Energy of Matter
While we have described the pieces of a reaction, we haven't discussed why a reaction occurs.
Energy is needed to drive a chemical reaction. There are two types of energy, potential and kinetic.
- Potential energy is stored energy. In a physics sense, stored energy is related to the height of an object. In a chemical sense, stored energy is the energy holding atoms together in bonds.
- Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. In a physics sense, energy of motion involves movement of objects. In a chemical sense, particles release heat as a form of kinetic energy as chemical reactions occur.
Use the following simulation to help understand the difference between potential and kinetic energy. Make sure you click to show the bar graph and watch how as the skate boarder moves, the total energy stays constant, while the amount of kinetic and potential energy changes. This follows the law of conservation of energy.