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BIOLOGY
Asked by Lina

Why are most bond enthalpies mean values?

Firstly what is bond enthalpy? It is basically the energy required to break a bond (or the energy released when you make a bond) between two atoms at given temperature and pressure. Now, since every atom bonds differently with every other atom, which is in turn influenced by what it bonds to, the bond enthalpy values differ ever so slightly for every bond. While it is pragmatic to know each bond’s enthalpy value (which will be the actual bond value) —this is actually what we do for simple diatomic compounds like O=O—. However, it is impractical for ones that bond with so many other atoms. As such, we take a lot of measurements (actual bond enthalpy) and deduce an average value for it, which becomes the average bond enthalpy for the given bond in any compound. This is of course an average, but this approximation is such that given any compound having such a bond present, you have an actual bond value close to the average. For bonds in diatomic gases, the actual bond enthalpy is given. For atoms capable of making a lot of bonds with other atoms (e.g. carbon of C-H), the average bond enthalpy value is given.

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Saurabh Gupta
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