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4: Reaction Mechanisms

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    Chemical reactions are studied in terms of reaction rate, reaction orders with respect to reactants, differential and integrated rate laws of chemical reactions, and activaton energy. This type of studies is usually called chemical kinetics.

    • 4.1: Activation Energy - Ea
    • 4.2: Chain Reactions
      Chain reactions usually consist of many repeating elementary steps, each of which has a chain carrier. Once started, chain reactions continue until the reactants are exhausted. Fire and explosions are some of the phenomena associated with chain reactions.
    • 4.3: Chain Reactions I
    • 4.4: Catalysts and Energy of Activation
    • 4.5: Elementary Steps
      An elementary process is also called an elementary step or elementary reaction. It expresses how molecules or ions actually react with each other. The equation in an elementary step represents the reaction at the molecular level, not the overall reaction. Based on numbers of molecules involved in the elementary step, there are three kinds of elementary steps: unimolecular step (or process), bimolecular process, and trimolecular process.
    • 4.6: Gas Kinetics
    • 4.7: Limits of Thermodynamics
    • 4.8: Rates and Concentrations
      In the introduction to chemical kinetics, we have already defined chemical reaction rates. Rates of chemical reactions depend on the nature of the reactants, the temperature, the presence of a catalyst, and concentration. This page discusses how the concentration affects the chemical reaction rates. Concentration effect is important because chemical reactions are usually carried out in solutions.
    • 4.9: Rates and Mechanisms
      A reaction mechanism is a collection of elementary processes or steps (also called elementary steps) that explains how the overall reaction proceeds. A mechanism is a proposal from which you can work out a rate law that agrees with the observed rate laws. The fact that a mechanism explains the experimental results is not a proof that the mechanism is correct.
    • 4.10: Rate Laws - Differential
      This page deals specifically with first- and second-order reaction kinetics, but you should know that other orders such as zeroth-order and 3rd order may also be involved in chemical kinetics.
    • 4.11: Rate Laws - Integrated
    • 4.12: Steady-State Approximation
      The steady-state approximation is a method used to derive a rate law. The method is based on the assumption that one intermediate in the reaction mechanism is consumed as quickly as it is generated. Its concentration remains the same in a duration of the reaction.

    4: Reaction Mechanisms is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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