Free Essay: Factors Affecting Reaction Rates
Reaction rate denotes how fast or slow reactants are converted into products and vice versa in a chemical reaction. By looking at a chemical equation, it is impossible to deduce the quantitative relationship between reactants and products. You can only establish this by studying chemical kinetics of the reaction. Chemical kinetics depends on temperature, surface area of reactants, concentration of reactants, and presence of catalysts among others. In this essay, we shall discuss how these factors affect rates of chemical reactions.
Concentration: a reaction can only take place, when particles of reactants collide. If these molecules or ions do not come in contact, no reaction will occur. Importantly, the more these particles collide, the higher the rate of reaction. This implies that you need a higher concentration of the reactants to increase their chances of colliding and leading to a reaction. At a given time, the rate of a chemical reaction increases with increasing concentration of reactants. In cases where a reaction of slow adjust the concentration of reactants appropriately to speed up the rate of reaction.
Temperature: Temperature is a major element that affects the rate of chemical reactions. The higher the temperature, the higher the kinetic energy of particles. When the temperature rises, the kinetic energy increases, leading to higher rate at which particles move and collide. This increases the overall reaction rate per unit time. Generally, most reaction rates increase with increasing temperature. On the other hand, the reaction rate will decrease with a decrease in temperature. A good example is refrigeration, which inhibits growth of bacteria by lowering reaction rates of processes that allow bacteria to multiply.
State and Surface area: Reactants that are of the same phase lead to a higher reaction rate. This is because there is higher possibility of particles moving and colliding especially when the reactants are in the same state. Reaction rate will also be slow in case the reactants are immiscible liquids like water and paraffin. When reactants form a homogeneous solution, then the rate of reaction may depend on other factors like the concentration of the liquids and the temperature at which the reaction is taking place.
Solvent effect: the nature of the solvent also affects the rate of reaction. This is because there are some solvents, which inhibit reactions with certain chemicals. This applies mainly in exchange reactions. The viscosity of solvents also affects the rate at which reactants get depleted and products form in a chemical reaction. Highly viscous solvents lead to slow reactions because of the slow movement of particles per unit time. Therefore, the higher the viscosity of a solvent, the lower the rate of reaction. The surface area of particles also affects the rate of reaction. When particles have a large surface area to volume ratio, the rate of collision is high. This is why reactants in powder form will react faster than those in large solid particles. Importantly, chemical reaction rates depend on catalysts. There are reactions that cannot kick start without these substances. On the other hand, there are reactions that need catalysts to continue to completion or increase the rate of reaction.
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