means to release energy in the form of work. Its etymology stems from the suffix -ergonic
, as derived from the Greek root ergon
, combined with the Greek prefix ex-
meaning out of
. By thermodynamic standards, work, a form of energy
, is defined normally to move from the system
(the internal region) to the surroundings
(the external region). Thus, an exergonic process, as contrasted with an endergonic
process, is one that releases energy from the system, of which it is a part, to the surroundings. As a result, during an exergonic process, energy is released out of
the system. If the transformation occurs at constant pressure and temperature, ∆G < 0. When Gibbs free energy
is less than 0, the reaction is exergonic (releases energy).
All physical and chemical systems in the universe follow the second law of thermodynamics and proceed in a downhill; i.e., exergonic, direction. Thus, left to itself, any physical or chemical system will proceed, according to the second law of thermodynamics, in a direction that tends to lower the free energy of the system, and thus to expend energy in the form of work. These reactions occur spontaneously.