Energon is the preferred fuel/energy source of Transformers. It has also been shown as food, intoxicating drink, ammunition, even currency. More, it has been described as the basic building block of all Transformers' bodies and sparks.
Typically, energon is highly volatile. Even a small impact can cause energon to detonate explosively.
In most continuities, the safest way to transport Energon is when it is condensed into the form of an energon cube. In this form energon is more stable, but still quite dangerous.
Energon has undergone some serious redefinition and reimagination as Transformers fiction has trundled along for the past 20+ years.
As originally introduced in the Generation 1 cartoon series, energon was a liquid fuel developed by the Decepticons and stored in cubes, which was created by processing virtually any available energy resource from fuel-burning to electricity. It was very rarely overtly stated, but episodes such as “Attack of the Autobots” and “Traitor” made it clear that energon was simply not employed by Autobots at this point in time. However, somewhere between the end of season two and The Transformers: The Movie, the Autobots also began using energon (the original script for the movie explained that Autobot City had been built to harness renewable, natural energy sources, thus supplying the Autobots with energon), and they continued to do so throughout the third season of the series. Likewise, when the Generation 1 comic decided to emulate the cartoon and introduce energon in its pages, it was used by both Autobots and Decepticons, and, like the cartoon, was created by processing natural resources such as oil, magma and even sonic energy.
Despite their short-lived and obscure nature, it was the 3D comics released by Blackthorne Publishing in 1987 which first re-examined energon. These stories were the first to explicitly present energon as something other than an artificially-generated fuel, establishing that it also existed as a naturally-occurring element. This element was necessary for the creation of pure energon, suggesting that the energon seen in the cartoons and comics was “impure”, created as it was without the use of this element. The idea of energon as an element was carried on in the Beast Wars animated series in 1996, (although it seems highly unlikely that it is anything more than the result of a delightful coincidence) where natural energon was introduced as a highly-unstable crystal. Dreamwave Productions subsequently explained that this crystal could be processed into a liquid form, like the artificial energon seen in the Generation 1 cartoons and comics. Eventually, IDW Publishing brought the two interpretations together, establishing that, in their continuity, energon occurrs naturally (as in Blackthorne and Beast Wars), but only on Cybertron, meaning that the Transformers had to rely on artificial substitutes (a la the Generation 1 cartoons and comics) after Cybertron was destroyed.
The concept of "energon as an element" was also at the core of the Transformers: Energon franchise. The energon seen in this series, however, is vastly different from any of the previous incarnations of the fuel from the Generation 1 continuity family, with many strange, unusually (indeed, nigh-on magical) powers. For this version of the fuel, see Energon (element).
Generation 1 cartoon
Energon is at first the specific power source of choice of the Decepticons exclusively, with the Autobots never using the material in their recorded adventures in the late 20th Century. By 2005, however - by choice or necessity - the Autobots had adopted energon as their fuel also. Energon has also been used as currency, mostly by entities that do not use it as sustenance, such as on the gambling asteroid of Monacus.
Energon is "refined" or created out of other energy sources, sometimes through machinery, but most often simply by attaching an empty energon cube, or placing one next to, the energy source which will be converted. The cube then goes to work automatically, converting the power source into liquid energon which fills the cube. Liquid energon has a glowing pink color. When cubes are compressed, they takes on an iridescent rainbow effect.
Energy sources refined into energon have included electricity, magma, oil and steam — all pillaged from Earth by the Decepticons on a regular basis. When the Autobots began using energon, on the other hand, they set up Autobot City to harmlessly harness Earth's many renewable resources and acquire the energy that way. The level of power any energon possesses appears to be related to the original base material from which it was converted — the especially pure oil of Carbombya, for example, yielded a particularly potent "super-energon" that created an instantly perceptible increase in vigour and strength in those who consumed it.
Transformers in 3D
The first issue of Blackthorne Publishing's Transformers in 3D comics featured an unusually specific discussion of energon, although it is outside of mainline continuity, and this information has not been re-used in other canonical sources.
According to Blackthorne, "pure energon" consists of several molecules (perhaps in the form of a macromolecule), one of which contains an element actually named "energon", which cannot be synthesized. The whole macromolecule is often referred to simply as energon.
