Endothermic Reaction: Definition & Example

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  • 0:01 What is an Endothermic…
  • 1:11 Endothermic Example 1:…
  • 1:57 Endothermic Example 2:…
  • 2:47 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Derrick Arrington

Derrick has taught biology and chemistry at both the high school and college level. He has a master's degree in science education.

Chemical reactions usually involve the exchange of energy in some form. In this lesson, you will learn about a type of reaction known as an endothermic reaction.

What is an Endothermic Reaction

You might think of chemical reactions as occurring exclusively in laboratories, but in reality, they occur in the world around us and in our own bodies every day. Most chemical reactions involve the exchange of energy between molecules and compounds. The bonds which hold molecules together contain a tremendous amount of energy. When these bonds are broken, a large amount of energy is released. This also means that it takes a great deal of energy to form bonds. The total energy of a chemical reaction is determined by the number of bonds broken and formed.

An endothermic reaction occurs when a greater amount of energy is required to break the existing bonds in the reactants than is released when the new bonds form in the products. In other words, this means an endothermic reaction requires or takes in energy in order for it to proceed. This required energy can be provided in many forms, but it is typically in the form of heat. That is, endothermic reactions will often draw heat from their environment in order to take place.

Endothermic Example 1: Photosynthesis

Endothermic reactions are fairly common. One of the most common examples of an endothermic reaction can be found in your garden. Photosynthesis, the reaction which allows plants to use sunlight to produce food and energy.

The energy that is taken in is light energy from the sun. The light energy is absorbed by tiny organelles known as chloroplasts. They contain a pigment known as chlorophyll. The chloroplasts are able to take in light energy and through a series of processes create sugars that the plants can use as an energy source. Since the plants require light energy in order to fuel the process and build complex sugar molecules, photosynthesis is a true endothermic reaction.

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