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Endothermic reactions: Heat is absorbed.

1) Photosynthesis: Plants absorb heat energy from sunlight to convert carbon


dioxide and water into glucose and oxygen.

6CO2 + 6 H2O + heat ---> C6H12O6 + 6O2

2) Cooking an egg: Heat energy is absorbed from the pan to cook the egg.

Exothermic reactions: Heat is released.


1) Combustion: The burning of carbon-containing compounds uses oxygen,
from air, and produces carbon dioxide, water, and lots of heat. For example,
combustion of methane (\text{CH}_4CH4C, H, start subscript, 4, end
subscript) can be represented as follows:

CH4 + 2(O2) ---> CO2 + 2H2O + heat

2) Rain: Condensation of water vapor into rain releasing energy in the form
of heat is an example of an exothermic process.

Why is heat released or absorbed in a chemical


reaction?
In any chemical reaction, chemical bonds are either broken or formed. And
the rule of thumb is "When chemical bonds are formed, heat is released, and
when chemical bonds are broken, heat is absorbed." Molecules inherently
want to stay together, so formation of chemical bonds between molecules
requires less energy as compared to breaking bonds between molecules,
which requires more energy and results in heat being absorbed from the
surroundings.

What is enthalpy of a reaction?


Enthalpy of a reaction is defined as the heat energy change (ΔHΔH) that
takes place when reactants go to products. If heat is absorbed during the
reaction, ΔHΔH is positive; if heat is released, then ΔHΔH is negative.
ΔH value negative --> energy released --> exothermic reactionΔH
value positive --> energy absorbed --> endothermic reaction
∆H=∑∆H(bonds broken in reactants)−∑∆H(bonds made in
products)
Let's understand this through an example. We can calculate the enthalpy
change (ΔHΔH) for the following reaction:
H2(g) + F2(g) = 2HFH2(g)+F2(g)=2HFH, 2, left parenthesis, g,
right parenthesis, plus, F, 2, left parenthesis, g, right parenthesis,
equals, 2, H, F

We know that the bond energy—in kilojoules or kJ—for H2H2H, 2, F2F2F,


2, and HFHFH, F are 436436436, 158158158 and 568568568 kJ/mole
respectively.

Let’s first figure out what’s happening in this particular reaction. Looking at
the chemical reaction, it’s clear that one mole of H-HH−HH, minus, H and
one mole of F-FF−FF, minus, Fbonds are being broken to generate two
moles of H-FH−FH, minus, F bonds. Breaking of bonds requires absorption
of energy, while formation of bonds releases energy.

To break one mole of H2H2H, 2, energy absorbed is 436436436 kJ.

To break one mole of F2F2F, 2, energy absorbed is 158 kJ.

To form two moles of HFHFH, F, energy released is 2 X (568) kJ.

So applying the
equation,∆H=∑∆H(bondsbrokeninreactants)−∑∆H(bondsmadeinproducts)

ΔHreaction=(436+158)–(2X568)=−542kJ
The overall enthalpy of the reaction is negative, i.e., it’s an exothermic
reaction where energy is released in the form of heat.

Depiction of an energy diagram


In a chemical reaction, some bonds are broken and some bonds are formed.
During the course of the reaction, there exists an intermediate stage, where
chemical bonds are partially broken and partially formed. This intermediate
exists at a higher energy level than the starting reactants; it is very unstable
and is referred to as the transition state. The energy required to reach this
transition state is called activation energy. We can define activation energy as
the minimum amount of energy required to initiate a reaction, and it is
denoted by E_{act}EactE, start subscript, a, c, t, end subscript.

An energy diagram can be defined as a diagram showing the relative


potential energies of reactants, transition states, and products as a reaction
progresses with time. One can calculate the E_{act}EactE, start subscript, a, c,
t, end subscript and ΔHΔH for any reaction from its energy diagram.
Let’s draw an energy diagram for the following reaction:

The activation energy is the difference in the energy between the transition
state and the reactants. It’s depicted with a red arrow. The enthalpy change—
ΔHΔH—of the reaction is depicted with a green arrow. So, now you should
be able to clearly differentiate between E_{act}EactE, start subscript, a, c, t,
end subscript and ΔHΔH on an energy diagram.

Energy diagrams for endothermic and


exothermic reactions
In the case of an endothermic reaction, the reactants are at a lower energy
level compared to the products—as shown in the energy diagram below. In
other words, the products are less stable than the reactants. Since we are
forcing the reaction in the forward direction towards more unstable entities,
overall ΔHΔH for the reaction is positive, i.e., energy is absorbed from the
surroundings.

In the case of an exothermic reaction, the reactants are at a higher energy


level as compared to the products, as shown below in the energy diagram. In
other words, the products are more stable than the reactants.
Overall ΔHΔH for the reaction is negative, i.e., energy is released in the form
of heat.