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Explore Chemistry: Introduction to Chemical Kinetics

Chemical reactions take place around us all the time, whether it’s respiration - cellular and non-cellular - or photosynthesis in plant leaves. To better understand these reactions and their optimal conditions, scientists use a branch of chemistry called kinetics. Kinetics is a critical component of chemistry. It allows us to understand biological processes, particularly enzyme-catalyzed reactions, that contribute to environmental and atmospheric chemistry. However, reaction kinetics is a topic that many scholars struggle with.

LabXchange curator and Bachelor of Technology graduate in chemical engineering, Merveille Tolela compiled a list of four free resources on Labxchange to help master the basics of kinetics.

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Reaction Rate (and Chemical Equilibrium)

The reaction rate is the speed at which a chemical reaction proceeds. The learning pathway, Rates of Reactions & Equilibrium, features resources that explain reaction rate, as well the importance of chemical equilibrium in a system. You are introduced to the concept of kinetics, reaction rates and chemical equilibrium. The pathway also offers guidance on calculating rate constants in the classroom.  

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Factors that Affect Reaction Rates

A balanced chemical equation describes the quantitative relationship between reactants and products in a reaction. However, the speed or rate at which the reaction proceeds is determined by the chemical kinetics. These depend on four main drivers. Take a deeper dive into factors that affect reaction rates through the lens of collision theory with the video, Factors Affecting Rate of Reaction from XL Education.

Rate laws

Rate laws describe the relationship between the rate of a chemical reaction and the concentration of its reactants. The order of reaction describes how much a change in the amount of each substance affects the overall rate of the reaction. Furthermore, the overall order of a reaction is the sum of the orders for each substance present in the reaction. Read more about this key concept and practice calculating rate law with the section, Rate Law from the OpenStax digital textbook.

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Integrated Rate Laws

While rate laws relate to the rate and concentrations of reactants, we can also determine the second form of each rate law. These relate reactant concentrations to time, and are referred to as integrated rate laws. For example, they can be used in radiocarbon dating to approximate the age of organic materials. To help you understand this concept and how to calculate integrated rate laws, check out this OpenStax text, Integrated Rate Laws.

LabXchange invites learners of all ages to explore chemistry further! You’ll find thousands of free learning resources in the library.

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