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Question Video: Describing the Photosynthesis Process as Endothermic or Exothermic Reaction Biology

For photosynthesis to occur, energy has to be taken in from the surroundings. What type of chemical reaction is this?

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Video Transcript

For photosynthesis to occur, energy has to be taken in from the surroundings. What type of chemical reaction is this?

When we’re discussing energy and chemical reactions, there are really two types that we’re concerned with. And those two types are called endothermic and exothermic. And I think it’s helpful to start by illustrating the difference between the two graphically. Our 𝑥-axis will represent reaction progress. And we’ll let our 𝑦-axis be stored chemical energy. So, this is what these graphs would look like.

In an endothermic reaction, the reactants have less stored chemical energy than the products, which means that energy must be absorbed or added to the reaction in order for it to occur. Endo- is a prefix that can mean to take in. And thermic make is a term that means heat or energy. In contrast, in an exothermic reaction, the products possess less stored chemical energy than the reactants. That means that as this reaction occurs, energy is released. Exo- is a prefix that can mean to be released.

One example of an endothermic reaction is photosynthesis. In photosynthesis, energy from light is stored in a high-energy product, glucose. An example of an exothermic reaction is cellular respiration. High-energy glucose releases energy as it’s broken down. And that energy is used to generate ATP molecules. Since we know that photosynthesis absorbs light energy and stores it in its product glucose, we know that it’s an endothermic chemical reaction.

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