When you think of energy, you probably think of things like heat and light. But what is energy? In a nutshell, energy is the ability to do work. It is present everywhere and comes in various forms. Chemical energy is derived from the interaction of atoms and molecules, electrical energy comes from electron movement, gravitational energy is the force of gravity, heat energy is created when molecules of different temperatures interact, and light energy is produced when the Sun shines.
Energy is the ability to do work
What is energy? Energy is the ability to move, exert force and change conditions. It is the ultimate agent of change. There are two kinds of energy: kinetic and potential. Potential energy is stored in objects before they take action. The potential energy is converted to kinetic energy when the object takes action. We can see this in action when we hold a physics textbook in the air. It has the potential to fall if there is no resistance to the object.
It is a conserved quantity
The term “conserved quantity” refers to a property of matter which cannot be created or destroyed. Energy can be converted from one form to another, but cannot be created or destroyed. Its quantity is measured in joules, the amount of work required to move one meter in the opposite direction of one newton of force. Besides energy, momentum and angular momentum are also conserved quantities.
It is a finite quantity in the universe
The law of conservation of energy states that energy in a closed system cannot increase unless outside influences are present. Because the universe is a closed system, energy is always the same. It changes form, but the total amount remains constant. However, the exact amounts of energy within the universe have always been the same, even if the forms of energy change. Therefore, it is possible that the total amount of energy in the universe has not changed at all.
It is stored in chemical bonds
The process of natural photosynthesis uses the energy stored in the chemical bonds between atoms. As plants use light and heat to create fuel, the chemical bonds break and release the energy. The energy released is energy in the form of heat. The reaction is known as an exothermic reaction. It can also use the energy stored in batteries. Using other chemical forms of energy can reduce the carbon footprint of our electric grid, industrial operations, and transportation sector.
It is released into the environment
When we burn fossil fuels, the energy is released into the atmosphere in the form of harmful pollutants. These pollutants include carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide, and airborne particles. The waste of this energy can result in climate change and other environmental problems. Many of these pollutants are harmful to our health. These gases, together with other harmful airborne particles, cause respiratory diseases. This is the primary reason why burning fossil fuels is bad for the environment.
It is converted to other forms
We’ve all heard about how energy is transformed from one form to another. But do you know how it is conserved? The key to energy conservation is knowing how to quantify it. The heat energy in boiling water or the gravitational potential energy in a suspended weight both contain energy. This energy is quantified in units called joules. If you’re not sure how to quantify energy, check out our guide to the subject.