Fuel

A fuel is any material that can be made to react with other substances so that it releases energy as thermal energy or to be used for work. The concept was originally applied solely to those materials capable of releasing chemical energy but has since also been applied to other sources of heat energy, such as nuclear energy (via nuclear fission and nuclear fusion).

Wood was one of the first fuels used by humans.[1]

The heat energy released by reactions of fuels can be converted into mechanical energy via a heat engine. Other times, the heat itself is valued for warmth, cooking, or industrial processes, as well as the illumination that accompanies combustion. Fuels are also used in the cells of organisms in a process known as cellular respiration, where organic molecules are oxidized to release usable energy. Hydrocarbons and related organic molecules are by far the most common source of fuel used by humans, but other substances, including radioactive metals, are also utilized.

Fuels are contrasted with other substances or devices storing potential energy, such as those that directly release electrical energy (such as batteries and capacitors) or mechanical energy (such as flywheels, springs, compressed air, or water in a reservoir).


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