What is Chemical Kinetics and Why is it an Important Field of Study?

Chemical kinetics is the branch of chemistry that deals with the study of the rates of chemical reactions, which is the reason why this field of study is also called reaction kinetics. Chemical kinetics also involves the study of how certain experimental conditions (such as temperature, pressure and the presence of a reaction catalyst) affect the speed at which a chemical reaction takes place. This information can, in turn, be used to gain insight into the mechanism of a reaction and the transition states formed during the reaction. Some important concepts that fall under chemical kinetics include the Arrhenius equation, the Eyring equation and the rate law.

Factors that Affect the Rate of a Chemical Reaction

The Concentration of the Reactants

As per the collision theory of chemical reactions, an increase in the concentration of the reactants is generally accompanied by an increase in the total number of correctly oriented collisions between reactant molecules which, in turn, increases the speed of the chemical reaction. However, it is important to note that the effect of an increase in the concentration of reactants on a chemical reaction is dependent on the order of the reaction.

The Absolute Temperature of the Reaction Environment

The temperature of the reaction environment is directly proportional to the thermal energy held by the reactant molecules. Since the thermal energy of the reactant particles is directly proportional to the collision frequency, higher temperatures are usually accompanied by a greater number of collisions and faster reaction rates.

The Presence of a Catalyst

Reaction catalysts tend to increase the rate of chemical reactions without participating in them. They accomplish this by providing a different reaction pathway with a lower activation energy requirement (the activation energy of a chemical reaction is the minimum amount of energy that must be supplied to the reactants in order to facilitate the reaction).

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Post Author: Michael Jacob