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The standard enthalpy of formation is the enthalpy change when 1 mol of a pure substance is formed from itselements.

Each element must be in the physical and chemical form which is most stable at normal atmospheric pressure and a specified temperature (usually 25°C). For example, if we know that ΔHf[H2O(l)] = –285.8 kJ mol–1, we can immediately write the thermochemical equation H2(g) + ½O2(g) → H2O(l) ΔHm = –285.8 kJ mol–1 (1)

I'm pretty sure Leirsyn is right about using the absolute value of delta H for catalytic hydrogenation, and since it's smaller for 1,3-butadiene we know that this molecule is more stable than it's isomer, 2-butyne. I think it's easy to just say "the more negative/lower/less positive" is the "right answer", but there's a difference between "deltaH for catalytic hydrogenation" and "standard deltaH of formation". STANDARD deltaHformation is the enthalpy change when a substance is made from its elements in their standard states. The more negative deltaHf or the less positive deltaHf is the more stable isomer. The isomer with the lowest absolute value for deltaH for catalytic hydrogenation is the most stable isomer. The two delta H's are different because the first (standard enthalpy of formation) measures the formation from ELEMENTS, whereas the second (catalytic hydrogenation), measures the enthalpy change from before and after the addition of H2 to a pi bond with a catalyst. SO the rules for determining which isomer is most stable changes depending on which deltaH you're looking at. After posting this, I found it explained on page 75 of the Thinkbook, in the italicized wording toward the top of the page.

hey im doing some revision for my chem AS level and im struggling with most of the questions- but the answers arent in the book, or i dont understand them. there probably an obvious anser but i dont understand it so heres the question! a)How is the enthalpy of formation of a substance connected to the stability of the substance? b)the enthalpy of combusion of rhombic sulphur is -296.6 kjmol but monoclinic is -297, they both form suphur dioxide when burnt. why are these two values different and which of te two allotropes is more thermodynamically stable!! be grateful for any information or helpful links:) a) the higher the enthalpy of formation of a substance, the higher the energy level of the substance. The higher the energy level of the substance, the less stable it becomes, as it can lose more energy by reacting to from lower energy products.

This, however, only refers to thermodynamic stability, not kinetic stability, which is unaffected by enthalpy of formation. b)I'n not sure on the difference, but the more thermodynamically stable allotrope is the one which is at a higher energy level, and will therefore have a larger enthalpy of combustion.

thanks for the info I’m a bit confused by the part b bit though... i see that a higher energy substance is less thermodynamically stable; so in part b do you mean that the more stable allotrope is the one which is at a lower energy level or is it a totally different concept?