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Chemistry LibreTexts

10: Principles of Chemical Equilibrium

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  • As we have studied chemical reactions in this course, we have used a “reaction arrow” to indicate the process of reactants being converted into products. The implication here is that the reaction is “irreversible”, proceeding in the direction of the arrow. Many simple reactions that we encounter in chemistry, however, are not irreversible, but proceed in both directions with products readily be converted back into reactants. When a set of reactions, such as this, proceed so that the rate of conversion in one direction equals the rate of conversion in the other, we say the reactions are in equilibrium. An equilibrium system is shown by using a set of double arrows, proceeding in opposite directions. An understanding of equilibrium is essential to an appreciation of the concepts behind acid-base behavior, solubility phenomena, etc.