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Why does the calculated values of enthalpy change different from the reference values? Suggest two reasons.

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  1. Average bond enthalpies (note the word "average") are calculated in a different way from formation enthalpies. Formation enthalpies are well-defined and precise, meaning that two different people could measure them the same way and get the same answer. Average bond enthalpies are averages over many different types of bonds.

    For example, there is only one way to make CH4
    , but there are many different molecules with C−H bonds. The enthalpy of dissociation of a C−H bond in CH4 is different from that in C2H6, and in C6H6, and really in any other molecule you can think of. To find average bond enthalpies, a selection of a large number of those bonds in many different molecules is taken, and the enthalpy of dissociation for each is measured. Then, the average (mean) is recorded. If you look at some different charts of bond enthalpies, you will notice two things: First, there are some numbers marked "exact" - H−H, Cl−Cl, F−F

    , for example. This is because there is only one molecule with each of those types of bonds. The other thing you will notice is that depending on which chart you are using, many of the numbers will be slightly different. This is because there is no universal, unchanging standard describing which molecules are used to determine each bond - it depends upon what the people making the chart decided to use.

    Because of this difference, when making predictions, average bond enthalpies are less accurate than formation enthalpies. In practice, they are used for quick estimations, or as a last resort when formation enthalpies are not available.

    When I taught chemistry, I would have my students measure reaction enthalpies in lab, then calculate them using formation enthalpy tables and average bond dissociation enthalpy tables. The goal was to show them that average bond enthalpies can be reasonably close for rough estimates, but that formation enthalpies are much better in practice. It also showed them that accurately measuring reaction enthalpy in the lab is difficult!

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