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Factors Affecting Equilibrium

Have you heard of the word equilibrium? What about dynamic equilibrium? Sometimes chemical reactions are not unidirectional; they are reversible. The reactants react to create the products, but then the products can also react to recreate the original reactants. This means there is both a forward reaction and a reverse one. In this article, we will learn how reversible reactions can reach an equilibrium state and how different factors affect this equilibrium in the system.

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# Factors Affecting Equilibrium

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Nie wieder prokastinieren mit unseren Lernerinnerungen. Have you heard of the word equilibrium? What about dynamic equilibrium? Sometimes chemical reactions are not unidirectional; they are reversible. The reactants react to create the products, but then the products can also react to recreate the original reactants. This means there is both a forward reaction and a reverse one. In this article, we will learn how reversible reactions can reach an equilibrium state and how different factors affect this equilibrium in the system.

## The definition of dynamic equilibrium

When the forward and reverse reaction rates are the same, this system is said to be at dynamic equilibrium. It is called dynamic because the forward and reverse reactions are happening, but since their rates are the same, they cancel each other's effects, so there doesn't appear to be any activity.

Dynamic equilibrium occurs when the forward reaction rate equals the reverse reaction rate, and the amounts of reactants and products stay constant.

It is essential to understand that the number of reactants and products are not necessarily identical in an equilibrium. In an equilibrium state, the ratio of products to reactants can be any number as long as their concentration or amount is not changing.

The equilibrium state can occur in both physical and chemical processes. A physical equilibrium develops between different phases or physical properties and does not involve chemical changes in the system.

And as you can already guess, a chemical equilibrium develops in chemical processes.

The rate of the forward reaction is equal to the rate of the backward reaction in chemical equilibrium. As a result, the reactant and product concentrations do not vary throughout time at the equilibrium state as long as other factors are kept constant.

The system's temperature, pressure, and concentration are all factors that influence equilibrium. When one of these components changes, the system's balance is disrupted, and the system readjusts until it returns to equilibrium. Depending on the nature of the reaction, changes in the system's conditions may favour the forward or the reverse reactions. In that case, the equilibrium position would shift in line with the favoured reaction.

Before heading into how these factors impact the equilibrium state, we need to go over a fundamental principle, Le Chaterlier's.

## Effect of concentration on equilibrium

Following the Le Chatelier principle, when the concentration of reactants or products in an equilibrium reaction changes, the makeup of the equilibrium mixture changes to lessen the impact of the concentration change.

Take the reaction in the Haber process for example: N2(g) + 3H2(g) ⇌ 2NH3(g)

The concentration of chemicals on either side of the equilibrium can be changed. Suppose we add more reactants (N2 + H2) to the mixture. This will upset the equilibrium, causing the forward reaction to accelerate to consume some new reactants and convert them into products, restoring equilibrium. In this example, the equilibrium position is considered to have moved to the right.

On the other hand, when we add more products (NH3), the equilibrium shifts to the left, converting the extra ammonia to nitrogen and hydrogen and minimising the impact of the ammonia added.

You might wonder what would happen to the equilibrium if we remove only one of the reactants or products. The principle is still the same. The equilibrium shifts to create more of the substance that has been added to restore balance. If we add more nitrogen to the mixture, for example, the equilibrium will shift right to create use up the added nitrogen and produce more ammonia, opposing the change.

## Effect of temperature on equilibrium

The impact of temperature on an equilibrium depends on which reaction, forward or reverse, is exothermic and which one is endothermic.

Let's quickly refresh our memories on what exothermic and endothermic mean.

Exothermic chemical reactions are those that release energy, often in the form of heat.

In exothermic reactions, the collective energy released from breaking the chemical bonds in the reactants is greater than the energy needed for forming new chemical bonds in the products. As a result, the surplus in energy is released to the surroundings during the reaction. Due to the energy released, the temperature of the exothermic reaction mixture rises as the reaction takes place.

Endothermic chemical reactions, on the other hand, absorb energy during the reaction.

In endothermic reactions, the bonds in the products hold more energy than the energy released from breaking the bonds in the reactants. Hence, more energy needs to be absorbed by the reaction mixture to form the bonds in the products. In other words, the kinetic energy of the particles in the mix becomes converted to the chemical energy stored in the bonds of the products. Since temperature measures the average kinetic energy of the particles in a system, the temperature of the reaction mixture decreases in endothermic reactions.

The two forward and reverse reactions cannot both be exothermic or endothermic. This is because they are opposite reactions to one another. So, if the forward reaction is endothermic, for example, then the reverse reaction will be exothermic.

Le Chaterlier's principle is still standing when it comes to changes in temperature. The makeup of the equilibrium shifts to oppose any changes in the system's temperature.

The forward reaction is exothermic in the Haber process, making the reverse endothermic.

N2(g) + 3H2(g) ⇌ 2NH3(g) qforward < 0, ΔHforward < 0

When heat is released to the reaction mixture, the reaction is exothermic, and q for the reaction has a negative value. When the reaction mixture absorbs heat, then the reaction is endothermic, and the q for the reaction has a positive value.

At constant pressure and temperature, q is the same as the enthalpy change (ΔH).

