What Is the Difference between Active and Passive Transport

active and passive transport

A person might not show interest in knowing the difference between active and passive transport unless he/she is a biology student. But, every fitness freak individual must have an idea about this biological phenomenon, for it relates to the human body.

What is the Difference between Active and Passive Transport?

Active and passive transport refers to the diffusion of ions across the plasma membrane in a cell. This biological process is essential to maintain homeostasis within the cell. The homeostasis means equilibrium or balance of substances like various ions inside the cell. Briefly, it is a process that ensures the stable state of a cell’s internal environment.

To assist the process of homeostasis, active and passive transport of materials, like ions across the cell membrane is essential.

active and passive transport

What Is an Active Transport?

Active transport is the flow of ions from an area of low concentration gradient to the high concentration gradient, at the expense of energy. Just take a simple everyday example of climbing up a mountain. The task requires energy as one has to move upwards against the gravitational force. In the same manner, active transport requires energy in the form of ATP (Adenosine Tri-Phosphate) at a cellular level. Active transport mechanism utilizes a sodium-potassium ion pump to move the ions against the concentration gradient. In this process, three sodium ions (Na+) move out of the cell while two potassium ions (K+) ions move inside the cell against the concentration gradient.

Knowing about active transport might help a biology student to do best in exams, but for an ordinary individual, it helps in maintaining fitness. After understanding the significance of potassium ions, people can add the potassium-rich food in their diet.

What is the Passive Transport?

The difference between active and passive transport lies in moving against or in favor of the concentration gradient. Contrary to active transport, passive transport is all about moving of ions, substances, and molecules in favor of concentration gradient. In this kind of transport, contents move from higher to lower area of concentration. Hence, their movement doesn’t require any energy. Osmosis and diffusion of fluids, liquid, and other such molecules are included in passive transport.  


(Credit – JCCCvideo)

Significance of Active and Passive Transport

Both active and passive transport perform their functions at the cellular level and ensure the overall well-being of an organism. Passive transport ensures the equilibrium of substances like water, carbon dioxide and oxygen in the cell. And, active transport is vital for transporting sugars and proteins inside of the cell according to requirements.

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