I was thinking, if you have a large amount of water, with an uneven solute concentration, diffusion will lead to an even concentration of solute throughout the solution.
Intuitively,that would mean that our system initially has a large amount of potential energy, and that it decreases to a minimum.
I feel like this raises two questions :
Firstly, from which force does this inital "osmotic" potential energy derive ?
Secondly, under what form is this potential energy realeased once concentration equilibrium is reached ?
What's more, if you consider a cell membrane with a great concentration difference between one side, and another, simple diffusion will lead solute molecules to pass through the membrane. So, in order to pass through the membrane, a solute would have to expend potential energy : the diffusion reaction would have a certain activation energy. Under what form is this energy then dissipated ? It would first become kinetic enrgy, allowing the solute to pass through the membrane, but what form would it then take ? Simply heat energy ?
Any answer would be greatly appreciated, thanks.