'q' denotes the heat absorbed or released during a reaction.

If heat is absorbed, q is positive, and if heat is released to the system and the environment, q is negative.

If the temperature of the equilibrium mixture is increased, the equilibrium will shift towards the endothermic side to oppose and decrease the mixture's temperature. So in the example above, when the mixture's temperature is raised, the equilibrium shifts to the left towards the reactants (N2 + H2) until it reaches a new equilibrium state.

You can probably guess what would happen when the mixture's temperature is decreased. The equilibrium would shift towards the exothermic reaction, in this case towards the product (NH3), since the energy released from the forward exothermic reaction would raise the temperature to oppose the change.

## Effect of pressure or volume on equilibrium

Following the Le Chatelier principle, when the concentration of reactants or products in an equilibrium reaction changes, the makeup of the equilibrium mixture changes to lessen the impact of the concentration change. So for example, if more reactants are added to the mixture, the equilibrium shifts towards the products to use up some of the added reactants and reach a new equilibrium state.

The impact of temperature on the equilibrium depends on the exothermic or endothermic nature of the forward and reverse reactions. Raising the temperature of the system would favour the endothermic reaction, as endothermic reactions absorb energy and lower the system's temperature. Meanwhile, decreasing the temperature favours the exothermic reaction since exothermic reactions release energy and heat up the system.

The pressure of a system is proportional to the number of gas particles in it. The more gas particles in the system, the higher the pressure. Following a change in the pressure of the equilibrium mixture, the equilibrium position will shift towards the side with fewer gaseous particles to lower the pressure and oppose the change.

Introducing a catalyst to the reaction mixture has no impact on the equilibrium position.

The system's temperature, pressure, and concentration are all factors that influence equilibrium.

## Factors Affecting Equilibrium Quiz - Teste dein Wissen

Question

What happens to the equilibrium position if a catalyst is added to the mixture?

Equilibrium position does not change

Show question

Question

In the Haber process:

N2(g) + 3H2(g) ⇌ 2NH3(g)   qforward 0, ΔHforward < 0

What would happen if the temperature of the system is increased and the pressure is decreased?

Equilibrium position shifts left, absorbing energy and producing more gaseous particles

Show question

Question

In the Haber process: N2(g) + 3H2(g) ⇌ 2NH3(g)

What happens to the equilibrium position if some hydrogen is removed from the mixture?

Equilibrium position shifts left, replenishing the reactants.

Show question

Question

Endothermic reactions ______ energy during the reaction.

Absorb

Show question

Question

The q and ΔH of a reaction are the same if the pressure and temperature of the system are kept constant.

True

Show question

Question

In the Haber process:

N2(g) + 3H2(g) ⇌ 2NH3(g)   qforward 0, ΔHforward < 0

What would happen if the temperature of the system is decreased?

Equilibrium position shifts right, producing more ammonia and releasing energy

Show question

Question

According to Boyle's law, the pressure exerted by a gas is inversely proportional to its volume.

True

Show question

Question

At an equilibrium state, the amount of reactants equals the amount of the products.

False

Show question

Question

In an equilibrium, both the forward and reverse reactions can be exothermic.

False

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Question

What does the Le Chaterlier's principle state?

According to Le Chatelier's principle, if a change is made to an equilibrium, the equilibrium will act to resist the change

Show question

Question

Exothermic reactions ______ energy during the reaction.

Release

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Question

If the q of a reaction is positive, the reaction is _______ .

Endothermic

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Question

The pressure of a system is proportional to the number of gas particles in it. The more gas particles in the system, the higher the pressure.

True

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Question

All reactions are unidirectional.

False

Show question

Question

When the rates of the forward and reverse reaction are the same, this system is said to be at ____________.

Dynamic equilibrium

Show question

## Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

What happens to the equilibrium position if a catalyst is added to the mixture?

In the Haber process: N2(g) + 3H2(g) ⇌ 2NH3(g)   qforward < 0, ΔHforward < 0What would happen if the temperature of the system is increased and the pressure is decreased?

In the Haber process: N2(g) + 3H2(g) ⇌ 2NH3(g)What happens to the equilibrium position if some hydrogen is removed from the mixture?

Flashcards in Factors Affecting Equilibrium15

Start learning

What happens to the equilibrium position if a catalyst is added to the mixture?

Equilibrium position does not change

In the Haber process:

N2(g) + 3H2(g) ⇌ 2NH3(g)   qforward 0, ΔHforward < 0

What would happen if the temperature of the system is increased and the pressure is decreased?

Equilibrium position shifts left, absorbing energy and producing more gaseous particles

In the Haber process: N2(g) + 3H2(g) ⇌ 2NH3(g)

What happens to the equilibrium position if some hydrogen is removed from the mixture?

Equilibrium position shifts left, replenishing the reactants.

Endothermic reactions ______ energy during the reaction.

Absorb

The q and ΔH of a reaction are the same if the pressure and temperature of the system are kept constant.

True

In the Haber process:

N2(g) + 3H2(g) ⇌ 2NH3(g)   qforward 0, ΔHforward < 0

What would happen if the temperature of the system is decreased?

Equilibrium position shifts right, producing more ammonia and releasing energy

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