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Gibb’s Free Energy and the Nature of Chemical Reactions

By Lou Gross1, Monica Beals1, Susan Harrell1

University of Tennessee Knoxville

This module introduces Gibb’s Free Energy in the context of understanding the nature of chemical reactions. It is intended for an introductory biology audience.

Listed in Teaching Materials | resource by group Quantitative Biology at Community Colleges

Version 1.0 - published on 20 Dec 2018 doi:10.25334/Q4T72Z - cite this

Licensed under CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

gibbseq2.gif gibbsfig2.gif


This activity maps to the OpenStax biology textbook, 6.2 Potential, Kinetic, Free, and Activation Energy

Student Introduction: In a chemical reaction, some bonds are broken in the reactants in order to form bonds in the products. Some product molecules will participate in the reverse reaction in order to reform reactants. The initial rate of product formation depends on the initial concentrations of reactants and products. As product concentration increases, the rate of the reverse reaction increases. Eventually, the rate of forward and reverse reactions become equal. Under these circumstances, the concentrations of reactants and products are constant, and the mixture is said to be in chemical equilibrium. Since breaking bonds requires energy and forming bonds releases energy, the net energy of a chemical reaction will depend on the sum of energy absorbed and generated. Eventually, the difference in energy between the reactants and products decreases as equilibrium is achieved.


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