difference between spontaneous and feasilble

andieje used Ask the Experts™

Please could someone explain the difference between the feasibility of a reaction and whether a reaction is spontaneous. I don't mean in terms of formula but in terms of the definition of the words as they seem to be used interchangably and I'm not sure they are the same thing.

I believe feasible refers to whether a reaction is thermodynamically possible but I also thought that was what spontaneous meant too

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You can burn wood and coal, but you have to ignite it.     Combustion is feasible.

Oily rags can burst  into flame.   Combustion is spontaneous.
There are also spontaneous mutations and nuclear disintegrations.
In these senses, spontaneous means "occurring naturally."
Feasible means that it is thermodynamically possible.
Spontaneous means it can happen without any energy input.

Obviously If something is spontaneous it is also feasible.


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