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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the effects of chemical nature, physical state, temperature, concentration, and catalysis on reaction rates

The rates at which reactants are consumed and products are formed during chemical reactions vary greatly. We can identify five factors that affect the rates of chemical reactions: the chemical nature of the reacting substances, the state of subdivision (one large lump versus many small particles) of the reactants, the temperature of the reactants, the concentration of the reactants, and the presence of a catalyst.

The chemical nature of the reacting substances

The rate of a reaction depends on the nature of the participating substances. Reactions that appear similar may have different rates under the same conditions, depending on the identity of the reactants. For example, when small pieces of the metals iron and sodium are exposed to air, the sodium reacts completely with air overnight, whereas the iron is barely affected. The active metals calcium and sodium both react with water to form hydrogen gas and a base. Yet calcium reacts at a moderate rate, whereas sodium reacts so rapidly that the reaction is almost explosive.

The state of subdivision of the reactants

Except for substances in the gaseous state or in solution, reactions occur at the boundary, or interface, between two phases. Hence, the rate of a reaction between two phases depends to a great extent on the surface contact between them. A finely divided solid has more surface area available for reaction than does one large piece of the same substance. Thus a liquid will react more rapidly with a finely divided solid than with a large piece of the same solid. For example, large pieces of iron react slowly with acids; finely divided iron reacts much more rapidly ( [link] ). Large pieces of wood smolder, smaller pieces burn rapidly, and saw dust burns explosively.

This figure shows two photos labeled (a) and (b). Photo (a) shows the bottom of a test tube. The test tube is filled with a dark gas, and there is a dark substance and bubbles in the bottom. Photo (b) shows a rod and bubbles in a test tube similar to photo (a), but the gas in the test tube is not as dark.
(a) Iron powder reacts rapidly with dilute hydrochloric acid and produces bubbles of hydrogen gas because the powder has a large total surface area: 2Fe( s ) + 6HCl( aq ) 2FeCl3( aq ) + 3H2( g ). (b) An iron nail reacts more slowly.

Temperature of the reactants

Chemical reactions typically occur faster at higher temperatures. Food can spoil quickly when left on the kitchen counter. However, the lower temperature inside of a refrigerator slows that process so that the same food remains fresh for days. We use a burner or a hot plate in the laboratory to increase the speed of reactions that proceed slowly at ordinary temperatures. In many cases, an increase in temperature of only 10 °C will approximately double the rate of a reaction in a homogeneous system.

Concentrations of the reactants

The rates of many reactions depend on the concentrations of the reactants. Rates usually increase when the concentration of one or more of the reactants increases. For example, calcium carbonate (CaCO 3 ) deteriorates as a result of its reaction with the pollutant sulfur dioxide. The rate of this reaction depends on the amount of sulfur dioxide in the air ( [link] ). An acidic oxide, sulfur dioxide combines with water vapor in the air to produce sulfurous acid in the following reaction:

Questions & Answers

hydrocarbons can be classified as..1.Aliphatic compounds 2.cyclic compounds.under aliphatic compounds there are two types saturated hydrocarbons(alkanes) and unsaturated hydrocarbons(alkenes and alkynes).
Niroshan Reply
hello i have big problems in understanding organic chemistry
emmanuel Reply
what are the main types of hydrocarbon
how many elements are in the periodic table
emmanuel Reply
please what are the main types of hydrocarbons
why Rutherford uses the gold foil instead of other metals?
Lareb Reply
Rutherford chose gold was because its extremely malleable. One can stretch gold foil until it is only a few atoms thick in places, which is not possible with aluminum. If the foil were too thick, there would be no transmission of particles at all; the whole point was to demonstrate that most alpha
wjat does Rutherford mean?
Ernest Rutherford was the scientist that preformed the experiment.
although other metals are also present which are more melleable!?so
what is a balanced equation 4 trioxonitrate (V)acid and sodium hydroxide?
Marcel Reply
proved ur Worth: If A is a of trioxonitrate(V)acid,HNO3' of unknown concentration .B is a standard solution of sodium hydroxide containing 4.00g per dm cube of solution.25cm cube portions solution B required an average of 24.00cm cube of solution A for neutralization,using 2 drops of methyl orange.
calculate the concentration of solution B in moles per dm cube
calculate the concentration of solution A and B in moles per DM cube
finally calculate the concentration in g/dm cube of HNO3 in solution A (H=1,N=14,O=16,Na=23)
calculate the standard enthalpy of formation for propane(C3H8) from the following data; 1), C3H8+5O2->3CO2+4H2O; -222.0kJ/mol 2), C+O2->CO2;-395.5kJ/mol 3),H2+O->H2O; 285.8kJ/mol
let eventually of formation of propane = X X + (-222)=3×(-395.5)+4×(-286) rearrange to find X
wat is electrolysis?
Mgbachi Reply
it is the chemical decomposition of a substance when electric current is passed through it either in molten form or aqueous solution
list the side effect of chemical industries
Chelsea Reply
how do you ionise an atom
Rabeka Reply
many ways ,but one of them is when the atom becomes heated to a certain temperature the surface electron becomes too energetic and leaves the atom because the attraction between the nucleus and the electron becomes overpowered by the energetic eletron
also hitting of two atoms can cause transfer of surface electrons
and when this transfers occur the atom becomes ionised
who is doing Cape chemistry tomorrow?
caramel Reply
What is hybridization
edmondnti Reply
the mix between different breeds of species in one
it is the blending of orbitals.
the mixing of orbital
are covalent bonds influenced by factors such as temperature and pressure?
patrick Reply
what is catalyst used for mirror test
Sanjay Reply
when an atom looses electron, what does it become?
Abdullahi Reply
it's oxidized and called an ion
Now, I get it
can you give an example please, if you don't mind
a positive ion,become positively charged/a cation.
sodium plus one is simple cation is exmpl
Taking Sodium as example..... it carries a positive charge which means it is positively charged.....when it gains an electron, it is reduced cuz an electron is negatively charged.....also when an atom looses an electron, it becomes positively charged and when it gains, it becomes negatively charged.
typically, ionization is the process where an atom looses or gains electron(s) to form ion(s) either a positively or negatively
what is copper
Bryan Reply
just an element
Why is water a single covalent bond?
Mohamed Reply
Practice Key Terms 1

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Source:  OpenStax, Chemistry. OpenStax CNX. May 20, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11760/1.9
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