Law of Conservation of Mass Project (Photosynthesis)

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  • The law of conservation of mass states that matter is neither created nor destroyed in chemical changes. This means that the total mass for the reactants needs to equal the total mass of the products.
  • Does photosynthesis follow the law of conservation of mass?
  • Yea, come on, let's talk about it together!
  • The reactants are 6 atoms of carbon dioxide, 6 atoms of water, and some sunlight. The chemical formula is 6CO2+6H2O + sunlight.
  • What are the reactants for photosynthesis?
  • The reactants are 6 carbon dioxide, 6 water, and some sunlight.
  • Ok, so what happens to the reactants and what do they create?
  • The mass of these reactants adds to equal the total mass of the products, which are 1 glucose and 6 oxygen.
  • They undergo a chemical reaction, forming 1 atom of glucose and 6 atoms of oxygen.
  • The overall balanced chemical equation is 6CO6 + 6H2O ---> C2H12O6 + 6O6  where the arrow represents sunlight energy. There are equal amounts of each atom on both sides of the chemical equation.
  • Oh, so is there any sort of equation that represents this?
  • Yes, and in the chemical equation, you can clearly see that photosynthesis does follow the law of conservation of mass!
  • Wait, so what happened to the sunlight? Why isn't it on the right side of the chemical equation?!?
  • Also, the law of conservation of energy states that energy is neither created nor destroyed, it is only converted from one form to another. In the case of photosynthesis, energy is converted from sunlight into glucose.
  • Since sunlight was a reactant in the equation, the energy was converted from sunlight into glucose. That's why it wasn't part of the product.
  • Photosynthesis is an example of an endothermic chemical reaction because plants require an input of energy to make glucose and oxygen from carbon dioxide, water, and sunlight.
  • Cool, but is this an endothermic or exothermic reaction?
  • It is an endothermic reaction, because plants absorb carbon dioxide and water to convert it into energy that can later be used by an organism. And this concludes this lesson of the law of conservation of mass!
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