Chemistry » Thermochemistry » Introduction

Introduction to Thermochemistry

A match held in a person’s hand is ignited as it is scratched along the rough surface of a match box.

Sliding a match head along a rough surface initiates a combustion reaction that produces energy in the form of heat and light. (credit: modification of work by Laszlo Ilyes)

Chemical reactions, such as those that occur when you light a match, involve changes in energy as well as matter. Societies at all levels of development could not function without the energy released by chemical reactions. In 2012, about 85% of US energy consumption came from the combustion of petroleum products, coal, wood, and garbage.

Americans use this energy to produce electricity (38%); to transport food, raw materials, manufactured goods, and people (27%); for industrial production (21%); and to heat and power their homes and businesses (10%). While these combustion reactions help them meet their essential energy needs, they are also recognized by the majority of the scientific community as a major contributor to global climate change.

Useful forms of energy are also available from a variety of chemical reactions other than combustion. For example, the energy produced by the batteries in a cell phone, car, or flashlight results from chemical reactions. This tutorial introduces many of the basic ideas necessary to explore the relationships between chemical changes and energy, with a focus on thermal energy.

[Attributions and Licenses]


This is a lesson from the tutorial, Thermochemistry and you are encouraged to log in or register, so that you can track your progress.

Log In

Share Thoughts