What is the balanced chemical equation for photosynthesis, and how is the process described in words?

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ncchemist's profile pic

ncchemist | eNotes Employee

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The most general chemical equation for oxygen based photosynthesis is as follows:

CO2 + H2O + photons --> CH2O + O2

This can be read as carbon dioxide plus water plus photons (energy from sunlight) gives a carbohydrate (CH2O) and oxygen.  You are probably looking for standard plant photosynthesis to make glucose.  That equation is here:

6CO2 + 6H2O + photons --> C6H12O6 + 6O2

This can be read as carbon dioxide plus water plus energy from sunlight gives glucose (C6H12O6) and oxygen.  Basically the carbon dioxide is taken in through the leaves of the plant.  The water is taken in from the root system.  Organelles in the plant called chloroplasts contain a pigment called chlorophyll which is able to absorb energy from the sunlight.  The glucose produced is the energy the plant uses for its own cellular processes.  And the oxygen is a byproduct of the process that is dissipated through the leaves and into the air for humans and animals to breathe.

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wanderista | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 2) Valedictorian

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Balanced Chemical Equation:

6CO2 (g) + 6H2O (l) + photons (from sunlight) -> C6H12O6 (aq.) + 6O2 (g)

Unbalanced Chemical Equation:

CO2 (g) + H2o (l) + photons (from sunlight) -> C6H12O6 (aq.) + O2 (g)

Word Equation:

Carbon dioxide gas + Liquid water + Phorons from sunlight -> Glucose sugar + Oxygen gas

gelsaied's profile pic

gelsaied | Student, College Freshman | (Level 1) Honors

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Photosynthesis is a Redox process

Energy+6CO2 +6H20-->C6H1206 + 6O2

6CO2 becomes reduced to C6H12O6

6H20 becomes oxidized to 6C02

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krishnasis123 | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) Honors

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6 CO2 + 12 H2O + photons ----> C6H12O6 + 6 O2 + 6 H2O


(carbon dioxide + water + light energy → glucose + oxygen + water)

missyanyan's profile pic

missyanyan | Student | (Level 1) Honors

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6CO2 + 6H2O ---> C6H12O6 + 6O2

this equates to:

carbon dioxide + water -----------> sugar (glucose) + oxygen
                                     light enzyme


CO2 : diffuses into the leaves

H2O : diffuses into the roots

Chlorophyll : a pigment contained in the chloroplast

Light : absorbed through the leaves

Enzymes : chemicals to speed up the reactions

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