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Activation Energy (3 of 3), Illustration

Activation Energy (3 of 3), Illustration

C027/6773

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INTELECOM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY INTELECOM / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Sequence demonstrating the activation energy of enzymes, represented by a ball attempting to roll uphill. This is image 3 out of 3. For any chemical reaction to occur, an energy barrier must be overcome. This energy barrier is known as activation energy. Imagine a ball sitting on top of a hill. For the ball to roll down the hill and release its stored energy, an initial energy must be applied to overcome the ball's inertia. Once the barrier is exceeded, the energy invested is returned as the ball rolls down the hill. In order for this reaction to proceed quickly, the barrier must be reduced. Enzymes, in fact, all catalysts, speed up chemical reactions by lowering activation energy. In the case of our ball analogy, an enzyme would reduce the amount of initial energy needed to push the ball down the hill. Once the enzyme has lowered activation energy, the rate of the reaction can be dramatically increased. Not only are the molecular results of the.

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