Chemical Energy To Mechanical Energy: What, How To Convert, Process

This article focuses on the transformation of chemical energy to mechanical energy, how the conversion occurs and details on the process.

The energy conversion from chemical energy to mechanical energy underlies the functioning of almost all living organisms. Bonds of chemical compounds store chemical energy which is converted to mechanical energy in several applications like battery powered toys, nuclear power plants, thermal power plants, clocks, etc.

The process of conversion may differ in different contexts. We shall discuss it in detail below.

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What is a transfer of chemical energy to mechanical energy?

The transfer of chemical to mechanical energy implies the transformation of energy present in the bonds of atoms or molecules to the energy of a body due to its position or motion.

Consider the example of a battery-powered toy car. The motion of the toy car is due to the mechanical energy. This energy is not created all of a sudden, instead the battery supplies the energy for the motion. A battery, generally consisting of an electrolytic solution and two electrodes, converts the chemical energy present in the bonds of molecules of the electrolyte through an electrolysis to electrical energy and this, in turn, transforms to mechanical energy.

Therefore, energy transfer from batteries produces the motion of a toy car, which proves the law of conservation of energy. The law states that

“Energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only be converted from one form to another.”

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How to convert chemical energy to mechanical energy?

Chemical energy to mechanical energy conversion is common in several machineries including battery powered toy cars and bikes, in cars, clock, etc.

Battery-powered toy car/bike

In a battery-powered toy car or bike, chemical energy is initially converted to electrical energy as a result of the displacement reaction taking place inside the battery. The electrical energy is then transformed to mechanical energy when the wheel rotates. 

chemical energy to mechanical energy
Battery-operated toy car
Image Credits: Flickr


In a clock, battery converts chemical to electrical energy. In addition, a motor present in the clock converts the electrical energy to mechanical energy which is transferred through gears to the hands of a clock.


The gasoline is the source of energy by which a vehicle moves. As the gasoline is burned, its chemical energy is converted to heat energy. Through a system of pistons and cylinders in the engine, the heat is transferred as mechanical energy when the wheels rotate.

Fuel power plants

In fuel power plants, chemical energy of the fuel is converted to thermal energy as a result of combustion reaction. This heat energy is transferred to the turbines and when it rotates, mechanical energy is produced. The mechanical energy is further transformed to electrical energy by the generators in the power plants.


When a gun is fired, bullet gets projected with a certain acceleration. The energy conversion behind this is the chemical potential energy of gun powder to mechanical energy of bullet.

Bulled fired from a gun
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

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What process is chemical energy converted to mechanical energy?

Energy conversion occurs directly from chemical to mechanical energy in living organisms. The process is known as ATP hydrolysis. In our muscles, the chemical energy stored in the bonds of ATP (Adenosine Tri-Phosphate) is released when the bond is split, and is converted to mechanical energy whenever muscle action takes place (any motion). 

Whenever we move, run, play, dance or perform any physical activity, this process is taking place in our body inorder to supply us with enough mechanical energy required for the motion.

Combustion is the initial process in the energy conversion in many contexts like gasoline, fuel power plants, etc. The chemical energy gets transformed to heat energy and then it is subsequently converted to mechanical energy.

The chemical reaction taking place in the batteries in battery-powered devices like toy cars or bikes or clocks, converts the chemical energy to electrical energy and then to mechanical energy.

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Deeksha Dinesh

Hello, I am Deeksha Dinesh, currently pursuing post-graduation in Physics with a specialization in the field of Astrophysics. I like to deliver concepts in a simpler way for the readers.

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