The element energon is required for the creation of "pure" energon. This implies that an "impure" energon may exist that can be manufactured without the element energon, but is still referred to as energon because of its similar physical properties.
IDW comics continuity
Energon is at the heart of the revised continuity introduced in Infiltration and Stormbringer arcs. The Transformers apparently stripped Cybertron of its resources (including Energon) during the Autobot-Decepticon War, precipitating the cataclysm that rendered the planet sterile. Thus, the Transformers are spread across the galaxy, seeking new or synthetic sources of fuel — Starscream mentions "artificial Energon derivatives" and "scrabbling for micro-ergs of some foul local brew". Additionally, Megatron mentions that Energon has only been discovered to occur naturally on Cybertron, and that the Transformers had been living off artificial energon since the cataclysm.
The extent of Autobot energy-harvesting operations is as yet unknown, but it is clear that the Decepticons infiltrate and destabilize established societies with developed technology (presumably because local technology makes Energon harvesting quicker and easier) before stripping the infiltrated planets bare. The Autobots typically work to counter Decepticon infiltration units, possibly to deny the Decepticons new sources of energy as much as to protect the unwitting peoples of each planet from Decepticon pillaging.
An offhanded comment made by Ratchet indicates that one method for consuming Energon is the use of a delivery capsule. Presumably, this is the large, coffin-like device used by Starscream.
The discovery on Earth of Ore-13, an ore that can be purified into a unique and highly powerful form of Energon, threatens to throw humanity's home straight into the middle of the conflict as both Autobots and Decepticons vie for control of it. Unknown to either faction, Ore-13 was actually created by the Decepticon Shockwave, who seeded Earth with the substance millions of years ago as part of a project he called "Regenesis".
Back on Cybertron, another form of Energon has been discovered by both an Autobot science team led by Jetfire and a Decepticon group led by Bludgeon; the latter group has used this "Ultra Energon" to resurrect the avatar of the Cybertronian apocalypse, the Decepticon Thunderwing, in a plot to restore Cybertron to its former glory. Given that Bludgeon had uncovered Shockwave's Regenesis project, Ultra-Energon and Ore-13 appear to be the same substance.
As the Blackthorne comics had done before them, the Beast Wars cartoon treated energon as an element in its own right, rather than a refined product of other energies. The Beast Wars handling of energon was centered around the concept of the element existing in a naturally-occurring raw state as unstable crystals which generated powerful radiation. With extended exposure, this radiation threatened to overload the circuits of a normal Transformer, but could not penetrate through organic layers. When Optimus Primal and Megatron's crews arrived on prehistoric Earth and discovered the planet to be rich in raw energon, they adopted organic-skinned beast modes for the express purpose of shielding themselves from the radiation.
Although all appearances indicate that energon crystals can be naturally occurring, it was later revealed that the crystals on Earth has been seeded on the planet by the mysterious aliens known as the Vok, apparently as part of their back-up plan to sterilize Earth should the experiment they were conducting on it be disrupted somehow. The Beast Wars qualified as such a disruption, and using their Planet Buster weapon, the Vok detonated the vast majority of Earth's energon with a massive energy beam. The Planet Buster was destroyed by Optimus Primal, and much of the energon not destroyed was converted into a stable state in the form of solid cubes, also known as "energon cubes."
It is interesting to note that in the second episode of the pilot, Dinobot mentions that only Tarantulas has the skill necessary to "segment" raw Energon. What the segmentation process does is unknown, as it was never shown on-screen. However this does make one wonder how the Maximals were able to use the Energon for their own needs (unless one of the Maximals, perhaps Rhinox or Rattrap, knew the process themselves, another bit of info never stated). Also, there was never any consumption of Energon shown in Beast Wars, save for Terrorsaur's interesting way of absorbing raw Energon directly into his superstructure.
It seems that nergon in this continuity follows the same pattern as the energon of G1, in that it is a form of energy contained within shiny pink cubes. It also must be considered highly valuable, as one Sentinel was stupid/greedy enough to put himself and his friends in danger in order to get it. Animated Bulkhead claims he used to work on an Energon farm, which means that Energon is a crop in that continuity. Megatron probably raided the farms.
- Drinking Liquid Energon makes robots get
drunk"overcharged", shout "Energy! Energy!", talk about the "good ol' days", then pass out when the enemy attacks them.