboratory in which nature creates food for living creatures and carries on unceasingly the magic
of building life.
Like the sand, a field of grass absorbs the sun’s rays; but when night comes the grass
does not give back this newly gained energy. In its green laboratory, the chlorophyll blends the
sun’s captured radiance together with elements taken from the air, the water, and the soil, and
builds these dead materials into organized living form to make new blades of grass.
This grass is cool and quiet, giving no hint of the sunlight stored within its framework.
But dry it out and touch a match to it. The blades of grass – these tiny bits of organized gas and
sunlight – blaze up with flame hot enough to kill a man. All of that fierce heat is merely a release
of the same energy that the cool, moist plants have been quietly gathering from the sunlight
and storing for later use.
If the grass is not burned, the energy will remain stored within its substance. If it is eaten
by an animal, its life force is transferred with it into the body of the animal to sustain the spark
that we call life.”

Chemistry Raleigh Charter High School Dr. Genez

Types of Energy:
I. Potential Energy – the energy of position (stored energy as a result of attractions or
repulsions between objects); chemical bonds represent potential energy.
II. Kinetic Energy – the energy of motion; all objects have kinetic energy due to the vibration of
the component atoms/molecules even if they don’t appear to be moving on the
macroscopic scale.

Some Forms of Energy:

1. Chemical Energy – stored energy which depends on the composition of the substance. Food
and gasoline are two examples of chemical potential energy which will be converted into
kinetic energy by way of a chemical reaction.
2. Nuclear Energy – energy released by nuclear reactions (fission and fusion).
3. Electrical Energy – the chemical reaction that occurs in the battery of a car produces
electrical energy used to start the car and operate the headlights, radio, etc.
4. Light Energy – plants use the radiant energy of sunlight to do the work of making carbon
dioxide and water into sugar. This process of creating stored chemical energy is
5. Mechanical energy – potential and kinetic energy present in the components of a
mechanical system; used to do mechanical work.
6. Thermal Energy – a.k.a. heat.
7. Sound Energy – energy carried by sound waves.

Energy can be converted from one form to another form which is more useful. This occurs all
around you on a daily basis. Consider when electrical energy is converted into heat energy in a
hair dryer, or when your body converts the chemical potential energy of your lunch into
mechanical energy on the soccer field. A fundamental law governs these energy conversions:

Law of Conservation of Energy – in any chemical or physical change, energy is neither created
nor destroyed. The energy may be converted from one form to another; however, energy is
conserved. All the energy involved can be accounted for as work, stored energy, or heat.

How do we measure heat energy?? (Notes on separate page)

A. Solving for heat and other variables directly:

1. How much energy must be absorbed by 50.0 g of water to raise its temperature from 22.5 to
2. The specific heat capacity of iron is 0.108 cal/g x˚C. How many calories are required to raise
the temperature of an iron nail (8.25 g) from 23.5 to 95.0˚C?
3. If 3345 J of heat are supplied to a 75.0 g sample of water at room temperature (23.0˚C),
what will the final temperature of the water be?
4. If 75.0 cal are required to raise the temperature of a 12.3 g piece of metal from 22.6˚C to
88.3˚C, what is the specific heat capacity of the metal?

Chemistry Raleigh Charter High School Dr. Genez

When we study the heat involved in physical and chemical changes there will be two important
factors: 1. Amount of heat involved (number)
2. Direction of heat flow (sign)

Endothermic change – heat absorbed (q = +)

Exothermic change – heat released (q = -)

B. Measuring heat energy changes indirectly relies on a method called “calorimetry”:

5. A 10.0 g sample of a Hershey's chocolate bar is burned in a bomb calorimeter which

contains 2000. g of water. The temperature of the water rises from 22.5 to 54.5˚C. How
many kcal were released from the sample? How many kcal are in a whole candy bar (40.0
6. A 4.75 g charcoal briquet is burned beneath a flask containing 125.0 mL of water. The
temperature rises from 24.0 to 88.7˚C. What is the energy of combustion per mole for
charcoal (carbon)?
7. A 5.25 g sample of NaOH is dissolved in a coffee cup calorimeter which contains 100.0 mL of
water. The temperature of the water rises from 23.0 to 31.8˚C. How much energy is released
per mole of NaOH? The specific heat capacity of NaOH solution would be 0.992 cal/g x˚C.
8. 8. In order to determine the specific heat capacity of a metal, a 42.1 g piece is heated to
100.0˚C and then dropped into 50.0 mL of water at an initial temperature of 20.5˚C. The
final temperature of the metal and water is 24.2˚C. What is the specific heat capacity of the

Enthalpy (H):
Just knowing the basic amount of heat energy involved (q) is important, but a chemist would
rather know more. Specifically, we would want to know how much heat is produced or
absorbed per mole of the chemical. The symbol H is used for this purpose and is called the
heat content or enthalpy.

H is equal to q divided by the number of moles involved.

If H is provided with a chemical reaction you get a thermochemical equation:

e.g. CH4(g) + 2O2(g)  CO2(g) + 2H2O(g) H = -213 kcal/mol

2C8H18(l) + 25O2(g)  16CO2(g) + 18H2O(g) H = -1303 kcal/mol

Endothermic Heat is absorbed from the surroundings (H = +)

reactants + heat  products
Reaction Products have more potential energy than reactants

Exothermic Heat is released to the surroundings (H = –)

reactants  products + heat
Reaction Reactants have more potential energy than products.
9. a. How many kcal of heat will be released when a full tank (12 gallons) of gasoline is burned

Chemistry Raleigh Charter High School Dr. Genez

in the engine of an automobile? A gallon of octane would have a mass of 2.66 Kg.
b. If a car could run on candy bars, how many would be the equivalent of a tank of
c. If a human could run on gasoline, how many grams would they need to run for a day
assuming the person had an energy requirement of 3,125 kcal?

10. How many grams of natural gas (methane = CH4) would have to be burned to heat a bathtub
full of water (50.0 L) from a chilly 17.5 ˚C to 30.0˚C?

11. Chocolate vs. gasoline – Which is a better price performer?

a. Compare the potential energy of chocolate vs. gasoline by calculating their
potential energy per gram.
b. Calculate their cost per gram.
c. Compare their energy value by calculating their cost per kcal.

Chemistry Raleigh Charter High School Dr. Genez