Edexcel A Level Chemistry:复习笔记1.8.2 Enthalpy Level Diagrams

Enthalpy Level Diagrams


  • The total chemical energy inside a substance is called the enthalpy (or heat content)
  • When chemical reactions take place, changes in chemical energy take place and therefore the enthalpy changes
  • An enthalpy change is represented by the symbol ΔH (Δ= change; H = enthalpy)
  • An enthalpy change can be positive or negative

Exam Tip

Activation energy is not shown in enthalpy level diagrams

Activation is shown in reaction profile diagrams

Exothermic reactions

  • A reaction is exothermic when the products have less energy than the reactants
  • Heat energy is given off by the reaction to the surroundings
    • The temperature of the environment increases - this can be measured with a thermometer
    • The energy of the system decreases


  • There is an enthalpy decrease during the reaction so ΔH is negative
  • Exothermic reactions are thermodynamically possible (because the enthalpy of the reactants is higher than that of the products)
  • However, if the rate is too slow, the reaction may not occur
    • In this case the reaction is kinetically controlled



The enthalpy change during an exothermic reaction


Endothermic reactions

  • A reaction is endothermic when the products have more energy than the reactants
  • Heat energy is absorbed by the reaction from the surroundings
    • The temperature of the environment decreases - this can be measured with a thermometer
    • The energy of the system increases


  • There is an enthalpy increase during the reaction so ΔH is positive


The enthalpy change during an endothermic reaction

Exam Tip

It is important to specify the physical states of each species in an equation when dealing with enthalpy changes as any changes in state can cause very large changes of enthalpy. For example:

NaCl (s) → Na+ (aq) + Cl- (aq)   ΔH = +4 kJ mol-1

NaCl (g) → Na+ (g) + Cl- (g)   ΔH = +500 kJ mol-1

Also, remember that the system is the substances that are reacting (i.e. the reaction itself) and the surroundings is everything else (e.g. the flask the reaction is taking place in).