Skip to main content
Chemistry LibreTexts

3.1.1: Bimolecular Reactions

  • Page ID
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \) \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)\(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \(\newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\) \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\) \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)\(\newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    An elementary bimolecular reaction originates from a collision between two reactants. Whether or not a collision results in a chemical reaction is determined by the energy of the reactants and their orientation. The total energy of the two reactants must be in excess of the activation energy, Ea, and the reactants must be in a favorable orientation for the chemical reaction to occur. While there are many different orientations possible for the collisions, usually not all of them will result in a chemical reaction. For most reactions, if the orientation is not correct, the reactants will bounce off of each other without a chemical reaction.

    Contributors and Attributions

    • Kirsten Deitrick (I. H. Kempner High School, Sugar Land, Texas),
    • Mingying Xue (Department of Computer Science, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas)
    • William L. Hase (Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas)

    3.1.1: Bimolecular Reactions is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by William L. Hase.

    • Was this article helpful?