Potential, Kinetic, Free, and Activation Energy

Art Connections

Figure Look at each of the processes shown, and decide if it is endergonic or exergonic. In each case, does enthalpy increase or decrease, and does entropy increase or decrease?


Figure A compost pile decomposing is an exergonic process; enthalpy increases (energy is released) and entropy increases (large molecules are broken down into smaller ones). A baby developing from a fertilized egg is an endergonic process; enthalpy decreases (energy is absorbed) and entropy decreases. Sand art being destroyed is an exergonic process; there is no change in enthalpy, but entropy increases. A ball rolling downhill is an exergonic process; enthalpy decreases (energy is released), but there is no change in entropy.

Figure If no activation energy were required to break down sucrose (table sugar), would you be able to store it in a sugar bowl?


Figure No. We can store chemical energy because of the need to overcome the barrier to its breakdown.