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Chemistry LibreTexts

18.8: Rate Law and Specific Rate Constant

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    Rate Law and Specific Rate Constant

    Consider a simple chemical reaction in which reactant \(\ce{A}\) is converted into product \(\ce{B}\) according to the equation below.

    \[\ce{A} \rightarrow \ce{B}\]

    The rate of reaction is given by the change in concentration of \(\ce{A}\) as a function of time. The rate of disappearance of \(\ce{A}\) is also proportional to the concentration of \(\ce{A}\).

    \[-\frac{\Delta \left[ \ce{A} \right]}{\Delta t} \propto \left[ \ce{A} \right]\]

    Since the rate of a reaction generally depends upon collision frequency, it stands to reason that as the concentration of \(\ce{A}\) increases, the rate of reaction increases. Likewise, as the concentration of \(\ce{A}\) decreases, the rate of reaction decreases. The expression for the rate of the reaction can be shown as follows:

    \[\text{rate} = -\frac{\Delta \left[ \ce{A} \right]}{\Delta t} \: \: \: \text{or} \: \: \: \text{rate} = k \left[ \ce{A} \right]\]

    The proportionality between the rate and \(\left[ \ce{A} \right]\) becomes and equal sign by the insertion of a constant \(\left( k \right)\). A rate law is an expression showing the relationship of the reaction rate to the concentrations of each reactant. The specific rate constant \(\left( k \right)\) is the proportionality constant relating the rate of the reaction to the concentrations of reactants. The rate law and the specific rate constant for any chemical reaction must be determined experimentally. The value of the rate constant is temperature dependent. A large value of the rate constant means that the reaction is relatively fast, while a small value of the rate constant means that the reaction is relatively slow.


    • The rate law and specific rate constant are defined.


    • CK-12 Foundation by Sharon Bewick, Richard Parsons, Therese Forsythe, Shonna Robinson, and Jean Dupon.