Skip to main content
[ "article:topic-guide", "state function", "showtoc:no" ]
Chemistry LibreTexts

Energies and Potentials

  • Page ID
    • Chemical Energy
      Chemical reactions involve the making and breaking of chemical bonds (ionic and covalent) and the chemical energy of a system is the energy released or absorbed due to the making and breaking of these bonds. Breaking bonds requires energy, forming bonds releases energy, and the overall reaction can be either endergonic (ΔG<0) or exergonic (ΔG>0) based on the overall changes in stability from reactants to products.
    • Differential Forms of Fundamental Equations
      The fundamental thermodynamic equations follow from five primary thermodynamic definitions and describe internal energy, enthalpy, Helmholtz energy, and Gibbs energy in terms of their natural variables. Here they will be presented in their differential forms.
    • Enthalpy
      When a process occurs at constant pressure, the heat evolved (either released or absorbed) is equal to the change in enthalpy. Enthalpy (H) is the sum of the internal energy (U) and the product of pressure and volume (PV).
    • Free Energy
      Free energy is a composite function that balances the influence of energy vs. entropy.
    • Internal Energy
      The internal energy of a system is identified with the random, disordered motion of molecules; the total (internal) energy in a system includes potential and kinetic energy. This is contrast to external energy which is a function of the sample with respect to the outside environment (e.g. kinetic energy if the sample is moving or potential energy if the sample is at a height from the ground etc).
    • Potential Energy
      Potential Energy is energy due to position, composition, or arrangement. Also, it is the energy associated with forces of attraction and repulsion between objects. Any object that is lifted from its resting position has stored energy therefore it is called potential energy because it has a potential to do work when released.
    • Thermal Energy
      Thermal Energy, also known as random or internal Kinetic Energy, due to the random motion of molecules in a system. Kinetic Energy is seen in three forms: vibrational, rotational, and translational. Vibrational is the energy caused by an object or molecule moving in a vibrating motion, rotational is the energy caused by rotating motion, and translational is the energy caused by the movement of one molecule to to another location.