# 5: Equilibrium: How Far Reactions Go


• 5.1: Defining Equilibrium
A reaction is at equilibrium when the amounts of reactants or products no longer change. Chemical equilibrium is a dynamic process, meaning the rate of formation of products by the forward reaction is equal to the rate at which the products re-form reactants by the reverse reaction.
• 5.2: The Equilibrium Constant
The law of mass action describes a system at equilibrium in terms of the concentrations of the products and the reactants. For a system involving one or more gases, either the molar concentrations of the gases or their partial pressures can be used. The equilibrium constant can be defined in terms of forward and reverse rate constants via the law of mass action.
• 5.3: Heterogeneous Equilibria
An equilibrated system that contains products and reactants in a single phase is a homogeneous equilibrium; a system whose reactants, products, or both are in more than one phase is a heterogeneous equilibrium.
• 5.4: Predicting Reaction Direction
The reaction Quotient ($$Q$$ or $$Q_p$$) has the same form as the equilibrium constant expression, but it is derived from concentrations obtained at any time. When a reaction system is at equilibrium, $$Q = K$$. Graphs derived by plotting a few equilibrium concentrations for a system at a given temperature and pressure can be used to predict the direction in which a reaction will proceed. Points that do not lie on the line or curve are nonequilibrium states.
• 5.5: Solving Equilibrium Problems
Various methods can be used to solve the two fundamental types of equilibrium problems: (1) those in which we calculate the concentrations of reactants and products at equilibrium and (2) those in which we use the equilibrium constant and the initial concentrations of reactants to determine the composition of the equilibrium mixture. When an equilibrium constant is calculated from equilibrium concentrations, concentrations or partial pressures are use into the equilibrium constant expression.
• 5.6: Le Chatelier's Principle
Systems at equilibrium can be disturbed by changes to temperature, concentration, and, in some cases, volume and pressure; volume and pressure changes will disturb equilibrium if the number of moles of gas is different on the reactant and product sides of the reaction. The system's response to these disturbances is described by Le Châtelier's principle: The system will respond in a way that counteracts the disturbance. Adding a catalyst affects the reaction rates but does not alter equilibrium.

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