Passive Transport

Transportation is the process of movement or distribution of different materials or goods from one place to another. In general, we humans make use of different means of transportation. Similarly, the living system, including plants, animals, and humans has an amazing network of transportation systems, involved in circulating food, minerals, hormones, oxygen, carbon dioxide, waste products, etc.

There are two types of transportation in our body- Active and Passive Transport, which help in the transportation of biochemical nutrients like water and oxygen to the cells.

  • Active transport: It is the biological process of movement of the molecules against the concentration gradient. Thus, it requires chemical energy to transport the components from an area of lower concentration to an area of higher concentration.
  • Passive transport: It is the biological process of movements of the biochemical across the cell membranes and tissues.

Passive transport is a natural phenomenon, which does not require any external energy.

Let us explore more about Passive transport, its types and other related examples.

Table of Contents

What is Passive Transport?

Passive transport is the fundamental movement of ions and other molecular substances within the cells along the concentration gradient, without any external energy. It is also known as passive diffusion.

Passive Transport

Passive Transport

Types Of Passive Transport

There are four types of passive transport:

  1. Simple Diffusion
  2. Facilitated Diffusion
  3. Filtration
  4. Osmosis

Simple Diffusion

Types of Passive Transport - Simple Diffusion

Types of Passive Transport – Simple Diffusion

Diffusion is the movement of substances from a region of higher concentration to a lower concentration.  The difference in the concentration of the two areas is termed a concentration gradient and the process of diffusion continues until this gradient neutralizes.  Diffusion occurs in liquids and gases because their particles move randomly from one place to another. It is an important process in living things required for different life processes. The substances move in and out of the cells by simple diffusion.

Also Refer: Diffusion

Facilitated Diffusion

Facilitated diffusion is the passive transportation of ions or molecules across the cell membrane through specific transmembrane integral proteins. The molecules, which are large and insoluble require a carrier substance for their transportation through the plasma membrane. This process does not require any cellular or external energy.

Glucose transporter, ion channels and aquaporins are some examples of facilitated diffusion. The cell membrane is permeable only to a few molecules that are smaller in size and non-polar. Therefore, facilitated diffusion with the help of transmembrane proteins is important.

Also Read: Facilitated Diffusion


Filtration is the process of separating solids from liquids and gases. The selective absorption of nutrients in the body is an example of filtration. This process does not require any energy and takes place along the concentration gradient. The kidneys are an example of a biological filter. The blood is filtered by the glomerulus and the necessary molecules are reabsorbed.

In the process of filtration, the cell membrane permits only those substances which are soluble and could easily pass through its pores.



Passive transport represented by the process of osmosis

In the process of osmosis, water and other molecules pass through a selectively permeable membrane in order to balance the concentration of other substances.

Osmosis is affected by the concentration gradient and temperature. The greater the concentration gradient, the faster the rate of osmosis. Also, the rate of osmosis increases with the increase in temperature.

There is a theory of conflict about the process of osmosis. Few biologists suggest that osmosis is an active transport and not passive transport.

Also Read: Osmosis

Examples Of Passive Transport

Following are some examples of passive transport:

  1. Ethanol enters our bodies and hits the bloodstream. This happens because the ethanol molecules undergo simple diffusion and pass through the cell membrane without any external energy.
  2. Reabsorption of nutrients by the intestines by separating them from the solid waste and transporting the nutrients through the intestinal membrane into the bloodstream.
  3. When a raisin is soaked in water the water moves inside the raisin by the process of osmosis and it swells.

Also Read: Difference Between Active And Passive Transport

For more information on passive transport, its types and examples, keep visiting BYJU’S website or download BYJU’S app for further reference.

Further Reading:

Transport across cell membrane

An Overview of Water Potential

Frequently Asked Questions


What is passive diffusion?

The simplest plasma membrane transport mechanism is called passive diffusion. It is the movement of ions and other molecules within the cells along the concentration gradient, without any external energy.

What are the three types of membrane transport?

Transportation through plasma membrane occurs by simple diffusion, osmosis and facilitated diffusion. These are passive transport mechanisms.

What is facilitated diffusion?

In facilitated diffusion, the transport through plasma membrane occurs with the help of specific transmembrane integral proteins. Large and insoluble molecules require a carrier substance for their transportation through the plasma membrane.
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