The Gibbs energy (also referred to as G) is also the thermodynamic potential that is minimized when a system reaches chemical equilibrium at constant pressure and temperature. Its derivative with respect to the reaction coordinate of the system vanishes at the equilibrium point. As such, a reduction in G is a necessary condition for the spontaneity of processes at constant pressure and temperature.
The Gibbs free energy, originally called available energy, was developed in the 1870s by the American scientist Josiah Willard Gibbs. In 1873, Gibbs described this "available energy" as
the greatest amount of mechanical work which can be obtained from a given quantity of a certain substance in a given initial state, without increasing its total volume or allowing heat to pass to or from external bodies, except such as at the close of the processes are left in their initial condition.
The initial state of the body, according to Gibbs, is supposed to be such that "the body can be made to pass from it to states of dissipated energy by reversible processes". In his 1876 magnum opus On the Equilibrium of Heterogeneous Substances, a graphical analysis of multi-phase chemical systems, he engaged his thoughts on chemical free energy in full.
According to the second law of thermodynamics, for systems reacting at STP (or any other fixed temperature and pressure), there is a general natural tendency to achieve a minimum of the Gibbs free energy.