Difference Between Active and Passive Transport

active and passive transport in cells


There are few important cells in the body that has some very essential processes deep within. These processes are very important for the development and growth of every organism whether it is an animal or a plant. It is the fact that every internal process has a vital and unique mechanism done to make it successful. In this regard, nutrients, chemicals and other substances are flowing to and fro the cells with the use of certain transport systems. These transport mechanism systems are further classified into two different systems named as active and passive transport systems.

Defining in simple words active transport is called ‘active’ due to the inclusion of one vital component and that is the use of energy. This important component is being used by the cells, in the form of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) for it to be able to transfer most substances in and out of its cellular membranes. While On the other hand, passive transport is termed as passive because it is just a plain old ‘passive’ mechanism. It does not utilize any energy (ATP) from the cell for it to carry out the said processes.

Another major characteristic that differentiates active from passive transport system is the variation in the concentration gradients. It must be made known that the concentration of substances that are separated by cell membranes are bit different. For example, the inside of the cell has a concentration gradient that is higher (more concentrated) than the outside of the cell (less concentrated) or and vice versa depending on different biological factors. Hence, in active transport, it tries to attain a more difficult task of opposing the concentration gradient. If the cell wants to transport certain substances towards itself (in this situation, it so happens to be more concentrated) then it needs much energy for its protein or sodium pumps to operate and transfer the said substances.

While on the other hand passive transport is not against but along the concentration gradient. Because the cell sees that the same ions or molecules can be transferred to the other side immediately due to a ‘favourable’ concentration gradient, it no longer expends any energy. The word ‘favourable’ simply means that it follows the laws of normal diffusion. When the substances from the more concentrated internal environment of the cell are to be transported outside, that is for example the outside happens to be less concentrated, then the substances can easily flow out.

Key Differences between active transport and the passive transport


  • Active transport utilizes energy while on the other hand passive transport does not require any energy.
  • In active transport molecules move against the concentration gradient while on the other hand in passive transport, molecules move from high to low concentration..
  • Kinds of active transport are endocytosis, exocytosis. kinds of passive transport include, osmosis, diffusion.
  • Any substance soluble is transported by passive transport and particles like proteins, ions, large cells, sugars are transported by the process of active transport.


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