Organic Chemistry/Introduction to reactions/Gibbs free energy
Gibbs free energy is represented by the following equation:
- ΔG = ΔH -TΔS
- ΔG is the change in Gibbs free energy.
- ΔH is the change in potential energy, sometimes known as the enthalpy of a system.
- T is the temperature in Kelvin.
- ΔS is a statistical correlation, known as the entropy of a system.
The basic principle is that total entropy increases. This increase can be because of an increase in the entropy of the chemicals, ΔS, or because the reaction has produced heat, increasing the entropy of the environment.
The Gibbs free energy lets us calculate the total increase in entropy, including the effects on the environment, without needing to know anything about the environment.
At low temperatures, ΔG is approximately ΔH, and nature favours the reaction with lowest energy products, which release the most heat. This may reduce the entropy of the system, but the increase in the entropy of the environment more than compensates.
At high temperatures, ΔG is approximately -TΔS, and nature favours the reaction with high energy products, which may actually absorb heat. This may reduce the entropy of the environment, but the increase in the entropy of the system more than compensates.
Either way, the Gibbs free energy always decreases.