I am particularly interested in knowing about glucose breakdown. If we artificially burn glucose, will the energy released be the same if it is broken down in steps(like in a living cell)?

  • $\begingroup$ @Philipp I think you should put this as the answer. It answers my question exactly ! :) $\endgroup$
    – biogirl
    Commented Sep 5, 2013 at 17:29
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, done. It's only a quick and dirty answer but if you want to know more you can always ask. $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Commented Sep 5, 2013 at 17:33
  • $\begingroup$ nooo...acc.to hess law,enthalpy is conserved whether the rxn is done in single or many steps $\endgroup$
    – user2318
    Commented Sep 17, 2013 at 6:04

1 Answer 1


You might want to take a look at Hess's law. It states that the total enthalpy change during the complete course of a reaction is the same whether the reaction is made in one step or in several steps. But that covers only the thermodynamic aspect. In reality, you also have kinetic barriers (activation energy) which add to the energy needed for a reaction to run (or released during a reaction). That's why catalysts are so useful: They break a reaction down into steps (involving different intermediates) with lower activation barriers than the original reaction so that the reaction as a whole can proceed at a lower temperature.


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