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Exergonic Reaction vs. Endergonic Reaction: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Published on February 29, 2024
An exergonic reaction releases energy, occurring spontaneously, while an endergonic reaction requires energy input and is non-spontaneous.
Exergonic Reaction vs. Endergonic Reaction

Key Differences

Exergonic reactions are characterized by a negative Gibbs free energy change, indicating they release energy, typically in the form of heat or light. Endergonic reactions, in contrast, have a positive Gibbs free energy change, requiring an input of energy to proceed, often sourced from the surroundings or other reactions.
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed
Feb 29, 2024
In exergonic reactions, the energy of the products is lower than the energy of the reactants, illustrating energy release. Endergonic reactions have higher energy products than reactants, reflecting the energy absorbed during the reaction process.
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Feb 29, 2024
Exergonic reactions are generally spontaneous under given conditions, meaning they can occur without external assistance once initiated. Endergonic reactions are non-spontaneous, relying on continuous energy input to proceed, often coupled with exergonic reactions in biological systems.
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Cellular respiration is a classic example of an exergonic reaction, where glucose is broken down, releasing energy. Photosynthesis is an endergonic reaction, where energy from sunlight is absorbed to convert carbon dioxide and water into glucose.
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Exergonic reactions are common in catabolic pathways, breaking down molecules to release energy. Endergonic reactions are typical in anabolic pathways, where complex molecules are synthesized, requiring energy input.
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Comparison Chart

Energy Change

Releases energy (negative Gibbs free energy)
Absorbs energy (positive Gibbs free energy)
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Spontaneity

Generally spontaneous
Non-spontaneous, requires energy input
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Product and Reactant Energy

Lower energy in products than reactants
Higher energy in products than reactants
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Examples

Cellular respiration, combustion
Photosynthesis, synthesis of macromolecules
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Biological Role

Common in catabolic pathways
Common in anabolic pathways
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Exergonic Reaction and Endergonic Reaction Definitions

Exergonic Reaction

Exergonic reactions have a negative Gibbs free energy change.
In an exergonic reaction, the total energy decreases, as seen in cellular respiration.
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Endergonic Reaction

Endergonic reactions are not spontaneous.
The creation of complex carbohydrates from simpler ones is an endergonic process.
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Exergonic Reaction

Exergonic reactions often occur spontaneously.
The rusting of iron is a spontaneous exergonic reaction.
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Endergonic Reaction

In endergonic reactions, the products have more energy than reactants.
The formation of starch from glucose is an endergonic reaction.
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Exergonic Reaction

Exergonic reactions typically result in the release of heat or light.
Fireworks exploding is an exergonic reaction that releases light and sound.
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Endergonic Reaction

Endergonic reactions have a positive Gibbs free energy change.
The synthesis of ATP in cells is an endergonic reaction, absorbing energy.
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Exergonic Reaction

Exergonic reactions are common in catabolic processes.
Breaking down sugars in the body is an exergonic process, providing energy.
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Endergonic Reaction

An endergonic reaction requires energy input to occur.
Photosynthesis is an endergonic reaction, needing sunlight to produce glucose.
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Exergonic Reaction

An exergonic reaction releases energy as it proceeds.
The combustion of wood is an exergonic reaction, releasing heat and light.
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Endergonic Reaction

Endergonic reactions are typical in anabolic processes.
Muscle growth involves endergonic reactions to build protein structures.
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

How is energy released in exergonic reactions?

Energy is typically released as heat, light, or transferred to other molecules.
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Feb 29, 2024

Can exergonic and endergonic reactions occur together?

Yes, they often couple in biological systems, like in cellular respiration and photosynthesis.
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What is an endergonic reaction?

An endergonic reaction requires energy input and is non-spontaneous.
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What energy changes occur in endergonic reactions?

Endergonic reactions absorb energy, increasing the energy level of products.
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What’s an example of an exergonic reaction in living organisms?

Cellular respiration, where glucose is broken down, is a key exergonic process.
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What defines an exergonic reaction?

An exergonic reaction releases energy and often occurs spontaneously.
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How do enzymes affect these reactions?

Enzymes can lower the activation energy, facilitating both exergonic and endergonic reactions.
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Are endergonic reactions common in human metabolism?

Yes, especially in synthesizing complex molecules.
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What’s a biological example of an endergonic reaction?

Photosynthesis in plants is an endergonic process requiring sunlight energy.
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Are exergonic reactions always fast?

No, the rate can vary; some are fast, while others are slow.
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Do endergonic reactions always require light energy?

No, they can use various energy forms, not just light.
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What is the Gibbs free energy change in exergonic reactions?

It’s negative, indicating energy release.
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Can exergonic reactions happen without enzymes?

Yes, but enzymes often speed up the reaction.
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How do temperature changes affect exergonic reactions?

Increased temperature generally speeds up these reactions.
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Are endergonic reactions reversible?

In theory, yes, but they require different conditions to reverse.
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Does pH affect endergonic reactions?

Yes, pH can influence the rate and feasibility of these reactions.
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What is the Gibbs free energy change in endergonic reactions?

It’s positive, indicating energy absorption.
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What’s a common feature of all exergonic reactions?

Energy release is a universal feature.
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Is ATP formation an endergonic reaction?

Yes, it requires energy to form ATP molecules.
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Can exergonic reactions create energy?

They don't create energy but release stored chemical energy.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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