Chemical Energy

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Chapter: Anatomy and Physiology for Health Professionals: Levels of Organization : Cellular Metabolism

The ability to do work and to change or move matter is called energy.


Chemical Energy

The ability to do work and to change or move matter is called energy. Most metabolic processes use chemical energy, which is the type of energy stored in the bonds of chemical substances. Other forms of energy include heat, light, electrical energy,mechani-cal energy, and sound.

Chemical Energy Release

When the bonds between the atoms of molecules are broken, chemical energy is released. When a sub-stance is burned, for example, bonds break and energy escapes as both light and heat. During the process of oxidation, cells “burn” molecules of glucose to release chemical energy that fuels the process of anabolism; however, oxidation is different from the burning of substances that exist outside cells.

Inside the cells, enzymes reduce the amount of activation energy needed for oxidation as a part of the cellular respiration. Energy is released in the bonds of nutrient molecules. The cells then transfer about 40% of the released energy to special energy-­ carrying molecules. The remaining energy escapes as heat, helping the body to remain at normal tempera-ture. When the body gains more heat than it is able to lose, ­hyperthermia develops.

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