Chemical Equilibrium

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Reversible reactions and dynamic equilibrium

Ammonia (NH3) is an important industrial chemical that is used in the manufacture of fertilisers. It is manufactured by reacting hydrogen with nitrogen. The reaction is said to be reversible and the conversion of reactants to products is never complete. N2 + 3H2 2NH3

A reversible reaction is a reaction which can take place in either direction

When the concentrations of the reactants and product have become constant, a state of chemical equilibrium is said to have been reached. This is a dynamic equilibrium; even though no reactions appear to be occurring, however two reactions continue to take place.

Chemical equilibrium is said to be dynamic because, at equilibrium, there are reactions continually occurring. The rate of the forward reaction equals the rate of the reverse reaction.

Equilibrium Constants

At equilibrium as much hydrogen iodide is being decomposed as is formed and so the concentrations of all three substances remains constant.

Kc is the equilibrium constant in terms of molar concentration. This is known as the Equilibrium Law.

The equilibrium constant shows the position of equilibrium. A high Kc value indicates that at equilibrium a high concentration of products exists in comparison to a low concentration of reactants. However a low Kc value indicates a low concentration of products compared to a high concentration of reactants.

Kc < 1 … Then the backward reaction is favoured
Kc > 1 … Then the forward reaction is favoured

The value of the equilibrium concentration depends on temperature. If the forward reaction is exothermic the equilibrium decreases as the temperature rises (negative delta H). If it is endothermic it increases (positive delta H).

V.N.B Points about Equilibrium Constants

•The value of Kc only applies at equilibrium.
•Kc is constant only if the temperature remains constant
•The value of Kc is not affected by changes in concentration of reactants or products •The units of Kc depend on the relative numbers of moles on each side of the equation for the reaction. In a reaction in which there are equal numbers of moles on each side Kc has no units. Otherwise it is mol/l-1

Calculations of Equilibrium Concentrations

If the direction of the equation is reversed, then the Kc value must be inverted. If the equation is halved, then the square root of the Kc value must be found.

Le Chatelier's Principal

Le Chatelier's Principal- When a system at equilibrium is subjected to a stress, the equilibrium shifts in such a way as to minimise the effects of the stress.

H2 + I2 2HI

Changes in concentration of ones species-

•If the concentration of H2 is increased the equilibrium shifts in such a way as to minimise this change by using up the hydrogen. Forming more hydrogen iodide. The reaction therefore tends to go preferentially from left to right •If the concentration of I2 is increased the same occurs, excess iodine is used up •If the concentration of HI is increased the change is minimised by the breaking down of HI, forming more hydrogen and iodine. The reaction continues to go preferentially from right to left until the Kc value is reached. •A decrease in the concentration of HI, hydrogen and iodine react forming more HI. •A decrease in the concentration of H2, the equilibrium is shifted to the left (favouring the right to left reaction). Hydrogen iodide decomposes, forming more hydrogen and iodine. •A decrease in the concentration of I2, the equilibrium is shifted to the left (favouring the right to left reaction). Hydrogen iodide decomposes, forming more iodine and hydrogen.

Changes in temperature
The forward reaction is exothermic. If the temperature is raised the extra heat is absorbed by allowing the endothermic reverse reaction, forming hydrogen and iodine to take preference. This changes the Kc value. (In this case it decreases it) Lowering the temperature...
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