Potential, Kinetic, Free, and Activation Energy

Free Response

Explain in your own words the difference between a spontaneous reaction and one that occurs instantaneously, and what causes this difference.


A spontaneous reaction is one that has a negative ∆G and thus releases energy. However, a spontaneous reaction need not occur quickly or suddenly like an instantaneous reaction. It may occur over long periods due to a large energy of activation, which prevents the reaction from occurring quickly.

Describe the position of the transition state on a vertical energy scale, from low to high, relative to the position of the reactants and products, for both endergonic and exergonic reactions.


The transition state is always higher in energy than the reactants and the products of a reaction (therefore, above), regardless of whether the reaction is endergonic or exergonic.