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Bond Enthalpy

This part of the Energetics topic is the easiest. You should have done most of it at GCSE. We are looking at
using average bond enthalpies to calculate the enthalpy change for a reaction.

bond enthalpy is the energy required to break a covalent bond in a molecule i.e. how strong a bond is

We are looking at how much energy it takes to break the bonds in the reactants and how much energy is
given out when the new bonds in the products are formed.

remember bond breaking is endothermic and bond making is exothermic

To calculate the enthalpy of the reaction it is just the difference between values of the bond making and

H = sum of reactant bond enthalpies sum of product bond enthalpies

The questions will talk about average or mean bond enthalpies. Every molecule will have slightly
different values for the same bond types e.g. the O-H bond strength in ethanol will be different from the
O-H in other alcohols.

Therefore, the bond enthalpy values used in questions are average values over a range of molecules.

when bond enthalpy is mentioned, the values are all endothermic i.e. how much energy required to
break a bond.

average bond enthalpy values are only for gases.


CH4(g) + 4F2(g) CF4(g) + 4HF(g)

Bond C-H F-F C-F H-F

Mean Bond Enthalpy (KJ mol-1) 412 158 484 562

Calculate the enthalpy change for the above reaction.

You just need to use: H = sum of reactant bond enthalpies sum of product bond enthalpies

students make silly mistakes by missing out a bond somewhere or forgetting to multiply by 4 etc. It is
sometimes easier just drawing out the molecules in full.

Reactants Products

H = sum of reactant bond enthalpies sum of product bond enthalpies

= 2280 4184

= -1904 KJ mol-1

if you follow the steps above you should never get confused about the sign at the end. But just to
convince yourself. If the reactant value is higher than the products it should be endothermic and

you can of course get variations on this type of question. For example, calculate the F-F bond
enthalpy in the example above. Its worth seeing if you can get the answer of 158. In that case they
would give you the enthalpy change of -1904. Youll need to divide by 4 at the end F-F.

Experimental value versus theoretical value

These values will differ due to the use of the average/mean bond enthalpies in the calculation. In a real
reaction the values are not mean values! Also watch out for changes of state as mean bond enthalpies
are for gases.